Ram Nath Kovind, the BJP’s candidate for the presidential election, secured an easy win against Opposition pick Meira Kumar today to be elected as the 14th President of India.
The former Bihar governor, who was born in Kanpur, will take the oath of office on July 25 and move to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee will leave for his new residence at 10, Rajaji Marg.
When Ram Nath Kovind enters Rashtrapati Bhavan, he will step into a building that was transformed from an imperial mansion into an institution of democracy on January 26, 1950. When Dr Rajendra Prasad occupied the building as country’s first President, the Viceroy’s House was renamed as Rashtrapati Bhavan.
THE MAKING OF RASHTRAPATI BHAVAN
The initial amount sanctioned for the construction of Rashtrapati Bhavan was 400,000 pounds. It took 17 years to finish building the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1929 and by then the construction cost had escalated to 877,136 pounds (In 1929, this was Rs 1.28 crore approx).
Add to that the cost of constructing Mughal Garden and the staff quarters, the total cost of building the entire Rashtrapati Bhavan complex stood at Rs 1.4 crore approx.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has a total of 340 rooms spread on four floors. The mansion has a floor area of 200,000 square feet and was built with 700 million bricks and three million cubic feet of stone. The Rashtrapati Bhavan was built using almost no steel.
THE INDO-EUROPEAN ARCHITECTURE
Edwin Lutyens acknowledged the influence of Roman architecture in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Yet, the building also reflects various motifs from Indian architecture, such as chhatris and jaalis.
Temple bells have been used in the pillars of Rashtrapati Bhavan, an idea that came from a Jain temple in Moodabidri in Karnataka.
THE MUGHAL GARDEN
The Mughal Garden boasts of 250 varieties of roses, making it one of the best rose gardens in the world. Ram Nath Kovind will organise ‘At Homes’ on Republic Day and Independence Day every year in the Central Lawn.
The lawns in the main garden are covered with ‘Doob’ grass which was originally brought from Belvedere Estate in Kolkata.
Peacocks are a regular sight at the Mughal Garden, while once in a while a cormorant can also be spotted.
The President’s Bodyguard was raised in 1773 by then Governor Warren Hastings in Benares. The regiment was formed as a select cavalry unit with the role to “act as bodyguard to the governor in peace and to accompany him as Commander-in-Chief in battle”.
The President’s Bodyguard excel in ceremonial procedures, are trained as combat paratroopers and armoured vehicle crewmen.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RETREATS
The President of India has two retreats in the country–one in Mashobra, Shimla and the other in Bolarum, Hyderabad.
Ram Nath Kovind, who was denied entry to the Retreat Building in Shimla two months ago, is set to be the custodian of the presidential retreat.
The presidential retreat in Shimla is an entirely wooden structure and is located on the hill top of Mashobra.
The presidential retreat in Hyderabad, called the Rashtrapati Nilayam, is an 1860-built building with 11 rooms. The building was taken over from the Nizam of Hyderabad after Independence and handed over to President’s secretariat.