History of Rashtrapati Bhavan Delhi

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History of Rashtrapati Bhavan Delhi

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Rashttrapati Bhavan : The official home of the President of India

1. The splendour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is multi – dimensional. It is a vast mansion and its architecture is breathtaking. More than these, it has a hallowed existence in the annals of democracy for being the residence of the President of the largest democracy in the world. Few official residential premises of the Head of the State in the world will match the Rashtrapati Bhavan in terms of its size, vastness and its magnificence.

2. Rashtrapati Bhavan is the official home of the President of India. As the plan for New Delhi was developed, the Governor – General’s residence was given an enormous scale and prominent position. The palace developed very similarly to the original sketches which Lutyens sent Herbert Baker from Simla on June 14, 1912. The British architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens design is grandly classical overall, with colours and details inspired by Indian architecture.

3. Meanwhile, between 1911 and 1916, 300 families were evicted under the “1894 Land Acquisition Act” from Raisina and Malcha villages, thus clearing about 4,000 acres to begin the construction the Viceroy’s House. Lutyens and Baker who had been assigned to work on the Viceroy’s House and the Secretariats, began on friendly terms. Baker had been assigned to work on the two secretariat buildings which were in front of Viceroy’s House. The original plan was to have Viceroy’s House on the top of Raisina Hill, with the secretariats lower down. It was later decided to build 400 yards back, and put both buildings on top of the plateau. While Lutyens wanted the Viceroy’s house to be higher, he was forced to move it back from the intended position, which resulted in a dispute with Baker. After completion, Lutyens argued with Baker, because the view of the front of the building was obscured by the high angle of the road.

4. Lutyens campaigned for its fixing, but was not able to get it to be changed. Lutyens wanted to make a long inclined grade all the way to Viceroy’s house with retaining walls on either side. While this would give a view of the house from further back, it would also cut through the square between the secretariat buildings. The committee with Lutyens and Baker established in January 1914 said the grade was to be no steeper than 1 in 25, though it eventually was changed to 1 in 22, a steeper gradient which made it more difficult to see the Viceroy’s palace. While Lutyens knew about the gradient, and the possibility that the Viceroy’s palace would be obscured by the road, it is thought that Lutyens did not fully realise how little the front of the house would be visible. In 1916 the Imperial Delhi committee dismissed Lutyens’s proposal to alter the gradient. Lutyens thought Baker was more concerned with making money and pleasing the government, rather than making a good architectural design.

5. Lutyens travelled between India and England almost every year for twenty years, to work on the building of the Viceroy’s house in both countries. Lutyens had to reduce the building size from 13,000,000 cubic feet ( 370,000 m3 ) to 8,500,000 cubic feet ( 240,000 m3 ). because of the budget restrictions of Lord Hardinge. While he had demanded that costs be reduced, he nevertheless wanted the house to retain a certain amount of ceremonial grandeur.

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The Design of Rashtrapati Bhavan : The official home of the President of India

1. The Rashtrapati Bhavan is a large and vast mansion with four floors and has 340 rooms. It is built on a floor area of 200,000 square feet ( 19,000 m2 ). Situated to the west of India Gate, the building faces east.

2. Various Indian designs were added to the building. These included several circular stone basins on top of the building, as water features are an important part of Indian architecture. There was also a traditional Indian chujja or chhajja, which occupied the place of a frieze in classical architecture; it was a sharp, thin, protruding element which extended 8 feet ( 2.4 m ) from the building, and created deep shadows. It blocks harsh sunlight from the windows and also shields the windows from heavy rain during the monsoon season. On the roofline were several chuttris, which helped to break up the flatness of the roofline not covered by the dome.

3. There were grilles made from red sandstone, called jalis or jaalis. These jalis were inspired by Rajasthani design. The front of the palace, on the east side, has twelve unevenly spaced columns with the Delhi order capitals. These capitals have a fusion of acanthus leaves with the four pendant Indianbells. The bells are similar in style to Indian Hindu and Buddhist temples, the idea being inspired from a Jain temple at Moodabidri in Karnataka. One bell is on each corner at the top of the column. It was said that as the bells were silent British rule in India would not end. The front of the building does not have windows, except in the wings at the sides. Lutyens established ateliers in Delhi and Lahore to employ local craftsmen, The chief engineer of the project was Sir Teja Singh Malik, and four main contractors included SirSobha Singh.

4. Lutyens added several small personal elements to the house, such as an area in the garden walls and two ventilator windows on the stateroom to look like the glasses which he wore. The Vice regal Lodge was completed largely by 1929, and ( along with the rest of New Delhi ) inaugurated officially in 1931. Interestingly, the building took seventeen years to complete and eighteen years later India became independent. After Indian independence in 1947, the now ceremonial governor-general continued to live there, being succeeded by the president in 1950 when India became a republic and the house was renamed “Rashtrapati Bhavan”.

5. Lutyens stated that the dome is inspired by the Pantheon of Rome. There is also the presence of Mughal and European colonial architectural elements. Overall the structure is distinctly different from other contemporary British Colonial symbols. It has 355 decorated rooms and a floor area of 200,000 square feet ( 19,000 m² ). The structure includes 700 million bricks and 3.5 million cubic feet ( 85,000 m³ ) of stone, with only minimal usage of steel.

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Rashtrapati Bhavan : Raisina Hills

1. Raisina Hill is an area of Lutyens’ Delhi, New Delhi, housing India’s most important government buildings, including Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India and the Secretariat building housing the Prime Minister’s Office and several other important ministries.

2. It is surrounded by other important buildings and structures, including the Parliament of India, Rajpath, Vijay Chowk and India Gate.

3. The term “Raisina Hill” was coined following acquisition of land from 300 families from X and Malcha villages. About 4,000 acres of land was acquired under the “1894 Land Acquisition Act” to begin the construction of the Viceroy’s House.

4. The hill is a slightly elevated portion 226 metres ( 741 ft ) high, about 18 metres ( 59 ft ) higher than the surrounding area.

5. In 1911 to transfer the capital of British India from Calcutta ( now Kolkata ) to Delhi, a planning committee was formed, and a site 3 miles ( 5 km ) south of the existing city of Delhi, around Raisina Hill, was chosen for the new administrative centre. A well – drained, healthy area between the Delhi Ridge and the Yamuna River, it provided ample room for expansion.

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Rashtrapati Bhavan : Mughal Gardens

1. The Mughal Gardens situated at the back of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, incorporates both Mughal and English landscaping styles and feature a vast variety of flowers. The Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens are open to public in February every year.

2. Main garden – Two channels running North to South and two running East to West divide this garden into a grid of squares. There are six lotus shaped fountains at the crossings of these channels. Wheresas the energetic fountains rising up to a height of 12 feet create soothing murmur that enthralls the visitor, the channels are so tranquil in their movement that they seem frozen. In the channels at appropriate times of day can be seen reflections of the imposing building and the proud flowers. There are wooden trays placed on stands in the centre of the channels where grain is put for the birds to feed upon.

3. Terrace garden – There are two longitudinal strips of garden at a higher level on either side of the Main Garden forming the Northern and Southern boundary. The plants grown are the same as in the Main Garden. At the centre of both the strips is a fountain which falls inwards forming a well. On the Western tips are located two gazebos and on the Eastern tips two ornately designed sentry posts.

4. Long Garden or the ‘Purdha Garden’ – This is located to the West of the Main Garden, and runs along on either side of the central pavement which goes to the circular garden. Enclosed in walls about 12 feet high this is predominantly a rose garden. It has 16 square rose beds encased in low hedges. There is a red sandstone pergola in the centre over the cental pavement which is covered with Rose creepers, Petrea, Bougainvillea and Grape Vines. The walls are covered with creepers like Jasmine, Rhyncospermum, Tecoma Grandiflora, Bignonia Vanista, Adenoclyma, Echitice, Parana Paniculata. Along the walls are planted the China Orange trees.

5. Around the circular garden there are rooms for Office of the horticulturist, a green house, stores, nursery etc. Here is housed the collection of Bonsais, one of the best in the country.

6. All the Presidents who have stayed at the Rashtrapati Bhavan have taken keen interest in the maintenance and upkeep of the Mughal Gardens. All have contributed in their own way. The underlying themes however have remained unaltered.

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