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India set to finally have a cultural center in Washington DC

Two decades after the first files were moved, India is finally set to have a cultural center in a Washington DC building on U Street, known for its trendy bars with live music. Yashwant Raj reports.

world Updated: Sep 05, 2013 23:37 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times

India will finally have a cultural center in Washington DC soon.

The Indian embassy bought a building, 1438, on U Street, known for its trendy bars with live music, recently, two decades after the first files were moved for a cultural center in DC.

But this is just a shell of a building now, which is likely to take at least a year to be turned into a cultural centre. It may have the Cultural Wing of the Indian Embassy.

The first papers for this building, which once housed a restaurant, a training centre and a conference facility, were signed during the July visit of ICCR chairman Karan Singh.

Once done, the building will have an auditorium, a gallery for paintings and pictures, a library, a conference hall and more - modeled on other Indian cultural centers around the world.

The Indian Embassy has not announced the purchase yet, and may be want to do so during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the US and DC later this month.

India runs 30 cultural centers all over the world - Beijing, Moscow, Berlin, Bali, London, Tashkent, Kathmandu, and has been keen to start one in DC for long.

"My dream, really, is to see a cultural center for India here in Washington, DC," said Indian ambassador to US Nirupama Rao in July 2012.

"And this is a dream that we have been aspiring to see fulfilled for some time now. I think we are nearer that goal."

It took more than a year to get there.

The embassy is now looking for a leading architect to do up the building.

The Indian embassy runs out of two building currently, both on Massachusetts Avenue, also known as Embassy Row (the first embassy here, the British embassy, was designed by Edwin Lutyens, who also did most of New Delhi).

The cultural center will be the third.

What next?
A new building to house the embassy? There has been some talk of moving the embassy into a new, more modern and more spacious building.

ht epaper

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