Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Exhilarating Raj Bhavan, first colonial building, Kolkata

Raj Bhavan, Kolkatta.rajbhavan Kolkata.gov.in

If you want to visit the fascinating colonial buildings that were once the seats of power, Kolkata is a perfect destination for exploration and fun, for it became the capital of British India soon after the transfer of power from the EIC to the British Crown. The amazing buildings built in typical European style in this part of the world will lure your senses and take you right back to the colonial days. They were all built when the British were in the height of power  and glory across the globe and Calcutta was the second largest and richest city next to London in the British empire.  Among the old British Scottish churches and innumerable buildings, the  present official  residence of the Governor of West Bengal -  Raj Bhavan is an amazing building built by the British.
Raj Bhavan, Kolkata. www.gettyimages.in
Built in 1803, it was previously known as the Government House in the per-independence days. Upon the take over of the East India company by the British Crown in 1858, it became the official residence of the Viceroy of India, shifting here from the Belvedere Estate. Soon after, the shifting of capital to Delhi in 1911, the building was occupied by the  Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. Since  August 1947, it has been the official residence of the Governor of West Bengal. It came to be called  the Raj Bhavan. This name refers to all official residences of Governors of different states.
At this residence when the new party comes to power after the state assembly election, the ministers are officially sworn in here after the Governor's approval.

In the early period prior to 1799, the British Governor used to live in rented residences and officials needed a spacious, airy building to take care of various aspects of administration - such as spacious offices, guest houses, meeting halls, etc.
 

It was in 1799 the then Governor General of India, Lord Wellesley, for the first time, took  the initiative to have a palatial building to match the authority and the regal powers of the rulers. He impressed on the imperial authority and power to have a building built on a grand scale. It took 4 years to complete the building work at the cost of 63,291 pounds - present value is about 3.8 million pounds. Lord Wellesley  was called back to England and was accused of having misused the Company money. Anyway, credit goes to him for the construction of first ever colonial building in Kolkata,

The building designer  Capt. Charles Wyatt built the building in  Neoclassical style with distinct Baroque overtones. Only after 1860 new changes were introduced to the building - a metallic dome was added by Viceroy Lord Elgin. Lord Curzon introduced electricity and also lift in the building for better services.

The Raj Bhavan covers an area of 84,000 sq. ft. and lies with in a compound  covering an area of 27 acres of land. It  has impressive 6 gate ways one each on North & South and 2 each on East & West. The 4 gates on the East & West have a grand arch ways crowned  with a lion. The minor archways on the side are topped with Sphinx.

The central core area of Raj Bhavan has four radiating wings. State rooms are in the core area and are accessible from outside by  a flight of grand steps on the north. A portico  surrounded by colonnaded veranda with a dome above is on the south side. The four wings with four sets of stairways  form the offices and residential areas and are well ventilated. The compound wall is surrounded by a balustraded wall with a grand arched gateways.  There are about 60 rooms in Raj Bhavan, beside public halls, verandas, porticoes, banquets & halls and the  Throne room. The four residential suits are quite interesting. The Prince of Wales Suite in the north-west wing of the first floor is where the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister of India and head of state of other nations reside when visiting the state of West Bengal. The Wellesley Suite is located on the second floor in the north-eastern wing, the Dufferin Suite is on the second floor of north-west wing, and the fourth suite is the Anderson Suite.



Interior Raj Bhavan, Kolkata. rajbhavankolkata.gov.in
Interior Raj Bhavan, Kolkata. rajbhavan .rajbhavankolkata.gov.in
The Banquet Hall is for entertaining eminent guests. It has  rows of Doric  pillars on each side with flowering chandeliers and black Mahogany tables. The throne room has the throne of Wellesley and the throne of Tipu Sultan. Besides, there are paintings
Raj Bhavan, Kolkata,entrance gate, en.wikipedia. org
of Gandhi, Subash Chandra Bose, Nehru, et al.

The Raj Bhavan in Kolkata, the first colonial building to have appeared in India towards the end of  1700s mainly for official purposes is a great heritage building hidden within a vast compound surrounded by acres of land. It was from here, the English merchants and later the British crown expanded the British empire.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raj_Bhavan_%28West_Bengal%29