VP’s house consigned to history

- April 20, 2024

The 6 Maulana Azad Road, a British era bungalow that was the home of Vice Presidents since 1962, has been vacated and will soon be razed to give away to a high-rise building

HISTORIC: The 6 Maulana Azad Road was established in 1962 as the official residence of the Vice President of India

The 6 Maulana Azad Road bungalow, which was the official residence of Vice President of India for 62 years — from 1962 to 2024, is being consigned to the footnotes of Lutyens’ Delhi history.

The spacious Raj-era bungalow, which lies close to Vigyan Bhawan and Vigyan Bhawan annexe, has been replaced by the new Vice President’s Enclave which is next to the North Block. 

But it is hard to forget the legacy of the old residence. 

If S. RadhaKrishnan was the first Vice President to be allotted 6 Maulana Azad Road in 1962, Jagdeep Dhankhar was the last to live here. He lived in the house since he assumed the office of Vice President in 2022 before shifting to the new residence this month. 

Between Radhakrishnan and Jagdeep Dhankhar, Zakir Husain, VV Giri, Gopal Swarup Pathak, Basappa Danappa Jatti, Mohammad Hidayatullah, R Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma, KR Narayanan, Krishan Kant, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Venkaiah Naidu also lived in the bungalow. Krishan Kant was the only Vice President who passed away here while still in office (July 27, 2002).

Who designed it?

Madan Thapliyal, the former Director (Information) of NDMC, says, “Almost all the bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi were built before New Delhi was inaugurated on February 13, 1931. They were designed by the celebrated architect Robert Tor Russell under the watchful eyes of Edwin Lutyens, the chief architect of New Delhi.”  

Russell had also designed Connaught Place, Teen Murti Bhawan, Western and Eastern Court. So, we can safely say that 6 Maulana Azad Road bungalow is at least a 90-year-old structure.

EX-VP: Venkaiah Naidu oversaw cultural performances while residing at the 6 Maulana Azad Road

Russell had provided enough space for a garden here. It has many jamun and pomegranate trees. Not many bungalows in this area boast of pomegranate trees. It is said that parrots love to make their nests on jamun and pomegranate trees. That is why hundreds of parrots live on these trees.

“There is also a small mosque inside the 6 Maulana Azad Road. Nobody knows when it was built. It remains closed except during the Ramzan period,” informs Maulana Umer Ilyasi, the head of All India Imam Association.

When the gates were opened for public

The gates of 6 Maulana Azad Road were opened for even commoners during the tenure of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as Vice President of India. 

“Shekhawat ji was a very down-to-earth person and he had many anecdotes to share. He had all the time for his friends and well-wishers. Even during the parliament session, he could spare time for his guests and offer them tea and snacks,” recalls Harish Bhalla, an author and Delhi-based art connoisseur. Shekhawat remained Vice President of India from August 19, 2002 to July 21, 2007.

During Mohammad Hamid Ansari’s time, 6 Maulana Azad Road used to witness book launches very often. Himself an acclaimed author, he gladly met young and accomplished authors. After demitting the office of Vice President on August 10, 2017, he moved to an official bungalow at Janpath. There too Ansari releases books.

When veteran BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu became Vice President of India, he would sit on the lawns of his official residence to do Yoga along with some members of his staff almost daily. 

An ex-staffer of Vice President office, who does not wish to be identified, says, “Mr Naidu spent more than an hour in his daily yoga exercises.”

Now all decks have been cleared for the demolition of the bungalow. As per the government’s Central Vista redevelopment plan, a high-rise building would come up for the staff of various central government ministries on the site.

NEW LOCATION: Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar shifted to the new official residence of the Vice President near North Block this month

It will signal the end for not just the bungalow but also all those parrots and other birds that have been living on dozens of trees of the campus.

They chatter so loudly and without break that it is often hard to hear what your companion is saying. 

One wonders where they would go once the bungalow is razed.