The Guest Wing, also referred to as the South West Wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, consists of three floors, where the first floor is specially reserved for hosting the Heads of State, their consorts and senior members of the delegation. Its two main suites, Dwarka and Nalanda, the erstwhile Irwin and Reading Suites respectively, have accommodated Heads of States, Kings, Queens and other important dignitaries.
Initially, this Wing was used as residence by the Viceroys and their families. However, once C. Rajagopalachari took charge as the first Indian Governor-General he found the Viceroy’s Suite was too extravagant for his taste and liking and he decided to move to the modest, north western part of the building. The tradition was followed by all Presidents and the North West Wing became the Family Wing of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Since then, the Dwarka and Nalanda Suites became Suites reserved for various Visiting Heads of States and their consorts respectively.
The main suites of the Guest Wing have high paneling in Burma Teak, European chandeliers and exquisite Kashmiri carpets. Lutyens designed the furniture himself to suit the temper of the building. The antique furniture that was chosen in England could not be used for the building as the soft wood could not stand the Indian climate, hence the furniture for the Viceroy's House was made from teak. Only the chandeliers came from Europe.
The Dwarka Suite is the biggest of all rooms of the Guest Wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. It measures 40 feet, 10 and a half inches by 19 feet, 11 inches. The second most important room, Nalanda Suite measures 24 feet, 10 inches by 20 feet, four and a half inches. Both these suites have a common loggia with a splendid view of the Mughal Gardens. The Dwarka Suite has a sitting room and a private dining room attached to it. An antique shower is also fitted in the bathroom with surprisingly modern features. Interesting elements of this Wing include furniture that was designed by Lutyens himself. An enormous almirah with a drawer that drops down to become a stepladder is displayed in the corridor of the Guest Wing. It was used to keep ceremonial robes. Rooftop bowl fountains, like the ones visible on top of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, can be seen on top of the wardrobe as well.
Usage of the Guest Wing declined in the 1980s. It is only after the completion of restoration works initiated by President Pranab Mukherjee that the Guest Wing has become functional again. The antique furniture, decorative pieces, drapes and furnishings have all been restored and used for this Wing. The Special guests of the refurbished Dwarka and Nalanda Suites were Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko who visited India in December 2013 and made a brief stopover at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Royal Couple had first visited India in 1960, shortly after their wedding and were hosted by the Indian President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Even though they did not reside at the Bhavan during their stay this time, the couple did use the Dwarka and Nalanda Suites to rest between their official engagements at the Bhavan.
The restoration work of the Guest wing was completed in January 2014 and it was opened for guests after nearly two decades. King of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and Queen Jetsun Pema were the first official guests who stayed in the Guest Wing of Rashtrapati Bhavan after its restoration. Since then it has hosted several leaders from around the world.Previous Next