Rashtrapati Bhavan – Most expensive home in India
We had recently written an article about the house being constructed by Mukesh Ambani in South Mumbai. Quite a few people have been landing up at the article after having searched in Google using the keywords containing “most expensive house”. This started me out on an interesting search… Is it really the most expensive home ever built?The answer wasn’t hard to find. It isn’t. Not by a long shot. Not even by Indian standards. In fact all of us are already familiar with a more expensive house built in India – our very own ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’.
Here are some interesting facts about it:
- 17 long years were required to complete (1912-1929) its construction. Then on its 18th year, India became independent. Interesting, because the house was built as a symbol of British Imperial strength. J
- The cost of construction was an astounding 14 million rupees. Not sure how much that would be in today’s prices, but that is astronomical by the standards of pre-independent India.
- At today’s real estate prices, the land itself will be worth more than 16,000 crores ($4 Billion). The house is built on an area of 335 acres or so, right in the heart of New Delhi. After all, New Delhi itself was designed by Lutyens with Viceroy’s house as its centre.
- The building has 340 rooms within its 4 storeyed structure.
- At one time 2000 people were required to look after it. Not sure whether that is still the case though. Might have been a colonial time extravaganza.
- Although Lutyens and Baker – the two main architects, quarreled bitterly over the details of New Delhi and Viceroy’s house (they actually ceased speaking to each other), the eventual results is considered to be an elegant mix of Western and Indian styles. Indian architectural patterns such as Buddhist railings, chhajjas, chhatris and jaalis are found in the building. Chhajjas are stone slabs designed for preventing the sunrays from falling on the windows and protecting the walls from the rains. Chhatris adorn the rooftops of the building through their elevated positions. Jaalis are stone slabs designed with delicate floral / geometric patterns.
- At 630 feet long, it is longer than the Versailles Palace.
- By the way, the place also has nine tennis courts, a polo ground, a 14-hole golf course and a cricket field.
To the west of Rashtrapathi Bhavan is the elegant Mughal Gardens, which occupies an area of 13 acres. It has Mughal style canals, fountains and terraces at different levels with flowering shrubs and Western style lawns, hedges and flower beds.
To the east lies a vast court with the huge Jaipur column of red sandstone. It is topped with a bronze lotus and the six pointed glass star of India, in the centre.
To all Indian Presidents’ credit, none of them have ever occupied the actual Viceroy quarters, deeming it to be too extravagant in nature. Instead all have occupied certain portions of the guest enclave of the building.
By the way, I can think of at least one other home building which might be even more expensive than the Rashtrapati Bhavan (not in India, though). Will cover that after some more research.
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