On AUGUST 2, 2000 the Parliament of India passed the Bihar Reorganization Bill to create the state of Jharkhand, carving 18 Districts out of Bihar to form Jharkhand state on 15 November, 2000.
Jharkhand became the 28th state of the country when it separated from Bihar on November 15, 2000 - the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda. The state shares its borders with Bihar to the North, Odisha to the South, West Bengal to the East and Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the West.
Raj Bhavan, Ranchi, the official residence of the Governor of Jharkhand, is a beautiful building in the heart of the state capital. It is surrounded by lush green lawns and tall trees, truly representing the spirit of Jharkhand. The Raj Bhavan premises are spread over an area of 62 acres, out of which 52 acres are in the main Raj Bhavan Campus and the Audrey House, covers another 10 acres.
The construction of the present Raj Bhavan was started in 1930 and completed in March 1931 at an estimated cost of Rs. 7 lakhs. It was designed by Mr. Sadlow Ballerd, architect. Though the building has primarily a British design, it seems to have been adapted to suit the local climate. The building has a roof with double Raniganj tiles to keep off heat and the floor, lounge and Durbar Hall are lined with teak wood.
Another attraction of the Raj Bhawan is the Audrey house, which has now been converted into a Heritage house. The Audrey House was built much earlier by Captain Hannyington, who was the Deputy Commissioner of Chotanagpur from 1850-1856.
A museum is also being planned in the Audrey house to project the rich cultural heritage of Jharkhand.
A large hall named “Birsa Mandap” is constructed to hold cultural activities and official ceremonies in the premises of the Raj Bhavan has the seating capacity of about 1,500 people.
It is surrounded by acres of lush green gardens and fruit orchards. The pyramidal roof of the main structure is insulated with double Raniganj tiles to keep extreme temperatures at bay. Some of the tiles were probably imported from England and still have ‘Made in England’ etched on them. The ceilings are 18-20 feet high while the walls are 14 inches thick.
It has the Durbar Hall, Dining hall, recreation room, waiting room, sitting room and offices.
This floor has the Governor’s living quarters, presidential office and guest suites.The building on one side is connected to three annexes meant for officers/VVIPS.
The waiting room leads to a large central area, the Durbar Hall, which is used to host official ceremonies and address large gathering.
The walls of the hall bear framed photographs of former Governors, Presidents and Prime Ministers. Adorning the walls are 12 old paintings – four downstairs and eight upstairs - dating back to 1796, by Anglo-French artist Daniel. Several frames by renowned photographer Bishu Nandi – depicting the rich traditions and tribal life of Jharkhand – also embellish the walls.
Every room has a functional fire place while shuttered doors and windows stand sturdy against time. Majestic chandeliers, a few dating back to the British period, spangle the ceilings. Impression of two sealed trapdoors can be seen, one each on the floors of Durbar Hall and the adjoining office, respectively. These trapdoors are connected to underground tunnels, which, as per legends, lead outside the Raj Bhavan into hidden destinations.
The Dining hall can seat 32 persons at a time. The size of the dining table can be adjusted depending upon the number of guests being hosted. Adjacent to the dining hall is a smaller room meant to accommodate to extra people. A manually operated pulley system with a wooden platform was in use during the British period. This arrangement was meant to carry pots and platters of food – up to 30 kg at one go – to the first floor.
A five – bell set hung on pegs in Durbar Hall is noteworthy. Each bell when struck sounded a different note meant for a particular household help. A roster /duty chart was pinned on to the wooden panel beside the bell system allotting duties to various personnel.
The recreation room has a British – era billiards table and modern exercise – bikes and treadmills. It also houses replicas of tusks and horns displayed as hunting trophies.
Two well – carpeted staircase, one from the Durbar Hall and another from the waiting room, lead to the upper storey. One wing of the upper floor – the East Wing – has the governor’s residential quarters while the other one – the West Wing – has seven guest suites named after famous rivers. These are Saket and Swarnarekha suits for VVIP guests, while Alaknanda, Saraswati , Godavari, Koel and Damodar are VIP suits. All these suites are well furnished with a blend of modern amenities and antique furniture.
Raj Bhavan is a repository of a rich collection of Indian classical art and artefacts. Marvelous pieces of paintings of the British period bespeak tales of grandeur of that era. The pieces of artistic wonders that adorn the Raj Bhavan’s interior reflect the eclectic tastes of the Governors who have resided here.
An impressive collection of paintings, crafts, and sculptures showcased here are depictions of the changing times of the state and speak in volumes of the evolving cultural and traditional heritage of Jharkhand. These works of history display various arts and craftsmanship that existed in the state since ancient times.
Several painting in the Durbar Hall done by French – British artist Daniel date back to 1796 and many frames made by renowned photographer Bishu Nandi decorate the walls. Wall paintings made by Raj Bhavan staff member stand out in the brilliance of colour and ingenuity.
Priceless objects and architecture form a part of the rare artistic collections of paintings and sculptures at the Raj Bhavan. They date back to periods of various historical kingdoms, including the British period, and are aide memoire of art forms and styles prevalent during the time. Magnificent paintings tell the tales of the political and socio cultural stories of the period.
The dining table, chairs, crockery cupboard, bureau, a number of crockery and cutlery pieces, wine flutes and goblets, coffee brewer, very big metal utensils, beds, dressing tables, jacket and hat hangers, food – warmer cupboard, statues, ceramic pots, metallic lamp shades, kerosene operated fans and refrigerators, and manual siren – these are some of the antiques belonging to the British time that have been well preserved till date.
Successive Governors of Raj Bhavan have made an effort to build an aesthetic collection of master pieces of art and artefacts representing the historical legacy.
Raj Bhavan consists of gardens named after inspiring and eminent personalities. Sprawling lawns, fascinating fountains and beautiful collections of seasonal flowers are the hallmark of these gardens.
Besides the main building, the lush green campus and the beautiful gardens are also the cynosures of Raj Bhavan . There are lawns and gardens, which have been named after noted personalities such as emperors Ashoka, Phulo Jhano, Gautam Buddha, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, among others.
The campus has some beautiful gardens and fruit orchards. Ashoka Udyaan, the main lawn, is also the largest garden and has more than a hundred varieties of roses. The Murti Garden, named after an old statue of a girl, is another sprawling garden.Buddha Garden, named after Lord Buddha, has a beautiful landscape and a green house.
Phulo Jhano Garden is famous for its musical fountains, the Jawahar Phuhaars.
Lily pond, present in the backyard of the main building, is often used by the governor for his evening walk.
A new Lotus Pond looking beautiful in the garden.
Mahatma Gandhi Aushadhi Udyaan is on the south side of Raj Bhavan . A beautiful fountain stands in the middle of this garden. The Udyaan has a good collection of medicinal plants, spices, herbs,and some very efficacious local medicinal ‘jadi-buties’ used by the tribal people.
A new garden called Nakshatra Van was added in 2003.
Raj Bhavan's gardens have lush green lawns, pathways, flower beds of a variety of seasonal flowers, fountains, benches and lights . It has its own kitchen garden that meets the needs of the household and its staff. The extra produce is sent to some of the orphanages and old-age homes in Ranchi.