The Dome that crowns Rashtrapati Bhavan is one of the most distinctive feature of the building. Fifty five metres above the level of the Forecourt, it has the National flag hoisted from its peak. The Central dome is twice the height of the building. Bordering the dome are miniature pavilion roofs called chattris and inverted half dome fountains.
Not particularly fond of the Indian style of architecture, Edwin Lutyens had in mind the European classical style for construction of the Bhavan. However, a few Indian architectural styles can be seen as part of the building, including the Central Dome. It is said to be inspired by the Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi. Lutyens, however, openly paid reverence to the Pantheon of Rome in designing it, seldom admitting the influence of the Stupa. The bottom of the dome is surrounded by railings that can also be attributed to the Stupa of Sanchi. The dome is clad in copper plate which has acquired a dark finish over the years.
The Central Dome is the only feature of the Rashtrapati Bhavan that is visible from Vijay Chowk. There was a controversy regarding the slope between Lutyens and his collaborator, Herbert Baker. Baker was commissioned to build the two Secretariat buildings. He had them planned at the same level as Rashtrapati Bhavan. Lutyens, signed the related documents but later realized the implication of it. He understood that, if allowed, Rashtrapati Bhavan’s courtyard would not be visible in its full grandeur from the Vijay Chowk. Lutyens suggested having the gradient redone. However, Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy overruled him on grounds of swelling costs. It is said that Lutyens never forgave Baker nor did he speak to him after the incident as Baker’s Secretariat blocks stand more prominently along the wide approach to Rashtrapati Bhavan whereas one can only see the Central Dome from the Vijay Chowk.Previous Next