Bengaluru, Aug 16 (IANS) Karnataka Governor Vajubhai R. Vala on Thursday opened his official residence, Raj Bhavan, in the city centre for the public to visit the historic building.
“People of Bengaluru and across Karnataka always wondered what Raj Bhavan looks like, particularly students. So, we have decided to allow visitors free of cost from 4 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. from August 16-31,” Vala told reporters at Raj Bhavan.
Built by a British army officer Sir Mark Cubbon between 1840-42, when he was the Commissioner of then Mysore territories, Raj Bhavan has largely remained unaccessible to the public so far.
“Its premises are like a well-guarded citadel which generally remains closed for the public, as the entry inside the Raj Bhavan has always remained restricted,” a note from the Governor’s Office said.
By making an e-booking on the Governor’s website at least five days prior to their visit, people can go around the 18-acre colonial building with rich history, of which spectacular gardens with over 15,000 plants and trees occupy about 16 acres.
Through the state’s Tourism Department guides, the public, in batches of 30, will be given a 30-minute tour around the premises. An estimated 300-400 people can visit the heritage building each day.
“People can visit the premises and appreciate the history behind it. The visiting hours will be extended if there is high demand for the tour,” the Governor said.
Formerly known during the British era as the Bangalore Residency, or the Mysore State Residency, or the Residency, the Raj Bhavan houses a ‘Glass House’, where state events, swearing-in ceremonies take place, and a ballroom for state functions apart from the residential area.
With 19 bedrooms named after famous Indian rivers and mountains, the sprawling estate displays ancient artefacts and paintings, a few dating back to the 11th century.
The Brahmagiri Presidential Suite of the Raj Bhavan is reserved for the Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers visiting the city.
From former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Prime Ministers have visited and stayed at the two-storeyed majestic residence.
Post Indian Independence in 1947, the building was also used for several meetings of the Congress party, the note added.