Category Our Presidents

Why is it said that the role of the president’s bodyguard is twofold?

           The role of the President’s bodyguard is twofold – ceremonial and operational. The President’s Bodyguard (PBG) is an elite household cavalry regiment of the Indian Army. The PBG was raised by Governor Warren Hastings in 1773. It is the oldest surviving mounted cavalry and the senior most regiment of the Indian Army.

             The PBG today comprises four officers, 14 Junior Commissioned officers and 161 Bodyguards plus administrative staff. Equipped with armoured cars, its men are also trained for operational duties, both as tank men and airborne troops.

             The President’s Bodyguards are seen as an integral part of all State functions, or receptions by the President of India.

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Is Rashtrapati Niwas a Presidential retreat?

               The Rashtrapati Niwas, also known as Vice regal Lodge, was formerly the residence of the British Viceroy of India. It is the most historically significant and architecturally impressive building.

               After India got independence, the building came to be known as Rashtrapati Niwas and housed the presidential establishment. However, it was of little use to the President of India who visited the place only for a few days in a year. So, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the second President of India transferred the building to the Ministry of Education to be handed over to the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.

               The Himachal Pradesh High Court, the C.P.W.D., and the Himachal Pradesh University were allowed in due course to use some of its buildings.

              Mahatma Gandhi visited the Vice regal Lodge four times for negotiating Indian Independence.

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Which are the retreat residences of the President of India?

               There are two retreat residences for the Indian President, one in the north and the other in the south. Rashtrapati Nilayam, originally known as Residency House, is the official retreat of the President of India, in the south. It is located in Hyderabad, Telangana, where the President stays at least once a year and conducts official duties.

               The building belongs to the Nizam era. It is also used as a guest house for visiting dignitaries. It became the country house of the British Resident in 1870 and was used as the summer resort for the British Resident to Hyderabad state.

               One that is in the north is ‘The Retreat building’. This estate is in Chharabra, Shimla, in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is located 13 km away from downtown Shimla.

               The President visits ‘The Retreat building’, at least once a year, and the core office shifts to that place during this time. About 304 metres higher than the Shimla Ridge Top, ‘The Retreat building’, is located in a picturesque surrounding.

               This building has an area of 987.37 square metres. The beautiful architecture is a major tourist attraction.

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Which are the most popular halls in the Rashtrapati Bhavan?

               There are two halls of major importance in the Rashtrapati Bhavan – the Durbar Hall and the Ashoka Hall. At the end of the Durbar Hall, there is a statue of the Buddha that dates back to the 4th century.

               The magnificent Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan bears testimony to the historic moment of the swearing-in ceremony of Independent India’s first government.

               The Durbar Hall is now used by the President of India to confer prestigious honours on recipients. Swearing-in ceremonies are also conducted at the Durbar Hall.

              The Ashoka Hall is the most meticulously beautified of all the halls. It was originally built as a state ballroom with wooden flooring.

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When was the construction of Rashtrapati Bhavan completed?

            It was in the British era that the construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan took place.

            Hard work of thousands of labourers including masons, carpenters, artists, carvers, and cutters saw the completion of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the year 1929. Originally built as the residence for the Viceroy of India, the building later became today’s Rashtrapati Bhavan.

            The construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the then Viceroy’s House, was started in 1912, and completed in 1929. It took 17 years to be completed.

            The decision to build a residence in New Delhi for the British Viceroy was taken after it was decided during the Delhi Durbar in December 1911, that the capital of India should be relocated from Calcutta to Delhi. About 4,000 acres of land was acquired to begin the construction.

             The renowned architects, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker designed the complex in a splendid manner, giving it an expansive 330 acres area and a prominent presence in the new capital. Lutyens’ design is grandly classical overall, with colours and details inspired by Indian architecture.

            On 26th January 1950, when Rajendra Prasad became the first President of India, and occupied this building, it was renamed as Rashtrapati Bhavan — the President’s House.

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Why is the Rashtrapati Bhavan significant?

               The Rashtrapati Bhavan located on the Western end of the Rajpath in New Delhi, is the official residence of the president of the world’s largest democracy- India. It is one of the most iconic monuments in India.

               It was originally built with the intent of serving as the British Viceroy’s House. With its 340 rooms in the main building covering 5 acres on an estate of 330 acres, it is one among the largest residences of a Head of State in the world, in terms of area.

               Rashtrapati Bhavan was the creation of two great architects, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker.

              Besides the President’s official residence, halls, guest rooms and offices, the Rashtrapati Bhavan also includes huge presidential garden called Mughal Gardens, large open spaces, residences of bodyguards and staff, stables, other offices and utilities within its perimeter walls.

               Every year, Mughal Gardens behind the Rashtrapati Bhavan is opened for public during a festival called Udyanotsav.

Picture Credit : Google


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