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Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi

India’s most expensive official residence

While millions are homeless, live in appalling conditions in India, the president lives in a palatial 340-room palace. It is the largest residence of any chief of the state in the world.Even as population of people in India’s slums is projected to rise to 93 million in 2011 or 7.75 percent of the total population, our head of the state lives in a grand palace maintained at a cost that runs into crores.In 2007, the maintenance cost of the presidential palace was estimated to be more than Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion) per year! The electricity bill of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 2007-2008 stood at Rs 6.30 crore (Rs 63 million) followed by Rs 6.88 crore (Rs 68.8 million) in 2008-2009 and Rs 6.67 crore (Rs 66.7 million) in 2009-2010. Besides the Rashtrapati Bhavan at New Delhi, the President has official residences in two other states – Rashtrapati Nilayam near Secunderabad and The Retreat at Mashobra, near Shimla.

India’s most expensive official residence

The Rashtrapati Bhavan is one of India’s best architectural marvels. A magnificent four-storeyed mansion, it has a floor area of 200,000 square feet. It was built by using 700 million bricks and three million cubic feet of stone.

India’s most expensive official residence

The cost of building this architectural wonder escalated to Rs 12.8 million, much higher than the projected cost. The building along with the Mughal Garden and the staff quarters together coast a whopping Rs 14 million at that time.
At the present rates, its value would runs into thousands of crores. The building was scheduled to be completed in four years. However, it took 17 years to complete this magnificent building.

Edwin Lutyens was the chief architect of this impressive residence and Hugh Keeling was the chief engineer. The most prominent and distinguishing aspect of Rashtrapati Bhavan is its dome which is superimposed on its structure.
Indian contractor Haroun-al-Rashid did most of the work of the main building and the forecourt was built by Sujan Singh and his son Sobha Singh.

The British decided to build a palatial residence in New Delhi for their Viceroy. They wanted ‘an empire in stone’ to establish their colonial footprint in the Indian soil. It is interesting to note that the building which was scheduled to be completed in four years took seventeen years and on the eighteenth year of its completion India became independent.

After independence when C Rajagopalachari assumed the office as the first Governor General of India, he refused to stay in the Ashoka Suite used by the British Viceroy terming it as too luxurious. He preferred to stay in one of the guestrooms. The tradition was followed by successive presidents.

On 26 January 1950, when Dr Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India, the building was renamed, Rashtrapati Bhavan – the President’s House.

The luxurious apartments that were used by the British Viceroy were converted into a guest wing where the Heads of State of other countries stay during their visit to India.

The highlight of the building is Chhajja. These are stone slabs which are fixed below the roof of a building and are designed for the purposes of preventing the sunrays from falling on the windows and protecting the walls from the rains. Chhatris adorn the rooftop of the building.

Jaalis are also of typical Indian designs, which add beauty to the architecture of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. These are the stone slabs containing lot of perforations, designed with delicate floral and geometric patterns.

The garden has a variety of exotic flowers and roses. The Rashtrapati Bhavan also has nine tennis courts, a polo ground, a 14-hole golf course and a cricket field.
 

 

(contributed by : Amr on 09.08.2012)

 

 

 

 

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