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Rashtrapati Bhawan:Facts that you should know about India’s presidential palace

In its documented history of more than 4000 years, India has been the habitation for myriad cultures and civilizations. Today, though those civilizations are extinct but their touch could still be experienced in our food, language, lifestyle or architecture. Being a British colony for 200 years certainly devoured the resources of our country but there are some silver linings too and Rashtrapati Bhawan is certainly one of them.

JaipurColumn present in the front of Rashtrapati Bhawan - Mythical India
        Jaipur Column present in front of the Rashtrapati Bhawan

The stupefying modern edifice is one of the largest presidential palaces around the world second only to the Presidential complex in Turkey which was inaugurated in 2104. Designed by the renowned architect of erstwhile British Empire, Sir Edwin Lutyens, the structure took 8 years, 14 million rupees and the labor of 29000 men to be finished.

Front facade of the presidential complex - Mythical India

The article is an endeavor to unearth some interesting facts about this Indian architectural marvel:

1) Rashtrapati Bhawan: The erstwhile Viceroy House

Britishers planned of building a residential complex for their top most leader, the Viceroy. Thus, erstwhile Rashtrapati Bhawan was known as the Viceroy House which was conceptualized to be a blend of Eastern and Western styles of architecture. When the building was inaugurated in 1929, Lord Irwin and Lady Irwin became the first residents.

Viceroy Erwin and Lady Erwin - Mythical India
                          Viceroy Erwin and Lady Erwin

2) The bitter dispute between rivals

Sir Edwin Lutyens got involved in a bitter dispute with his peer Sir Herbert Baker over the positioning of the secretariat buildings adjacent to Rashtrapati Bhawan and outlined by the latter. The rise of the plateau near these buildings inhibits the view of this complex from distance.

The rise near secretariat buildings, Front view of Rashtrapati Bhawan - Mythical India
    Rise near secretariat buildings inhibits full view of Rashtrapati Bhawan

3) Statistics of Rashtrapati Bhawan

The presidential complex was considered a fitting successor to the grand Raj Bhawan designed by Charles Wyatt in Kolkata. The structure was largest among its contemporaries with 600 feet length and 180 feet in height. The modern palace has 340 rooms and covers an astonishing 4.5 acres of land in built up area.

Floor plan of Rashtrapati Bhawan - Mythical India

4) Vaastu certified structure and location

The location is impeccably suitable for a building of such stature. The front is on Raisina Hills while the back lies at the Purana Quila (One of the oldest forts in Delhi). Thus, the structure is auspicious and anatomically correct according to Vaastu.

Vaastu compliant location of the structure, view with Mughal gardens - Mythical India

Sir Herbert Baker revealed that the site was chosen after due diligence (without keeping Vaastu factor in consideration) and taking into account the road system.

5) The Red Sandstones and Creamstones

Sir Lutyens used Red Sandstone rocks for Rashtrapati Bhawan which was used in historical monuments at Fatehpur Sikri. These rocks were interspersed with cream stone imported from Dholpur and Agra. The pattern accentuates the beauty of the whole edifice.

Corridors with marble patterns on Floor - Mythical India

The building has several minute stone works from Rajasthan also known as “Rajasthani Jaali”. Laborers have spent numerous hours to carve the walls with animal figures such as Elephant.

Animal engravings on the boundary walls - Mythical India

6) Beautiful and serene garden inspired from Mughals

Inspired by the breathtakingly beautiful gardens of Jammu and Kashmir and the gardens around Taj Mahal, Sir Edwin Lutyens designed a garden contiguous to the complex.  Today, we know it as Mughal garden with an area of around 15 acres. The garden boasts to have some endangered species of flora planted there.

Mughal Gardens - Mythical India
                                                 Mughal Gardens

Occasionally, the garden is used for hosting parties. Mughal garden is kept open for public February-March every year.

7) Central Dome

The foremost feature of this structure is the copper-clad central dome. Inspired by an Indian source, the stupas at Sanchi, this hemispherical dome is capped on Octagonal turrets. The dome accords a distinguished look to this princely building.

Hemispherical dome at Rashtrapati Bhawan - Mythical India

Many believed that the dome had byzantine origins but it is widely accepted that Lutyens was influenced by Stupas as they were being restored during the same period.

8) Astonishing halls

  • Ashoka Hall

The heavily ornamented Ashoka Hall is rectangular in shape with 32×20 measures. Primarily built as a State Ballroom, the wooden floored hall has dance space in center and three vestibules. The ceiling of the hall is painted with Persian art.

Ashoka hall with Persian Murals on ceiling - Mythical India
                      Ashoka hall with Persian Murals on ceiling
  • Banquet Hall

The complex has a marvelous dining hall also known as Banquet Hall. With a seating capacity of 104 persons, it usually serves the purpose of hosting small parties by the President. The walls are embellished with the portraits of all former Indian presidents.

Banquet hall with portraits of former presidents - Mythical India
                          Banquet hall with portraits of former presidents
  • Durbar Hall

Durbars used to be of supreme importance in any Indian kingdom. Thus, the hall is used to host state functions like Padma award ceremony etc. Just like a Durbar, the hall used to have thrones for Viceroy and Vicereine, during the British rule.

Durbar hall below the central Dome - Mythical India
                          Durbar hall below the central Dome

The hall is located under the main dome and a 2-ton chandelier hangs from it austerely beautiful and royal. A statue of Gautam Buddha, an antique from 5th century, benedicts the hall from behind.

  • Marble Hall

The hall has enough history to send you down the memory lane. It includes statues of King George and Queen Mary along with life size portraits of former Governors and Viceroys. The Silver chair of Queen and replica of British crown are a treat for the eyes of every visitor.

Marble hall with statues of King george and Queen Mary - Mythical India

9) Mesmerizing corridors

Rashtrapati Bhawan has some amazing corridors. The beauty is captivating and visitors take their time to admire the wall decorations or the fascinating marble patterns on the floor.

Mesmerizing Corridors at Rashtrapati Bhawan - Mythical India

10) Museums and Galleries

  • Kitchen Museum

The museum exhibits crockeries from the period of 1911 when Indian capital was relocated from erstwhile Calcutta to Delhi. The utensils include Copper Ladles, Slicers, Star of India crockery and glazing Silver cutlery.

Kitchen Museum at Rashtrapati Bhawan - Mythical India
                                Kitchen Museum at Rashtrapati Bhawan
  • Gift Museum

The museum houses all the precious and invaluable gifts received by the former Indian presidents. The throne of King George, an intrinsic part of Durbar Hall, is now kept here on display. The gifts also include some original paintings by Thomas Daniell & Samuel Havett.

Gift museum,a collection of gifts received by former presidents - Mythical India

  • Children’s Gallery

Presidential house has a special gallery for children where the gifts given by children to the president are put on display. The gallery also features items which would intrigue children like Musical instruments, Planetary system or devices for optical illusion etc.

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