Sunday, 19 April 2020

Historical Cochin House (now Kerala House), Delhi built during the Raj

Cochin House (now Kerala House), Delhi. en.wikipedia.org
/Kerala House, Delhi, an elephant statue. commons.wikimedia.org
Prior to India's freedom from Britain, the princely states in India had a close relationship with the British Crown because of subsidiary alliance  (first introduced by French Governor Joseph François Dupleix, in the late 1740s - established treaties with the Nizam of Hyderabad, and Carnatic;  British Company officer Richard Wellesley introduced this in 1798  with  the foreign powers). Though, they were autonomous in their internal affairs, the British  did control the external affairs of the princely states. The Raj had a British Resident posted in the capital of the independent Indian states. The Resident acted as a watch dog and kept an eye on the ruler whether he was working against the British interests. For example participating in the freedom struggle against the Raj that was going on at that time  was pinprick for them. Any way, for various reasons the ruler or his representatives had to visit Delhi, the  new capital of the Raj  to keep abreast of the affairs of the state. It was in 1911, New Delhi was announced as capital of then-the British India; before that, it was in Calcutta (Kolkata), West Bengal.  In order to take care of their comfortable stay in Delhi on official work, many Indian Maharajahs and Nawabs had a beautiful residence built  worth their name with all amenities.   
Now called Kerala House is the official state mission of Government of Kerala at New Delhi. Presently, every state of India has to maintain a statutory representative and state mission house in the capital, to liaison with Central Government on behalf of state, a baurocratic tradition introduced during the British Raj.  Previously called  Cochin House  located on  Jantar Mantar Road 3 is  the former residence of the Maharajah of Cochin in Delhi. It was meant for his comfortable stay in Delhi whenever he visited the capital on official work.  
Also known as Cochin State Palace, it was first built by 
Sujan Singh, a prominent Punjabi real estate builder based in New Delhi, as his private residence. Having gained a good name in his real estate and construction business  Sujan Singh and his son Sobha Singh (1890–1978) - fathe of late Kushwant Singh, well-known journalist,   became New Delhi'  major construction contractors or  senior sub-contractors. The house named as Vyukunt, is said to have been an important  landmark in New Delhi in those days.   
A chamber of princes was created in Indian Parliament to represent Indian Native princely states as they were part of New India Constitution.  Consequently, as mentioned  earlier, necessity arose for  Indian Princes to visit New Delhi frequently to attend the proceedings and lend their opinion  and concerns. The ruler of Kingdom of Cochin, H.H Raja Rama Varma Maharajah of Kochi purchased Vyukunt from Sobha Singh in 1920 on his visit to Delhi to attend the  chamber of Indian princes  and  made certain modifications  and refurbished as Cochin State Palace.  Yet another reason was almost all princes were compelled to attend the greatest show on Earth in Delhi  called the Delhi Durbar of 1911 that was held under the direction of Lord Curzon.

1911 Delhi Durbar en.wikipedia.org
Above image:  King George V and Queen Mary at the Delhi Durbar 1911 sitting under specially made 'shamina'. The Delhi Durbar (meaning "Court of Delhi") was an Indian imperial style mass assembly - a sort of pompous show, specifically organised by the British at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the succession of an Emperor or Empress of India. The 1911 Durbar  (the third one) was the only one that a sovereign, George V, attended. 
It was held when India's freedom struggle had begun to move uphill  and caused lots of irritation among the nationalists. 

The term was derived from the common Mughal term durbar............................................
ochin House (Kerala House), Delhi. /alchetron.com

In 1927 the Cochin government built an annex  to the palace to  shift the office and staff quarters. However, in 1940, the annex was handed over to the British to use it as a war office as the WWII was on . Between 1942 and 1945 it became temporary office of the political representative of the USA to Britain. In 1945, after the war, the building came under the control of the Cochin government.   
When  Cochin joined with India Union after independence, Cochin House became the  state property of Kerala Government under the management of PWD, Kerala.  So was  the Travancore House, the former residence of the Maharajah of Travancore,  Kerala that is located close to Kerala House. Kerala House complex, which functions as an embassy of the state to the central government and is catering to the official needs of the MPs from Kerala.  There is a Resident Law officer in Kerala House to look after the legal aspects of Kerala in the Supreme Court and other sub courts. 
A proposal was made  for renovation, as the .building falls within the Lutyens' Bangalow. The old two story structure  that was once occupied by the then princely ruler of Cochin needs to be  preserved for the posterity. The initiative was taken long ago by the former CM  Oommen Chandy. Zonhttps://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/thiruvananthapuram/Nod-for-renovation-of-Cochin-House/articleshow/21538034.cmse (LBZ)building falls within the Lutyens' Bangalow Zone (LBZ)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/21538034.cms?
https://alchetron.com/Kerala-House