Ram Nath Kovind's parting gifts: Visual history of predecessors; glimpse into Lutyens' floor patterns : The Tribune India

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Ram Nath Kovind's parting gifts: Visual history of predecessors; glimpse into Lutyens' floor patterns

‘Moods, Moments and Memories’ released today is a selection of unusual photographs of the first 13 Presidents

Ram Nath Kovind's parting gifts: Visual history of predecessors; glimpse into Lutyens' floor patterns

Fifth President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signs a portrait (March 11, 1975).



Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, July 24

A visual history of 13 past heads of state and a research repository of striking geometric flooring patterns that adorn Rashtrapati Bhavan are among the parting gifts from outgoing President Ram Nath Kovind to the people.

Unveiled on Sunday evening in the presence of President Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the publications are part of President House's mission to open up the palatial residence of the head of the state to the citizens.

“Moods, Moments and Memories” presents a selection of unusual and informal photographs of the first 13 Presidents. The photo archive – a selection from Rashtrapati Bhavan’s photo archives consisting of over 5 lakh images -- offers rare glimpses of the lives of former Presidents, presenting their never-seen-before human side and enriching their portrayal in the nation’s memory.

"These are chapters in a pictorial history, capturing myriad moods, moments and memories of the presidency," top sources said sharing exclusive details of the work with The Tribune.

Rare images in the book feature India's first President Rajendra Prasad offering a coconut to the sea at Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu and performing a Hindu ritual on his birthday; of the third President Zakir Hussain joining devotees at Jama Masjid for Eid prayers and of S Radhakrishnan studying a file resting in his bed.

The book shows former President VV Giri parenting the family's pet dogs and on another occasion sharing tea with Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

Former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed is seen enjoying a game of golf in President House and in another shot proceeding with the Haj pilgrimage, while Giani Zail Singh is caught in a light moment playing Holi at Mughal Gardens.

“Interpreting Geometries", the second book dedicated to people today, examines flooring patterns in 40 central spaces of Rashtrapati Bhavan where the President hosts his guests.

Led by Chandigarh College Architecture principal Sangeeta Bagga, the authors of the work say it became imperative to document the unique repository of flooring patterns designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for the abode of the Viceroy of India in 1912, a project that went on till 1929.

“We spent seven months studying the patterns which are unmatched in beauty and detail. The first volume decodes and documents 32 designs. We are yet to study the designs in other parts of the H shaped building,” Bagga told The Tribune on Sunday.

The idea of the publication stemmed from the inherent importance of the building as the residence of the first citizen of India.

Both publications are courtesy the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Sangeeta Bagga on flooring designs of President house

"A reconnaissance survey of the building we carried out revealed the exquisite patterns of flooring with a unique geometric layout and composition. These flooring patterns, both floral and abstract, run through different areas and yet bind the spaces together. The use of red sandstone, buff stone, marbles, Indian patent stones, wood and terrazzo present a visual aesthetic which enhances the spatial quality, sequentially as well as flow of spaces from one area to another. It is a unique example where a building of such colossal and palatial nature and proportion in India has utilised the art of geometry in flooring which has further enhanced its exuberance. Our book documents this beauty."

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