History of Rashtrapati Bhavan

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History of Rashtrapati Bhavan

Rashtrapati Bhavan is the grand palace of great majesty and refinement occupies a prominent position. It is built on a high basement constructed on an outcrop of rock, about 365 meters behind the Central Secretariat buildings.

Originally known as Viceroy’s House, it is now the official residence of India’s President. Designed by Lutyens, Rashtrapati Bhawan was completed and, occupied in 1929. Money was spend lavishly on its construction. Its cost was £ 8,77,136. Thus it is clear that a very large part of the money spent on the buildings of New Delhi was actually spent on the construction of this splendid palace. It is indeed a magnificent palace, for it has many noble courts, stairways and apartments, a great durbar hall and a magnificent dome. It is one of the largest palaces in world. It is 192 meters wide and 161.5 meters deep from east to west. It measured 923.5 meters round the whole of its basement plinth. It has a total area of 19549 sq. meters. It is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent palaces of the world. The court is about 183 meters in breadth and 396 meters in length. The Jaipur column stands in the forecourt. From here roads lead off to north and south, forming alternative lines of approach to Rashtrapati Bhavan. The main entrance is form the east front. A flight of steps leads to the portico of twelve pillars, each 9.14 meters high. A further flight of steps leads from the portico to the vestibule lined with marble (12.19 meters high, half as wide and nearly twice as long). The four chhatris on the bastions ending the portico, the sparkling fountains behind them, the pressed stone screens at their sides and the long flight of steps leading from the portico form a magnificent approach to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Straight ahead is the Durbar Hall, a magnificent domed structure. The walls of white marble are 12.8 meters high; the dome is 21.94 meters is diameter, and 23.62 meters high. The artistic design of the floor is very impressive – there are great panels of Italian rosso porfrico framed in white, with a black border, which lend added charm to the hall. The polished floor reflects, as in a mirror, the white marble walls and the golden column. Of the State rooms, the most impressive are the dining room and the library. The hall for banquets is very spacious – 31.6 meters long, 10.3 meters wide and 9.1 meters high. The marble floor is patterned into grey and white crystalline triangles and cubes. At night it gleams in the soft light of superb chandeliers. The floor of the library is even more marvelous than that of the dining room, for it consists of grey, white and yellow marbles inlaid in patterns of inter-lacing circles.  The open staircase court, facing north-west, has a charm of its own. Of the four important stairways, the smallest is the most fascinating for it is cooled by water troughs lined with black marble. Projecting from this central block (comprising the Durbar Hall, State rooms and staircases) are four wings. On the western side of the palace is a raised garden, popularly known as the Mughal Garden, and behind that is a park containing the staff houses and quarters.

Till lately, Rashtrapati Bhavan was furnished in the best of western styles. Many alterations have now been carried out on its make-up to bring them into conformity with the tastes and standards of this country. Thus, shortly after Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the President of India, he expressed a desire that all linen and fabric of his study and personal apartments should be replaced by Khadi material. The guest rooms have been renovated so that they represent the culture and pageant of different states of the Indian Union. Wall and floor furnishings and decorations, curtains, carpets tapestry, furniture and mantelpieces bear the distinctive stamp of the features that distinguish each individual state. Thus Rashtrapati Bhavan has become a living symbol of India’s culture and pageant.

Some rooms of Rashtrapati Bhavan are reserved for the President and his family for residential purposes; some are used as offices of the Government of India and the President’s Secretariat; while some others (the State rooms) are used by Government of India for holding conferences and official receptions. Rashtrapati Bhavan is indeed a remarkable building, not only on account of its impressive size but also on account of its perfect proportion of mass and detail, is colour and its great dome, which dominates for miles the countryside around. The Mughal Gardens lend added charm and grace to Rashtrapati Bhavan. They are matchless for the splash of floral colour.

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