Rashtrapati Bhavan
The Rashtrapati Bhavan or The Official Residence of the Head of the State is the official residence
Official residence
An official residence is the residence at which heads of state, heads of government, gubernatorial or other senior figures officially reside...

 of the President of India
President of India
The President of India is the head of state and first citizen of India, as well as the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. President of India is also the formal head of all the three branches of Indian Democracy - Legislature, Executive and Judiciary...

, located at Raisina hill
Raisina Hill
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...

 in New Delhi
New Delhi
New Delhi is the capital city of India. It serves as the centre of the Government of India and the Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. New Delhi is situated within the metropolis of Delhi. It is one of the nine districts of Delhi Union Territory. The total area of the city is...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. Until 1950 it was known as "Viceroy's House" and served as the residence of the Viceroy and Governor-General of India. It is amidst an area known as Lutyens' Delhi
Lutyens' Delhi
Lutyens' Delhi is an area in Delhi, specifically New Delhi, India, named after the leading British architect Edwin Lutyens , who was responsible for much of the architectural design and building when India was part of the British Empire in the 1920s and 1930s...


At present, it is the largest residence of any Chief of the State in the world. The construction of the building was planned for 4 years, but World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 intervened and construction required 19 years to complete. Its first occupant, Lord Irwin, began occupation on January 23, 1931.


During the Delhi Durbar
Delhi Durbar
The Delhi Durbar , meaning "Court of Delhi", was a mass assembly at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the coronation of a King and Queen of the United Kingdom. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times, in 1877, 1903, and 1911, at the height of the British Empire. The 1911...

 year of 1911, it was decided that the capital of India would be relocated from Calcutta to Delhi. This was announced on December 12 by King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

. As the plan for New Delhi was developed, the Governor-General's residence was given an enormous scale and prominent position. The British architect Edwin Landseer Lutyens, a major member of the city-planning process, was given the primary architectural responsibility. The palace developed very similarly to the original sketches which Lutyens sent Herbert Baker
Herbert Baker
Sir Herbert Baker was a British architect.Baker was the dominant force in South African architecture for two decades, 1892–1912....

 from Simla
Shimla , formerly known as Simla, is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India. A popular tourist destination, Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills," a term coined by the British...

 on June 14, 1912. Lutyens' design is grandly classical overall, with colours and details inspired by Indian architecture.

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
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected 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 of the palace, Lutyens argued with Baker, because the view of the front of the palace was obscured by the high angle of the road.
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 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.

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 13000000 cubic feet (368,119 m³) to 8500000 cubic feet (240,693.2 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.


The Rashtrapati Bhavan is a large and vast mansion with four floors and has 360 rooms. It is built on a floor area of 200000 square feet (18,580.6 m²). Situated to the west of India Gate
India Gate
The India Gate is the national monument of India. Situated in the heart of New Delhi, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It was built in 1931...

, the building is facing east.


Various Indian designs were added to the building. These included several circular stone basins on the top of the palace, as water features are an important part of Indian architecture. There was also a traditional Indian chujja or chhajja
A chhajja is the projecting or overhanging eaves or cover of a roof, usually supported on large carved brackets. It was used extensively by Hindus for thousands of years, and then more recently borrowed by the invading Muslim empires into the common vocabulary of “Mughal Architecture."It forms...

, which occupied the place of a frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 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 stopped harsh sunlight from getting to the windows and also stopped rain during a monsoon season. On the roofline were several chuttris, which helped to break up the look of the flat part of the roofline not covered by the dome. Lutyens appropriated some Indian designs, but used them sparingly and effectively throughout the palace. There were also statues of elephants and fountain sculptures of cobras in the gar of the retaining walls, as well as the bas-reliefs around the base of the Jaipur Column, made by British sculptor, Charles Sargeant Jagger
Charles Sargeant Jagger
Charles Sargeant Jagger MC was a British sculptor who, following active service in the First World War, sculpted many works on the theme of war...

. The column has a "distinctly peculiar crown on top, a glass star springing out of bronze lotus blossom",

There were grilles made from red sandstone, called jali
A jali is the term for a perforated stone or latticed screen, usually with an ornamental pattern constructed through the use of calligraphy and geometry. Early work was performed by carving into stone, while the later more elegant used by the Mughals employed the technique of inlay, using marble...

s or jaalis. These jalis were inspired by Indian 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
Acanthus (ornament)
The acanthus is one of the most common plant forms to make foliage ornament and decoration.-Architecture:In architecture, an ornament is carved into stone or wood to resemble leaves from the Mediterranean species of the Acanthus genus of plants, which have deeply cut leaves with some similarity to...

 leaves with the four pendant Indian bells
Bell (instrument)
A bell is a simple sound-making device. The bell is a percussion instrument and an idiophone. Its form is usually a hollow, cup-shaped object, which resonates upon being struck...

. The Indian temple bells are a part of the culture of Indian religions, such as Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and Buddhist, the idea being from a Jain temple at Moodabidri
Moodabidri , is a small town 37 km northeast of the Dakshina Kannada district headquarters, Mangalore, in Karnataka, India....

 in Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

. 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 palace does not have windows, except for the wings at the sides. Lutyens established ateliers in Delhi and Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 to employ local craftsmen, The chief engineer of the project was Sir Teja Singh Malik, and four main contractors included Sir Sobha Singh
Sobha Singh
Sobha Singh may refer to:* Sobha Singh , builder of Delhi* Sobha Singh...


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 Viceregal Lodge was completed largely by 1929, and (along with the rest of New Delhi) inaugurated officially in 1931. It is interesting to note that the building was completed in seventeen years and only 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".

Lutyens stated that the dome is inspired by the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 of Rome. There is also the presence of Mughal
Mughal architecture
Mughal architecture, an amalgam of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian architecture, is the distinctive style developed by the Mughals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries in what is now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It is symmetrical and decorative in style.The Mughal dynasty was...

 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. It was built in 1919 with 340 rooms.


The plan of the palace is designed around a massive square although there are many courtyard
A court or courtyard is an enclosed area, often a space enclosed by a building that is open to the sky. These areas in inns and public buildings were often the primary meeting places for some purposes, leading to the other meanings of court....

s and open inner areas within. There are separate wings for the Viceroy, and another wing for guests. The Viceroy's wing is a separate four-storey house in itself, with its own court areas within. The wing was so large that the first president of India decided not to stay there, staying in the guest wing, a tradition which was adopted by subsequent presidents. At the centre of the main part of the palace, underneath the main dome, is the Durbar Hall, which was known as the Throne Room during British rule when it had thrones for the Viceroy and Vicereine (his wife). The interior of this room and almost all the rooms of the palace are bare, relying on the stonework and shapes to show austerity rather than intricate decoration. In the hall, the columns are made in Delhi order which combines vertical lines with the motif of a bell. The vertical lines from the column were also used in the frieze around the room, which could not have been done with one of the traditional Greek orders of columns. The hall has a 2-ton chandelier which hangs from a 33-metre height. On each of the four corners of the hall is a room, including two state drawing rooms, a state supper room and the state library. There are also other rooms such as many loggias (galleries with open air on one side) which face out into the courtyards, a large dining hall with an extremely long table, sitting rooms, billiards rooms, and a large ball room, and staircases. Water features are also through the palace, such as near the Viceroy's stairs, which has eight marble lion statues spilling water into six basins. The lions symbolise Britain, as the lion was often used for this purpose. There is also an open area in one room to the sky, which lets in much of the natural light.


The dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

 in the middle involved a mixture of Indian and British styles. In the centre was a tall copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 dome surmounted on top of a drum, which stands out from the rest of the building, due to its height. The dome is exactly in the middle of the diagonals between the four corners of the building. The dome is more than twice the height of the rest of the building.

The height of the dome was increased by Lord Hardinge in the plan of the building in 1913. The dome combines classical and Indian styles. Lutyens said the design evolved from that of the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 in Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, while it is also possible that it was modeled partly after the great Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

 at Sanchi
Sanchi is a small village in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, it is located 46 km north east of Bhopal, and 10 km from Besnagar and Vidisha in the central part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. It is the location of several Buddhist monuments dating from the 3rd...

. A porch is around the dome with evenly spaced columns which support the dome, with an open area between the columns. Because this goes the whole way round, it makes the dome appear from any angle that it is floating as seen in the heat haze of Delhi. The reinforced concrete shell of the outer dome began to be formed at the beginning of 1929. The last stone of the dome was laid on April 6, 1929.


The main entrance to Rashtrapati Bhavan is known as Gate 35, and is located on Prakash Vir Shastri Avenue
Prakash Vir Shastri Avenue
Prakash Vir Shastri Avenue is an urban street road in New Delhi, known for spanning the majority of the city and classically housing the city Members of Parliament for the state of Uttar Pradesh. The avenue also contains Gate 35, which serves as the main entrance to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the palatial...

, renamed from North Avenue in November 2002, as a memorial to the politician Prakash Vir Shastri
Prakash Vir Shastri
Pandit Prakash Vir Shastri was a noted Member of the Parliament of India .Born on December 30, 1923 as Om Prakash Tyagi in the village of Rehra to a sepoy father, he earned his Shastri degree from Banaras Hindu University.- Career :Shastri was born in the village of Rehra in the J.P...

 (1923-1977), who served here during his tenure as a Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for the state of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh abbreviation U.P. , is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 200 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity...


Mughal Gardens

The Mughal Gardens situated at the back of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, incorporates both Mughal and English landscaping styles. It displays numerous types of flowers and is open to public in February every year.

In popular culture

  • The song Des Rangila from Fanaa
    Fanaa (film)
    Fanaa is a 2006 Hindi romance film, starring Aamir Khan and Kajol in pivotal roles. It is directed by Kunal Kohli who previously directed Hum Tum, and is produced under Yash Raj Films. The film also stars Rishi Kapoor, Tabu and Sharat Saxena.Fanaa was released on 26 May 2006, in India...

     was shot at Rashtrapati Bhavan including its rehearsal scenes.


First restoration project at the Rashtrapati Bhavan was performed in 1985 and ended in 1989, during which the Ashoka Hall was stripped of its latter additions and restored to its original state by the work done by architectural restorer, Sunita Kohli
Sunita Kohli
Sunita Kohli is an Indian interior designer, architectural restorer and furniture manufacturer. She had restored and decorated Rashtrapati Bhavan , Parliament House Colonnade , the Prime Minister's Office and Hyderabad House in New Delhi.She was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in...

. The second restoration project, begun in 2010, involved Charles Correa
Charles Correa
Charles Correa is an Indian architect, planner and activist.-Early life:Charles Correa was born in Hyderabad, India...

 and Sunita Kohli.

Further reading

  • Davies, P. (1985). Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1660 to 1947, John Murray Ltd, London.
  • Gradidge, R. (1981). Edwin Lutyens, Architect Laureate, George Allen & Unwin, London.
  • Irving, R. (1981). Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker, and Imperial Delhi, Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , New Haven.
  • Nath, A. (2002). Dome over India: Rashtrapati Bhevan, India Book House Pvt Ltd, New Delhi.

External links

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