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Where remarkable history is lodged

india Updated: Jan 12, 2013 23:16 IST
Nivedita Khandekar
Nivedita Khandekar


Nestled in the leafy Delhi University North Campus is this sparkling bungalow with a sprawling lawn, just near the northern ridge. It not just houses the main office of the most sought-after university, but has a remarkable history as well.

Over the years, the Viceregal Lodge has undergone several alterations but few things remain the same. Deep verandahs are a prominent feature. A projecting entry porch leads to the high ceiling halls and other rooms. The central portion has a basement, which is often thought of as a dungeon where the British would keep imprisoned Indian revolutionaries.

After the 1857 revolt, the area became a British camp. The building was built in 1902 and originally meant as a cantonment for troops. Later, five Viceroys occupied it between 1912 and 1931 before the Rashtrapati Bhavan was built and Lord Mountbatten moved into it. After 1931, the Delhi Conspiracy Commission began operating from its premises. Later, the colonial mansion was finally assigned for the Delhi University. But perhaps the most interesting bit of history is that it was in a room here that Mountbatten had proposed to Edwina Ashley, who later became his wife.

"Its maintenance takes a lot of alertness. It is like taking care of a baby," said Dinesh Singh, DU vice-chancellor.

The university now plans a sound and light show at the lodge showcasing its history.

"We already have students, who are doing their internship, taking people on a guided tour here. We want students to learn history not just from books, but from such live examples too," Singh added.

(A Sunday column in which HT explores a place in today's Delhi and finds out what it used to be once.)