Secunderabad, Dec.21(ANI): President Pranab Mukherjee presented a copy of a book on Rashtrapati Nilayam, Secunderabad to E. S. L. Narasimhan, Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh today at Rashtrapati Nilayam, Secunderabad.
Anuradha Naik, Conservation architect from Hyderabad,who has authored the chapters on Bolarum and the Rashtrapati Nilayam of the book, was also present on the occasion.
The book titled ‘The Presidential Retreats of India’ which features the Rashtrapati Nilayam and the Retreat at Mashobra was commissioned by the President’s Secretariat and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).
It has been published by Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and will be available soon for public in its outlets. It was formally released in New Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 11, 2015, the birthday of the President.
The book has been edited by eminent author Gillian Wright who has also contributed a chapter on life in the Rashtrapati Nilayam. Award winning photographer Andre Jeanpierre Fanthome has taken the photos.
The chapters on Rashtrapati Nilayam are titled “The Supreme Commander’s Southern Retreat: Bolarum”, “Of Presidents, Residents and their Residence: The Story of the Rashtrapati Nilayam” and “The Southern Sojourn”.
The Residency House, Bolarum was constructed in 1833. Until then, the British Residency in Koti, which was constructed in 1803, was the principal home of the Resident. The one in Bolarum was built so the Resident could remain closer to his troops and away from the Nizam’s court and the bazaars.
The location of the Residency House was carefully chosen. It is protected by the Secunderabad cantonment to the south and the Bolarum cantonment to the north.
Despite the tensions that existed between the British and the Nizam during the entire nineteenth century, the Resident and the ruler lived side by side as neighbours at Bolarum.
Although colonial in appearance, the building was constructed using local materials and labour provided by the Nizam’s Government.
A quotation for the electrification of the Residency House given in 1914 has been discovered which provides the original layout of the building and organisation of rooms. The arrangement of rooms is distinctive of the British colonial style of architecture, indicating that although the building was built and supervised by local masons and contractors, it was designed by a British engineer.
Another element of colonial design was the separation of the kitchen from the main house. At the Residency House, the two are connected by a vaulted tunnel with submarine-like skylights, creating a fantastic and quirky route for a wholly domestic purpose.
The simplicity of the bungalow’s exterior was made up for by the grandeur of its interiors. Remarkably, lying unseen for a century or more, records still survive that make it possible to reconstruct a detailed picture of how the Residency House would have looked.
The Residents’ wives aspired to standards nothing short of the Nizam’s. In a letter to Sir Faridoon Jung, following the electrification of the Residency and the replacement of lamps, Lady Violet Pinhey wrote, “.the present lighting are those old chandeliers, very fine in themselves but, not having candles now in their empty brackets, look very ugly. I want them made with lamps like H.H. has at King Kothi”.
In the last decade leading up to Independence, the Resident gave up the use of the Hyderabad Residency altogether and moved to Bolarum due to the activity at the cantonment during the Second World War.
Research has revealed that the first mention of troops in this area comes from November 1782.Bolarum itself first became a military base when the Russell Brigade was formed in 1812. It is not correct that Bolarum was an extension of Secunderabad and developed in the mid 19thcentury.
Bolarum was always a small military cantonment, and was given the epithet,Chinna Lashkaror small encampment (chinnameaning small in Telugu), by the locals. Permanent construction in Bolarum began in 1841 (unlike Secunderabad where it began after 1860).
The most prominent of the houses in Bolarum were the Residency, the house of his First Assistant to the Resident, and the houses of the Nizam and Salar Jung. The Holy Trinity Church in Bolarum dating from 1846 was constructed on land donated by the Nizam, the cost of construction being borne by Queen Victoria. Nearly a century and a half later, Queen Elizabeth II visited the church with her husband Prince Phillip.
From records in the British Library it has been possible to trace the visits of Viceroys to the Bolarum Residency. For example, in 1884 Lord Ripon stayed here when he came to formally invest the young Nizam Mahboob Ali Khan with administrative powers. In 1919, after the First World War in which over 74,000 Indian soldiers laid down their lives, Lord Chelmsford held a reception here for British and Indian officers, and in 1944, in a crucial period of in modern India’s history, Lord Wavell chose to meet the Resident one-to-one as they played a round of golf on the neighbouring and historic course.
In 1947, the Residency House was transferred to the Nizam’s government, along with the Hyderabad Residency and other political buildings that were used by the British.
There were several proposals for the use of the Residency House in the eventful year between August 1947 and September 1948. The Department of Health of the Nizam’s government wished to make it a tuberculosis sanatorium and the Director of Education to use it as a public school that would have both Princes as students.
KM Munshi, India’s Agent General (5thJanuary – 21stSeptember 1948) used it briefly as his residence on the recommendation of Lord Mountbatten from the 5thto the 15th of January 1949.
Following the merger of Hyderabad State with the Indian Union, the Military Governor, General J.N. Chaudhari, used it as his official residence. He entertained and met members of Hyderabad society at the Residency House.
The first chief minister of Hyderabad State, M K Vellodi (1949-1952) was sworn-in on the 1st of December 1949 in the grounds of the Residency House and used the building as his Secretariat.
In 1955, a decision was taken by the Government of India to make the Residency House the President’s “permanent seasonal residence in the south” and to rename the estate “Rashtrapati Nilayam.”
Interestingly, the suite of rooms in the east wing originally occupied by the Resident is today allocated to the President’s staff. The western suite of rooms that comprised the ballroom and rooms for guests of the Resident are today the President of India’s private rooms.
The focus of the Residency House has shifted from the inside to the outside. Beautifully maintained gardens and orchards now welcome visitors each winter, much to the delight of the Hyderabadi citizen. The magnificent granite boulders and grand old Tamarind, Mango, Banyan, Neem and Frangipani trees continue to charm each guest. Groves of mango, pomegranate, guava, custard-apple and coconut have been planted. A herbal garden and the Nakshatragarden, designed to represent the nine constellations, are meaningful additions to the landscape of the Nilayam.
The Presidents of India have placed importance on the Nilayam as a potent symbol of national integration as well as base to tour the south. The President’s visits to the Nilayam have come to be called the ‘Southern Sojourn’.