An ornate two-ton crystal chandelier hanging 108 ft. (33 m.) from the roof commands attention as one steps into the circular Durbar Hall, a historic niche in the resplendent Rashtrapati Bhavan. The crystals are gleaming, the bulbs luminous, the floor has been scrubbed, portraits restored, columns of marble and stone polished, and the dome-shaped roof has a fresh coat of paint. Durbar Hall, after long years of not being used is ready to host dignitaries and watch events unfold.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s order to use the space in Rashtrapati Bhavan and to throw it open to the country and its people is being followed by restoring all unused rooms, rediscovering old furniture and artifacts, and positioning them as per the original design.
Recently the Durbar Hall was used for the President’s interaction with delegates of the 13th Conference of Chief Justices of the World.
The new acoustics system and fresh set of paintings of Mahatma Gandhi, C. Rajagopalachari, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajendra Prasad and bright wine colored banners with the national emblem are the only recent additions to the room which has a Buddha sculpture dating back to the Gupta Period occupying the pride of place.
The Hall is historic. It was there that Panditji took oath as Prime Minister in 1947; in 1948 Rajaji, the first Governor-General, took oath of office and in 1977 when Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed passed away while in office, his body lay in Durbar Hall.
As part of the ongoing restoration at Durbar Hall, old mirrors that were installed as per the original plan are being reinstated and old photographs are being consulted to locate the artifacts that were installed there.
Restoration is also being carried out at the South Drawing Room, where the Prime Minister used to meet foreign dignitaries who were guests at the Presidential House.
The refurbished and renovated rooms will also be part of the Rashtrapati Bhavan tour.
*Elements of the above excerpted from “A renovated Rashtrapati Bhavan opened to public” – The Hindu