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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.
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.