The Raj Niwas

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The Raj Niwas, the Office-cum-Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, located at 6 Ludlow Castle Road (as Raj Niwas Marg was previously known), has had a very interesting and chequered history, stretching over almost two centuries of the building and its immediate neighbourhood being the administrative nerve centre of Delhi.   In 1803, the British East India Company installed the position of a ‘Resident’ at the Mughal Court in Delhi, re-designated as the ‘Political Agent of the British Government’ from 1813, as the de facto colonial administrator of the by then severely eroded Mughal empire. Soon the search began for a residence and office fitting this official’s high stature. An appropriate house was found in Ludlow Castle, an imposing structure built in 1813 for the residence of Samuel Ludlow, the Residency Surgeon, and located to the north of the walled city. With Dr. Ludlow having been transferred out of Delhi in 1831, the house could be procured on rent for the office and residence of the Agent, and from 1832 to 1857, Ludlow Castle became the Delhi Residency.

After the 1857 upheaval, and the consequent annexation of Delhi to British India, Delhi became a Division of the Punjab Province rather than a sovereign princely state, and shorn of the hallowed position of a ‘Resident’ or ‘Agent’, the British Administration in Delhi was now to be headed by a mere ‘Commissioner’. Ludlow Castle, damaged severely in 1857 and refurbished, continued to be the office and residence of the Commissioner of Delhi, but by 1886 it was felt that the Castle was too big and the rent too high for the residence and office of a Divisional Commissioner. Accordingly, in 1886, it was decided to rent two smaller houses – one just behind Ludlow Castle, from Seth Lakhmin Chand, as the Commissioner’s Residence, and another some distance away, from Sheikh Hafeezullah, as his office. Read More