Rashtrapati Nilayam is the one of two official retreats of the President of India in Bolaram, Hyderabad, the other one being located in hill town of Shimla. So when it is too hot in Delhi, President goes to Shimla and when it is too cold there it is Hyderabad that hardly gets cold. Rashtrapati Nilayam is a 150+-year-old single storey house, one of the many built by the Nizams of Hyderabad, but later served as the residence of British resident at Secunderabad. Post independence it became the President’s home in the south.
Spread over 90 acres, this house in white is relatively small with one wing serving as the private area with bedrooms and living area and the other wind housing a durbar hall and a huge dining area. Private areas are very simple and reminded me of army inspection Bungalows. Durbar Hall and dining hall are made lively by the row of chandeliers that hang from their ceilings. Kitchen is an independent buildings connected to the dining hall through an underground tunnel. Interesting feature of this tunnel is the natural light provided from the openings in the ground above at regular intervals. It is a simple tunnel that provides a safe and secure porting of food from a kitchen that may have been located a bit away so that the residents do not have to hear or smell the kitchen while the cooking is happening. Besides this main building there are staff quarters. Staff lives here through the year while the president possibility stays for few days only.
Various fruit gardens in the campus seem to have been recently planted, as the trees are still young. Herbal garden is a good concept, there is a bit of documentation provided in terms of name, scientific name and the problems that the herbs help resolve. I wish there was more information, but I also understand there is limitation of space for display. This is possibly the biggest herbal plants collection that I have seen in the country. Before the herbal garden, there is a display of traditional irrigation ramp and a brief explanation of the same. Some of the trees in the campus were really old. Along with the Deccan rocks old trees create natural spaces to sit under and enjoy the vast nature reserve in this campus.
Opening up of the Rashtrapati Nilayam for the public started recently and entry is free. Even on a Monday we could see a decent crowd that included many school groups, families and camerapersons from every newspaper & TV Channel. Given the nicely laid roads, landscaped gardens and open space, you wish it should be open to public for the time when president is not in town, may be for few hours for morning and evening walks as this part of the city does not have too many open public spaces. There is a need to provide information on the opening and closing dates and timings, information of what is allowed inside the campus and any restrictions. Even on the official website, nothing is mentioned.
How you wish all our public places were so well maintained!