Rashtrapati Bhavan is now the official residence of the President of India, located at the Western end of Rajpath. It was formerly the Viceroy’s House and has a strong claim to be one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century. It was designed by the great British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944), following the decision to move the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi, following the Delhi Durbar of the King-Emperor, George V in 1911. The site was at that time a wilderness of scrubland, dotted with ruins and the tombs of earlier dynasties. Lutyens designed nothing less than a palace, the centrepiece of New Delhi, a symbol to the world’s greatest democracy. It was constructed to affirm the permanence of British rule in India.
It is a red and cream coloured building (into which it is said that London’s St Paul’s Cathedral could easily fit). It was completed after 17 years work by over 29,000 workers between 1912 and 1929. It was home to a handful of Viceroys in its short history as their residence – Lord Irwin (later Earl of Halifax) (1881-1959), the Earl of Willingdon (1866-1941), the Marquess of Linlithgow (1887-1952), Viscount (later Earl) Wavell (1883-1950), and Viscount (later Earl) Mountbatten of Burma (1900-79). It was also the home of the second and last Governor-General, Chakravarti Rajogopalachari (1878-1972), who followed Mountbatten between 1948 and 1950, at which point India became a republic.
The house is a 340-room main building, which includes reception halls, guest rooms and offices. The entire 130-hectare Presidential estate takes in the presidential gardens (Mughal Gardens), residences of bodyguards and staff, and stables within its perimeter walls. In terms of area, it is the largest residence of any head of state in the world.
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