Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rashtrapati Bhavan guest wing, British viceroys and governors, Rashtrapati Bhavan news, India's colonial history, Indian Presidents, Eye 2021, Sunday Eye, indian express, indian express news

When hosts turned company on the Rashtrapati Bhavan


The primary resident of the Rashtrapati Bhavan had an inauspicious starting to his keep on the Viceroy Home. On December 23, 1929, Lord Irwin was travelling by prepare to Delhi, when a bomb was thrown at his viceregal prepare. The nonchalant Irwin is alleged to have remarked, “I heard the noise and stated to myself ‘that should be a bomb’. However as nothing occurred, I went on studying Chaloner (poet and statesman Sir Thomas Chaloner).”

Although solely 5 viceroys had the luxurious of calling the Rashtrapati Bhavan their dwelling, 14 Indian presidents so far, have resided on this magnificent palace. Nevertheless, our presidents by no means actually stayed in the identical rooms that have been as soon as occupied by the Viceroys.

When the Rashtrapati Bhavan was inbuilt 1929, the plan was clear. The south wing was purported to be the dwelling quarters of the viceroy and on the reverse finish, the north wing was to be the visitor wing. Accordingly, the rooms within the south wing have been bigger, imposing and befitting royalty.

Edwin Lutyens took nice pains in designing the interiors and the furnishings himself. When C Rajagopalachari grew to become governor-general, he discovered the dwelling quarters too grand and determined to maneuver to the smaller visitor wing within the northern a part of the constructing.

This follow has been adopted by all of the presidents since then and the north wing grew to become the household wing and the south wing the visitor wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. On reflection, all of the viceroys unwittingly remained company on the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Although it resulted in, fairly unfairly, essentially the most resplendent wing of the palace being least recognized and infrequently visited.
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The Nalanda suite. (Courtesy: Rashtrapati Bhavan Picture Archives)
The visitor wing consists of three flooring, with lavish suites named after British viceroys and governors — Dufferin, Minto, Clive and Curzon. The Irwin and Studying suites, which have been renamed Dwarka and Nalanda, are at the moment used completely for internet hosting heads of states. These suites are distinct from the remainder of the constructing. These are a lot bigger and exquisitely furnished with Burma teak panels, they’ve imported chandeliers from Europe and lavish carpets from Kashmir. However they don’t seem to be actually designed just like the rooms of a palace. There’s a sure homely really feel to it. Maybe, it’s as a result of Lutyens by no means actually was a palace architect within the first place. What he did greatest was design nation houses in England and this love involves the fore within the detailing of the visitor wing.

The furnishings was designed by Lutyens himself and embrace items reminiscent of an unlimited almirah with a drawer that drops all the way down to change into a stepladder; a wardrobe sufficiently big for the company to comfortably get inside and be clothed; nurseries for kids on the third ground that had painted picket chandeliers — “4 praying angels for the night time nursery, 4 galloping horses within the anteroom, and within the day nursery, 4 hens and their chicks with damaged eggs spilling their yolks as the sunshine bulbs!”. There was additionally a nursery loggia, fenced for the protection of the kids, during which have been hung picket cages full with picket birds inside them.
Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rashtrapati Bhavan guest wing, British viceroys and governors, Rashtrapati Bhavan news, India's colonial history, Indian Presidents, Eye 2021, Sunday Eye, indian express, indian express newsRashtrapati Bhavan, Rashtrapati Bhavan guest wing, British viceroys and governors, Rashtrapati Bhavan news, India's colonial history, Indian Presidents, Eye 2021, Sunday Eye, indian express, indian express news A wardrobe designed by Edwin Lutyens. (Courtesy: Rashtrapati Bhavan Picture Archives)
The Royal Institute of British Architects notice that “of their drawings assortment is a design for a nursery wall clock within the type of a bewigged footman, his face being the dial and his eyes the holes for winding him up. One other instance is the mantel clock that Lutyens designed for Girl Willingdon… the clock takes the type of an urn surmounted by a vase finial supporting a flower. That is really a brass key forged as a pansy, by household custom a pun on the French phrase penser, a reminder to wind it up. Lutyens was well-known for his unhealthy puns.”

For all its wit and humour, the visitor wing can be a reminder of how determined the British have been to create a house away from dwelling. Within the opulence of the visitor wing, there’s additionally an angst, a determined anxiousness to make issues final perpetually, although throughout them nothing remained the identical.

Maybe, befittingly, on the partitions of one of many rooms within the visitor wing, nonetheless dangle outdated, pale lithograph plates from the British soldier-painter George Francklin Atkinson’s Curry & Rice that was launched in 1860. These plates depict scenes from a fictional Indian village “kebab” with the colonial officers caricatured to spotlight the absurdity of their conduct in a land detached to them. Atkinson’s satirical work grew to become massively fashionable because it underlined the truth that the British would at all times stay as company on this unusual land.
Rashtrapati Bhavan, Rashtrapati Bhavan guest wing, British viceroys and governors, Rashtrapati Bhavan news, India's colonial history, Indian Presidents, Eye 2021, Sunday Eye, indian express, indian express newsRashtrapati Bhavan, Rashtrapati Bhavan guest wing, British viceroys and governors, Rashtrapati Bhavan news, India's colonial history, Indian Presidents, Eye 2021, Sunday Eye, indian express, indian express news A picket chandelier within the nursery. (Courtesy: Rashtrapati Bhavan Picture Archives)
As soon as the viceroys left, different company have stayed within the visitor wing intermittently. Information point out that between 1947-67, there have been about 32 heads of state who stayed right here. The primary go to of Queen Elizabeth II in 1961 (she would keep twice extra in 1983 and 1997) was notably memorable, since she was there as a visitor in a palace that had been constructed for her. One of many requests obtained from her was for “three 6-foot excessive wardrobes to be transported in standing place and its contents stored prime secret”. Because the contents couldn’t be emptied and the wardrobes have been to be stored standing always, lorries have been specifically designed by the Indian military to safeguard and transport these wardrobes.

The visitor wing has additionally hosted former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev in 1984 and South African President and statesman Nelson Mandela in 1995. There have been additionally visits by the heads of states from China and Pakistan. Former prime minister of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Bogra, stayed twice, in August 1953 and Might 1955, with two totally different wives.

By the Eighties although, the visitor wing had deteriorated resulting from disuse. After a renovation in 2013, Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko stayed right here. The final head of state to remain within the visitor wing, in April 2015, was the at the moment on-the-run Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The visitor wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan will at all times stay because the one thread that connects the constructing to its colonial previous. A reminder to a time when those that got here as company, overstayed for greater than two centuries.

(Praveen Siddharth is personal secretary to the President of India)



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