New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) From polishing marble walls and floors to putting up new banners and upholstery, the iconic Durbar Hall at Rashtrapti Bhavan is being refurbished for more functions and to attract the general public.
The south drawing room and the long drawing room of President Pranab Mukherjee's official residence are also under renovation.
"The Durbar Hall had not been in much use for a long time but the president wants every corner of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to be used. The hall will be used to host functions while the two drawing rooms will be used for meeting dignitaries and diplomats," Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the president, told IANS.
As part of the refurbishing, old carpets, artefacts and paintings are being brought out.
"We will be displaying portraits and photos of leaders who inspire us as well as how the Durbar Hall used to look like in the olden days. It will be a trip down memory lane," he said.
Floors, walls, lamps and vases are being scrubbed, cleaned and polished with chemicals approved by the Archaeological Survey of India so as not to damage heritage, Rajamony said.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is open to general public on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
In addition to the Durbar Hall, they can visit the museum, Ashoka Hall and two drawing rooms.
At least six teams of Central Public Works Department personnel are working round-the-clock with consultants to spruce up the interiors.
However, pigeons are keeping the workers on their toes.
"It is a big challenge to keep them out as they always find a way to come in from some gap," said Rajamony.
"We are always on the look out for bird droppings on the walls, floors and paintings."
The Durbar Hall, called the Throne Room during the British era, is set to host the 9th Asean-India Commemorative Summit Dec 20-21. The hall has a two-tonne chandelier hanging from a height of 33 metres.
On Aug 16, 1947, the hall played host to the swearing-in ceremony of the new government, headed by Jawaharlal Nehru, by then Governor General Lord Mountbatten.