Monday, July 22, 2024

Tourism      Monuments      Colonial Buildings      Delhi     Delhi    

Rashtrapati Bhavan

Place : Presidential Estate, New Delhi
Significance : Official residence of the President of India
Best Season : February-March
Highlight : Mughal Gardens
Write Comments | Read Comments   [ 1 ] | Tour Packages

Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, is located at the west end of the 2 1/2km long Rajpath (King's path), a tree-lined avenue flanked by lawns with orderly flowerbeds and clipped hedges, with the India gate at the opposite end. Designed by Sir Edwin L. Lutyens and completed in 1929, this palatial building on the Raisina hill was formerly the Viceregal Lodge (Viceroy's House), during the British rule. The city of New Delhi officially inaugurated in 1931, was conceived and constructed by the British when they moved their capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Among the Government buildings of the city, the Viceroys house was the centre piece with imperial proportions.

Built in two shades of sandstone, it covers an area of 18,580 sq meters (200,000 square feet), about 1km around the foundation, bigger than the Louis XIV's place at Versailles.The total cost for the construction was Rs.1.4 million and over 3,500 men worked on 3.5 million cubic feet of marble and 700 million bricks for nearly two decades (17 years) for its construction.

After India became independent the Viceroy's house was re-named Government House and when the country became a republic in 1952 it was re-christened as Rashtrapati Bhavan (President Quarters). A combination of Mughal and classical European architectural styles, it has a huge copper dome surmounting a long colonnade and 340 decorated rooms. There are 31 steps at the entrance to the portico with 20 columns. Across the portico, the Durbar hall (Audience hall), with golden pillars and coloured marble from all parts of India, is 23m in diameter and has an exquisitely carved 2300 year old sculpture of the Ashokan bull at the entrance. It is the venue for all official functions of the President including the National Award ceremonies. There is a 4th century statue of Gautam Buddha behind the Presidents chair. The hall served as a museum for several years until the present venue of the National Museum was constructed.

Then there is the rectangular Ashoka hall formerly the State Ball Room, now used for formal gatherings such as accepting credentials from foreign diplomats, swearing in ceremonies of ministers etc. The hall has a painted ceiling and several chandeliers with a beautiful view of the Mughal gardens through its windows. The guest room has two spacious suites for the visiting dignitaries with teak furniture and beautifully woven Indian carpets. State dining room or the Banquet hall with a seating capacity of 104 people has teak paneled walls with full size portraits of the Presidents of India. The Council room which hosts the formal conferences of the President has murals of sea routes to India done by Indian artists but conceived by the famous art historian Percy Brown. The Art Gallery and the Marble Hall holds various works of art collected by the Viceroys and the Presidents of India including paintings by famous artists, portraits and statues of British monarchs etc.

Rashtrapati Bhavan is a magnificent classical structure showing off British imperialism with massive columns, verandahs, balconies incorporated with typical Indian motifs such as Buddhist railings, chhatris (umbrella like structures adorning roof tops), jalis (perforated stone screens with intricate designs) and chhajjas (stone slabs fixed below the roof ) in between. Besides the extensive use of elephant motifs in the huge cast iron gate, pillars and basement, Indian temple bells are also integrated in its pillars. The most obvious Indian feature is the massive dome. Overall  the building has been described as a masterpiece of symmetry, discipline, silhouette and harmony.

Mughal Gardens To the west of Rashtrapathi Bhavan there is the elegant Mughal Gardens also designed by Lutynes. The garden which occupies an area of 13 acres, is divided into three sections (rectangular, long and circular gardens) and is a blend of the formal Mughal style with the design of a British Garden. The garden with Mughal style canals, fountains and terraces at different levels with flowering shrubs and Western style lawns, hedges and flower beds is a visual treat especially during the blossoming season. The garden grows a variety of trees and flowers like roses, marigold, bougainvillea, sweet william, viscaria etc among many others. To the east lies the Great Court, a vast court with a massive Jaipur Column of red sandstone topped with a bronze lotus and six pointed glass star of India, in the centre. Along with the above, the Presidential estate in all is spread over an area of 354 acres with nine tennis courts, a polo ground, a 14-hole golf course, a cricket field and a grove of trees of different species. 

Nearby, on either sides of the Raisina hill are the two Secretariat blocks designed by Herbert Baker. The Parliament House or the Sansad Bhavan lies to the north east of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan. The spacious plaza at the foot of the Rashtrapati Bhawan is known as Vijay Chowk.

Visitors require special permission from Government of India Tourist Office to enter Rastrapathi Bhavan.The Mughal garden is open to the public only in the month of February when the flowers are gloriously in bloom The timings are from 9.30 A.M. to 2.30 P.M. on all days except Mondays. Every Saturday at 10.30 am, mounted and un-mounted troops parade in full uniform, at the front of the gates of the Secretariat and the Rashtrapathi Bhavan which is worth attending.