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    History

    Origins of the Raj Bhavan dates back to the late 1890’s when the British appointed Sir John Claude White as Assistant Political Officer and then later in 1889, he was offered the post of Political Officer of Sikkim.

    Upon Claude's appointment as the Political Officer of Sikkim, the need arose to construct a suitable residence for him. This endeavor proved to be a challenge, given the remote and untamed nature of the region and the region's severe thunderstorms and gusty winds, he transformed the uneven terrain into an ideal space, surrounded by lush lawns and flower beds. A protective forest-covered mountain shielded them from northeast storms, while the front offered breathtaking views of Kangchenjunga and its snowy surroundings.

    The real trials began with the need to source materials and skilled craftsmen. Fortunately, Claude enlisted an exceptional Punjabi carpenter who brought along other skilled artisans. However, the masons proved less capable, resulting in challenges during later phases, especially during wallpaper installation. Structural issues caused by earthquakes and monsoon rains further delayed the construction, casting doubt on whether the residence would ever be completed. Nevertheless, despite numerous setbacks, Claude moved into 'THE RESIDENCY' around Christmas in 1890, after an eighteen-month construction process.

    The Residency when completed was a revelation, an entity of much curiosity for the Sikkimese hitherto not exposed to such a house. They would apparently often call on the Whites and request permission to wander around the house. White recollects that they never touched anything but liked to see how the Whites lived and what European furniture was like.

    Many remarkable events that unfolded and moulded Sikkim's history had the Residency as the springboard. The Residency was the official pivot from which several administrative, political and social changes were brought about in feudal Sikkim and outlying areas. It was the Residency that, for a little over half a century, was a sort of a ground zero or base camp for the British Political Officers and all their official dealings.

    The Political Officer was a member of the Political Service of the British Empire in India, which served in the native states and in areas beyond the frontiers. Though the Political Officer was resident in Gangtok, he was also responsible for official dealings with neighbouring Bhutan and Tibet.

    After John Claude White, the role was succeeded by various other political officers, they were; Charles Alferd Bell (1870- 1945), Major W.L. Campbell (1918 -1919), William Frederick Travers O'Connor (1920),F.M Bailey (1882-1967),Major J.L.R, Frederick Williamson (1891-1935)Sir Basil Gould(1883-1956) , Following Gould, A.J. Hopkinson(1894-1953) the last British Political Officer Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet. He remained in Gangtok until after Indian Independence as Indian political officer, handing over to Harishwar Dayal ICS in 1948, Mrs. Hopkinson joined her husband at the Residency, she had to put her foot down to bring the household in order again. Mrs Hopkinson’s entry in her diary for that day reads as an epitaph for
    the British Raj, “Today we are no longer masters of The Residency.” The entry for September 3rd reads: “a difficult departure. It was very hard to say good-bye to all our good, old servants, so kind and willing, and friends like Sonam and Lobzang. We were loaded with garlands. The school children all turned out and nearly the whole bazaar and the Christian community. It was all rather harrowing especially for Arthur. Later we threw our enormous wads of garlands into the Tista’’.

    INDIA HOUSE @ Barra Kothi
    The Residency then entered the second phase in its history, the era of the Indian Political Officer. The winds of change were sweeping across the Indian subcontinent, and the Indian independence movement was gaining momentum. The Residency stood witness to the growing fervor of nationalism and the aspirations of the Indian people for self-rule.

    In 1947, India finally achieved independence from British rule. With this momentous event, The Residency’s role underwent a transformation. As the British departed from India, The Residency ceased to be a symbol of colonial domination and instead became a part of the historical legacy that marked India's journey towards freedom.

    In the post-independence era, the Indian government took control of The Residency. Recognizing its historical significance, it was repurposed and given a new identity as "India House" or an Indian diplomatic mission.

    India House played a vital role in giving the people of Sikkim the gift of democracy. Through its diplomatic efforts and administrative support, it helped steer the state towards a new era of political empowerment and progress. The introduction of democratic governance not only brought political changes but also paved the way for social, economic, and cultural
    advancements that continue to shape Sikkim's identity as an integral part of India's diverse democratic fabric.

    The Residency was rechristened as India House with Shri Harishwar Dayal as the first Indian Political Officer. This building is considered one of the best embassies of India in view of its design, architect which in fact is the confluence of the British and Sikkimese architects ignited to prominence in the formulation of the Indo-Sikkim Treaty of 1950 which was to govern the Indo-
    Sikkim relations post India's independence.

    Initially, as India House at Gangtok played a crucial role towards the formulation and implementation of the 'Colombo Plan in 1950 and from India House, Gangtok Harishwar Dayal asserted "We should continue to deal with Tibet as an autonomous country on the basis of the 1914 Convention and, when the occasion arises, should let this fact be known to the Communist Government of China. We are also to meet the Tibetan Government's request for arms and military training on a modest scale, on the basis of existing understandings." India House has been host to distinguished personalities including His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Mrs Indira Gandhi, etc.

    The following were the occupants of the India House from 1948 – 1975, a phase Sikkim was to witness momentous political evolution.
    Harishwar Dayal (1948–1952), Balraj Krishna Kapur (March 1952 – 1955),Apa Parshuram Rao Pant (1955–1961) ,Inder Jeet Bahadur Singh (23 October 1961 – December 1963),Avtar Singh (1964–1966),Vincent Herbert Coelho (1966 – 21 June 1967),Nedyam Balachandran Menon (3 July 1967 – May 1970),Inder Sen Chopra (1970 – July 1972),Kayatyani Shankar Bajpai
    1972–1974),Gurbachan Singh( 1974 – 16 May 1975)

    RAJ BHAVAN
    In 1975, the people of Sikkim embraced democracy and joined Indian Union as her 22nd State. Perched atop a ridge, offering a panoramic view of Gangtok's evolving urban spread. Through the passage of time, the house has been a constant amid the ever-expanding city, symbolizing continuity and history amidst the changing face of urbanization.

    However, the passage of time has not been the only challenge faced by the Residency. Given its location in a seismically active zone, earthquakes have exacted a tangible toll on the historical structure. The enduring edifice has weathered the tremors and aftershocks, bearing the scars of nature powerful forces on its venerable façade.

    Throughout the ages, the house has served as a silent repository of Sikkim's rich historical tapestry. Its walls hold the echoes of the past, carrying the weight of Sikkim's journey from independence to integration. In this capacity, the house stands as a poignant reminder of the region's resilience, having withstood the trials and tribulations that have shaped its identity.

    In conclusion, the Residency later India House or Bara Kothi stands as an indomitable figure amid the changing fortunes of Sikkim, its stoic presence a testament to the passage of time and now stands atop as “THE RAJ BHAVAN”. The era of the Governor of Sikkim.