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Buildings of foreign Missions in India and of Indian Missions abroad

February 23, 2019

 

When India became independent, Chanakyapuri, which is the diplomatic enclave of Delhi, was an undeveloped tract of land known as Gurjar village. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru was also the External Affairs Minister. He took special interest in the development of Chanakyapuri. Countries were given as much land as they demanded. When the question of architecture of the enclave came up, Nehru gave the foreign Embassies the freedom to design their buildings in their own styles. Thus, came into being one of the best diplomatic enclaves of the world - centrally located, well-planned, spacious, close to the Government Ministries and home to wonderful architecture.

 

(Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Chanakyapuri. Photo source: Coffee-Table book “Delhi’s Diplomatic Domains” by Gladys Abankwa-Meir-Klodt)

 

Unlike India, most countries do not have a separate area earmarked as a diplomatic enclave. As a result, Embassies are usually scattered across the city. Indian Embassies in most cities are centrally located largely due to historical reasons and the principle of reciprocity. In many places, Indian Embassies and Embassy Residence (official residence of the Ambassador/High Commissioner) are located in heritage buildings or have been designed by famous architects.

 

[High Commission of India in London (designed by Herbert Baker)]

 

Indian Embassies built in recent times are Indian in design to the extent possible keeping into consideration the local zoning rules.

 

(Embassy of India in Berlin)

 

 (Embassy of India in Doha)


In foreign capitals, where the land allotted to India is large, residences are located within the same complex as the Chancery (the Embassy building). However, this is the case in only about 10 percent of the foreign capitals. In most capitals, therefore, residences of Indian diplomats are located away from the Chancery. Due to functional reasons, a majority of these residences are at close distances from the Chancery.

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