The more than 80-year-old Rashtrapati Bhavan and the 350-acre Presidential Estate on which it stands is about to get a major face lift to restore it to the way Edwin Lutyens envisaged it in the 1920s. It’s the biggest restoration project undertaken since the estate was opened in 1931 and it’s going to be made more accessible to the public.
The ‘President’s Estate Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan’ will not only restore heritage structures on the estate, including the Rashtrapati Bhavan, but also build or remodel an existing structure into a world-class museum (formerly the President’s garage), underground parking to house the President’s 62-car fleet, and studio apartments for staff working on the estate.
Over the years, new buildings have been added to the complex but new guidelines will act as a blueprint for future interventions, said AGK Menon, convenor of INTACH, which has carried out the study.
“The project is in two phases, the first phase (revamping the estate) is done. We will take up The Rashtrapati Bhavan now,” Menon said, adding “The estate has 68 heritage structures, including clock towers, barracks, four bungalows.”
Many of these buildings were transformed into offices, banks or post offices. “Lot of repair work has been done but with inappropriate material. We are taking care that restoration replicates the methods used originally to build these structures,” he said.
A visitor management plan has also been drawn up to allow more public access to the estate. Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the President, said the museum, “will showcase the history of the place from the time of Viceroys to the present President”.