Friday, August 12, 2011

A glimpse of Lutyens’ H shaped master piece

ONE hundred years ago, British shifted India’s capital from Kolkata to Delhi, and the Viceroy’s House christened as Rashtrapati Bhavan on January 26, 1950 was conceptualized in the same year of 1911. Made with some 700 million bricks, 3 million cubic feet of stone and very little steel, Rashtrapati Bhavan is an “H” shaped structure with 4 floors. It is a widely acclaimed master piece of architecture and a big achievement of Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens.
President of India Pratibha Devisingh Patil recently released a commemorative postage stamp on Rashtrapati Bhavan marking the 80th Anniversary of the commissioning of the building, when the then Governor General of India Lord Irwin became its first occupant. The year 2011 also marks the 100th anniversary of New Delhi.
For those who are not familiar with Raisina Hills, the power centre of Indian bureaucracy, this 340-room building spreading over 200,000 square feet area, is at the middle of the Delhi’s power centre. This is what the building is:
* The use of pink sandstone and Dholpur buff or cream stone establishes the kinship of Rashtrapati Bhavan with Mughal and Rajpur edifices. The most outstanding feature of the House, the large Neo-Buddhist Dome that rises over a vast frontage, pays homage to the Stupa at Sanchi.
* The Mughal Garden, as its name indicates, has the geometric decorum of the gardens at Taj Mahal and Shalimar Gardens at Srinagar.
* Marking the entry point of precincts of Rashtrapati Bhavan is the wrought black lace like grille, acclaimed to be a work of art in itself. It leads into a “T shaped” court with its horizontal portion forming the forecourt, a stage for Ceremonial Guards of Honour held for the visiting Heads of State and Government. In the centre of the jutting section of the T stands the mighty Jaipur Column.
* The forecourt stands out with its 31 steps and colonnaded frontage which comprises a posse of 20 pillars -12 at the front followed by 2 rows of 4 each. In the midst of these and in front of the entrance to the Durbar Hall stands the Ashokan Bull, also known as the Rampurva Bull capital, which dates back to the Asokan period. Built under the dome with a magnificent chandelier suspended from the top of the dome, it hosts the statue of Gautam Buddha belonging to the Gupta age.
* The Ashoka Hall was earlier a ballroom, and at present hosts all major ceremonial functions like Swearing-in Ceremonies and Defence and Civil Investiture ceremonies. It has an elaborately painted ceiling with an oval shaped 9 piece canvas Qajar painting at the centre. The State Banquet Hall has a teak panel wainscoting on which the portrait of the earlier Presidents are displayed, and above the wainscoting is exhibited an assortment of medieval arms.
* Lutyens was very fond of using geometrical permutation in his designs especially the trade mark circular shape.

Action and Appointments
a) Arun Kumar Misra, a 1976 batch UP cadre IAS, presently secretary in the ministry of drinking water and sanitation, has been appointed as secretary, ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation in place of Ms Kiran Dhingra. Ms Kiran Dhingra would be placed on compulsory wait in the ministry of HUPA until further orders.
b) Navin Kumar, a 1975 batch Bihar cadre IAS, presently secretary, ministry of urban development, has been appointed as secretary, ministry of drinking water and sanitation.
c) Sudhir Krishna, a 1977 batch Karnataka cadre IAS, presently special secretary, in the ministry of Panchayati Raj, has been appointed as secretary in the ministry of urban development.
d) Apoowa Chandra, a 1988 batch Maharashtra cadre IAS and joint secretary in the ministry of petroleum and natural gas has been appointed as joint secretary in the department of school education and literacy.
e) Ms Sadhna Rout, a 1984 batch IIS officer and joint secretary in the ministry of women
and child development has been appointed as joint secretary in the ministry of tribal affairs.

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