Today in New Delhi, India
Mar 21, 2019-Thursday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

Mansion Nonpareil

From its conception by Lord Hardinge in 1914 to its present form, the history of Rashtrapati Bhavan can now be seen in a new book.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2006 13:08 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

From the stage of conception by the then Viceroy Lord Hardinge in 1914 to its present form, the history of the Rashtrapati Bhavan can now be traced pictorially through the pages of a book.

Published by the President's Secretariat, the book Mansion Nonpareil - Marvel on Raisina Hill, offers a rare insight into the Bhawan as an architectural marvel and venue of important state functions over the last 70 years.

With breathtaking photographs selected from the Rashtrapati Bhavan's archives and concise text, it narrates various facets of the President of India's official residence.

The genius of famed British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, who designed the structure, come through in the photographs and the text. Some sketches of his building plan are featured in the book.

"Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy, wanted the building to be completed within four years but it took more than 17 years to finish this gigantic task, the delay primarily attributable to the first World War," the book states.

President Kalam releasing a book on Rashtrapati Bhawan

"The main building constructed by Haroun-al-Rashid cost Rs 14 million at that time. 23,000 labourers including 3000 stone-cutters were engaged during peak activity. 700 million bricks, 1.3 million cubic feet of stone and100,000 cubic feet of white marble from Makrana and Alwar, green marble from Marwar, yellow from Jaisalmer, pink from Alwar, Makrana and Haripas and deep chocolate marble from Italy were used," it states.

The Bhavan is larger than the Palace of Versailles in area and is slightly smaller than the Palace of Westminister, it notes. More

The majestic Ashoka hall and Durbal hall come alive as brief text accompanying the photos explain their architectural splendour.

"The grandeur of the Durbar hall is best appreciated when approaching it through either of the two staircases in ash-grey marble. Daylight enters the hall from the great eye in the dome, from the staircase windows and also through the 12 jallis in the attic. The design of the floor with its astonishing bold scale gives an artisitic touch to the whole interiors," the book explains.

The photo of the banquet hosted by President A P J Abdul Kalam for visiting US President George W Bush in the Mughal Gardens, the fountains rising from the centre of two pools, some rare flowers in full bloom in the Bhavan's gardens and dancing peacocks are some of the book's visual delights.

The book also depicts rare artefacts in the Bhavan like the 'moon rock' and the flower that adorned the mortal remains of the Father of the Nation.

The frangrance of the Mughal Gardens and some changes initiated by Kalam including herbal gardens, spiritual gardens and bio-diversity park are the other highlights.

The 160-page book is authored by Satish Mathur, a civil servant currently serving as Director (Establishment and Administration) in the President's Secretariat.

First Published: Jun 08, 2006 13:05 IST