Raj Bhavan is the official residence of the Governor of West Bengal, located in the state' capital city Kolkata. Built in 1803 it was known as the Government House in the pre-independence days. Later after the transfer of power from the East India Company to the British Crown in 1858 it became the official residence of the Viceroy of India, shifting here from the Belvedere Estate. With the shifting of capital to Delhi in 1911 it became the official residence of Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. Since independence in 1947 it serves as the official residence of the Governor of West Bengal and came to be known as the Raj Bhavan, a name it shares with the official residences of other states' governors.
In the early nineteenth century Calcutta (Kolkata) was at the height of its golden age. Known as the City of palaces or St. Petersburg of the east, Calcutta was the richest, largest and the most elegant colonial cities of India. It was during this time one of Calcutta's finest colonial structure the Government House (later Raj Bhavan) was constructed.
Before 1799 the Governor General resided in a rented house, called Bukimham House, located in the same location. The land belonged to Mohammad Reza Khan, a Nawab of Chitpur. It was in 1799 the then Governor General of India, Lord Wellesley, took the initiative of building a palace, because he believed that India should be ruled form a palace and not from a country house. Wellesley wanted to make a statement to the imperial authority and power and so the building was done on a grand scale.
The plan comprises a central core with four radiating wings. The state rooms located in the central core are accessed from the outside by a flight of grand steps on the north. On the south is another portico surmounted by a colonnaded verandah with a dome above. The four wings accommodate the various offices and residential quarters along with four sets of staircases. The plan of the wings allows for a great deal of natural ventilation in the spaces while also permitting views across the gardens. The entire compound is surrounded by a balustrated wall with a grand arched gateway at each of the four cardinal points. The plan of the building is very typical, a little like a man standing on his feet and holding two boxes in his two hands. The front of the palace faces north-east.
The three storied Raj Bhavan building with a huge central area consisting of large halls has curved corridors on all four sides radiating to detached wings, each constituting a house in itself. There are about 60 rooms in Raj Bhavan, beside public halls, verandahs, porticos, banquets & halls and the sumptuous Throne room.
The residential portion is divided into four suites. The Prince of Wales Suite in the north-west wing of the first floor is where the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister of India and head of state of other nations reside when visiting the state of West Bengal. The Wellesley Suite is located on the second floor in the north-eastern wing, the Dufferin Suite is on the second floor of north-west wing, and the fourth suite is the Anderson Suite.
Drawing and Dining Rooms:
Halls and Banquet Rooms:
- Yellow Drawing Room
- Blue Drawing Room
- Brown Dining Room
- Throne Room
- Council Chamber
- The Marble Hall
- The Banquet Hall