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Rashtrapati Bhavan – Most expensive home in India

Posted by Williams on November 17, 2007

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We had recently written an article about the house being constructed by Mukesh Ambani in South Mumbai. Quite a few people have been landing up at the article after having searched in Google using the keywords containing “most expensive house”. This started me out on an interesting search… Is it really the most expensive home ever built?

The answer wasn’t hard to find. It isn’t. Not by a long shot. Not even by Indian standards. In fact all of us are already familiar with a more expensive house built in India – our very own ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’.

RBhavan Front

Here are some interesting facts about it:

  1. 17 long years were required to complete (1912-1929) its construction. Then on its 18th year, India became independent. Interesting, because the house was built as a symbol of British Imperial strength. J
  2. The cost of construction was an astounding 14 million rupees. Not sure how much that would be in today’s prices, but that is astronomical by the standards of pre-independent India.
  3. At today’s real estate prices, the land itself will be worth more than 16,000 crores ($4 Billion). The house is built on an area of 335 acres or so, right in the heart of New Delhi. After all, New Delhi itself was designed by Lutyens with Viceroy’s house as its centre.
  4. The building has 340 rooms within its 4 storeyed structure.
  5. At one time 2000 people were required to look after it. Not sure whether that is still the case though. Might have been a colonial time extravaganza.
  6. Although Lutyens and Baker – the two main architects, quarreled bitterly over the details of New Delhi and Viceroy’s house (they actually ceased speaking to each other), the eventual results is considered to be an elegant mix of Western and Indian styles. Indian architectural patterns such as Buddhist railings, chhajjas, chhatris and jaalis are found in the building. Chhajjas are stone slabs designed for preventing the sunrays from falling on the windows and protecting the walls from the rains. Chhatris adorn the rooftops of the building through their elevated positions. Jaalis are stone slabs designed with delicate floral / geometric patterns.
  7. At 630 feet long, it is longer than the Versailles Palace.
  8. By the way, the place also has nine tennis courts, a polo ground, a 14-hole golf course and a cricket field.

To the west of Rashtrapathi Bhavan is the elegant Mughal Gardens, which occupies an area of 13 acres. It has Mughal style canals, fountains and terraces at different levels with flowering shrubs and Western style lawns, hedges and flower beds.RBhavan Mughal Garden

To the east lies a vast court with the huge Jaipur column of red sandstone. It is topped with a bronze lotus and the six pointed glass star of India, in the centre. RBhavan Court View

You can also view the Satellite image and the roadmap of the area. 

To all Indian Presidents’ credit, none of them have ever occupied the actual Viceroy quarters, deeming it to be too extravagant in nature. Instead all have occupied certain portions of the guest enclave of the building.

By the way, I can think of at least one other home building which might be even more expensive than the Rashtrapati Bhavan (not in India, though). Will cover that after some more research.

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Posted in garden, Independent Home, India, Luxury home | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Mukesh Ambani’s new house – Antilla

Posted by Williams on November 4, 2007

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Thought it will be interesting to cover the house being constructed in Mumbai’s Altamount Road by the world’s richest man – Mukesh Ambani. Yep, he’s officially the richest now with the skyrocketing share prices of RIL.

Mukesh Ambani residence

The house (called Antilla) is being valued at Rupees 4000 crores and will be 173 metres tall. Normally that is the equivalent of a 60 storeyed tower, but in this case each floor is more than twice the height of a normal floor, with the result that the building will only have 27 floors when completed. Given the prevailing state of skyscrapers in Mumbai, this building will be more than twice as tall as the earlier tallest buiilding. The view from the top will be breathtaking, no doubt.

Some other absurd facts about this ‘house’..

  1. 3 helipads on top. Mumbai corporation has not given permission for making this operational yet.
  2. Hanging gardens within the structure
  3. Swimming pool within the structure
  4. A two storey Health centre
  5. Parking space for 168 cars (6 floors). I initially thought that meant there will be a mini office in the building but apparently that is not the case. All these cars will belong to Mukesh Ambani! Just in case you are interested, he drives a 5 crore Maybach now.
  6. A floor exclusively for servicing these automobiles within the building.
  7. A floor for Home theatre – sitting capacity of 50

Most absurd of all, the house will have a staff of 600 (sic) to do the maintenance activities. That gives a ratio of 1:100 for people living in the house and those who are paid to take care of it. The six lucky (?) ones are the man himself, his wife, his 3 children and his mother Kokilaben. The family will be moving in from their old home ‘Sea Wind’ which was a 14 floor building at Cuffe Parade.

In fairness, Mukesh bought the property in 2002. So he has not spent anywhere close to the $1 billion people are now valuing the property at. And it is not just him, plenty of other rich tycoons have indulged in their residences. Two people who immediately come to mind are Mittal & Gates.

UK-based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal (he is still an Indian citizen though) bought the most expensive house in London last year, paying £60m for a place in Kensington Palace Gardens.Microsoft founder Bill Gates had his house built as technology showpiece several years back. The house is reputed to have cost upwards of $100 million. I will write about this particular property sometime in the future. It is much more interesting than the Ambani house, because Gates tried to implement many new, yet to be proven technologies in his blueprint.

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Posted in House, Independent Home, Luxury home, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Indian Plants : Easy, Aesthetic and Useful

Posted by sudarsan on September 27, 2007

Seeing places abroad as well as commercial establishments locally, influenced a lot of Indians to move away from fruit & flower bearing trees to landscaped gardens with exotic grass, palms and evergreen shrubs.    Lets analyze this in detail and see what works well for us.

Home Garden

 Image Courtesy: http://www.casabaan.com

Korean Grass

Though Korean grass does not need periodic trimming it need a lot of water, periodic manuring, as well as well prepared landscape. Arugam Pull(used in prayers to Sri Ganapathy), is a versatile local variety that grows well without much personal attention, and does not need big investments nor maintenance.  A big plus with this grass is that it is soft and cool to sit on.  Crab grass from Malaysia or US ($10 seed+manure packet can cover 1000 sq feet) consumes less water, but needs periodic trimming to maintain the green patch.

Ornamental plants for landscaping

1. Ixora – This is a shrub endemic to India, and very popular in Europe as well.   Ixora has thin stalks with star like flowers that comes as a bunch (as a child we used to take one by one and suck out the little honey out of these flowers).  It comes in colours such as white, pink and coral red.   It can be maintained as a small shrub or can be allowed to grow as  a tree.   A bunch of flowers remain fresh for at-least a week and adds a mild fragrance to the breeze.   With this plant you will have tiny bees and butterflies visiting your home.  The flowers can also be harvested to string garlands.  This is a perennial, so you can see flowers throughout the year. A picture is shown below.


Image Courtesy: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com

 2. Turmeric, Ginger, Chitharathai, Yam – All these plants have a similar look and grows very well in our climate.    Suited for planting on the side of the pathways.  These plants can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

3. Climbers – Sweet potato (Velli Kizhangu), Jasmine (Nitya Malli) are excellent climbers that need very little soil, manure and water, but offer extensive coverage.   Nitya Malli flowers daily throughout the year.

4. Flowering plants – Chrysanthemum (Samanthi), Bhadrakshi, Jasmine (Gundu Malligai), Kanakambaram, Sampangi are nice flower bearing plants.  My pick is Bhadrakshi for landscaping as it is easy to grow and is a perennial.

5.Exotics – If you have a large home with huge grass lawns, adding a lotus/lily pond would be very appealing.   However you may have to populate the pond with some fishes and frogs to get rid of mosquitoes.

6.Trees – Arecanut (Paaku), Jackfruit (Palamaram), Gooseberry (Nellikai), Plantain/Banana, Casuarina, Bamboo, Teak, Badam are the best picks for trees that add to landscaping value as well as good utility value for homes.  Mangoes, Coconuts, Sappotta, Maghizamaram, Shenbagham are very nice trees too, but may not necessarily fit into a landscaping profile.

7. Plants for remote spots – You may have noticed hard-to-reach points in your building that would look nice with some plants.  At such places Perandai (Cactus variety, but can withstand downpours as well), Aloe Vera (Katrazhai) can grow well without letting in pests.

 It is a long Indian tradition that food itself is treated as medicine, so lets look at landscaping the Indian way: Easy, Aesthetic and Useful.

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Posted in Environment, Exteriors, garden, Independent Home, Tips | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Pathway Flooring

Posted by sudarsan on August 30, 2007

If your house is under construction, a very valuable tip for saving costs.    Interlocking tiles are better than Eurocon/Ultra kind of concrete designer tiles for the following reasons,

1. Interlocking tiles can be laid on bare earth (no need for preparation using PCC foundation or masonry, which are required for concrete designer tiles)

2. Interlocking tiles can be relaid

If your house is just finished, and not your pathways, you can occupy the house the very next day using interlocking tiles.   Later on when the fresh ground settles, you may notice some interlocking tiles caving-in.   You can remove the individual tile and lay sand underneath or fill sand across the pathway and relay the interlocking tiles.    Also if you want water to drain off the interlocking tiles, you can simply fill some cement plaster at the joints.   Of course I have used both for my home, as Concrete designer tiles has  a great aesthetics, especially near the entrance.   

Cost of Economics:

Interlocking tiles:

Tile: Rs.15 – Rs.25 /sq foot

Ground preparation: Sand at Rs.30 cu/feet, approx. Rs.5-10/sq foot of tile.

Labor: < Rs.3 / sq foot

Concrete tiles:

Tile: Rs.35 – Rs.45 /sq foot

Ground preparation: Sand Rs 5-1o /sq foot, PCC Rs.25-30/sq foot, Plaster Rs15-20/ sq foot

Labor: Rs.12/sq foot

So we are looking at 3-4x savings using interlocking tiles, which have the added convenience that it can be relaid.

Posted in Floor, Home, House, Independent Home | 2 Comments »

Independent home or an Apartment

Posted by Vivek on August 29, 2007

After a series of articles on home appliances (which probably got a little monotonous 🙂 ), I decided to write a few general articles while retaining the overall theme of “house to home”.

Today, I am touching upon the topic, “independent home/Apartment”.

I know that given a choice, anybody would go for an independent home, well almost. But the shooting real estate prices and lack of security have caused many to consider the apartment option.

Typically, an apartment offers the home owner a space with essential rooms in it.

  • A Hall/dining room
  • A kitchen
  • A bedroom (possibly with attached bathroom)
  • A bathroom

Bedrooms offered depend on the package and can range from 1 to even 4 with choice of individual attached bathrooms.

The number of bedrooms determines the price of the apartment and you can chose based on your budget limits.

Apartments also offer an option of a car park for which the users need to pay extra money. The car park can be an open, or a covered car park and this depends on the builder/promoter of the apartment.

Apartments also are usually housed in multi-storey buildings. So an elevator is pretty much a given. These facilities like elevators, common area cleaning, security guard and so on, attract monthly maintenance charges which the apartment association collects from home owners. This can vary between 500 rupees a month to even 2000 rupees a month.

An apartment offers convenience to its owners because lots of common facilities tend to open up nearby like supermarkets, vegetable markets etc. Also service providers like cable operators, newspaper agents, milk vendors, cloth ironing services all are easily accessible.

What apartments lack and usually independent homes tend to offer is privacy. For people who want a serene atmosphere with not much of distraction from neighbours, an individual house is a good option. Of-course the price is a considerable deciding factor here.

What individual homes lack the most is perhaps security. The uber rich Indian families deploy home security guards and gadgets which give them some peace of mind. But this only further adds to the cost.

Common payments such as property tax, water tax, electricity bills etc., are easily paid out if one is living in a community. For individual home owners this is something of a bother.

To summarize, if you are a privacy lover and feel that no builder can give you interiors which matches your requirements, and of-course you have some money to buy a piece of land to construct your dream home – Individual home is the way to go.

Else there is an apartment out there waiting for you to purchase it 🙂

 Comments on this article are most welcome.



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