The erstwhile State of Bhopal and the Britishers signed an agreement under which the Britishers had appointed a Political Agent at Bhopal. This administrative decision was taken during the rule of Nawab Major Mohammad Khan (1816-1819). As per the agreement, a British armed force was also stationed at Sehore Cantt. Upto 1880, the area where the Raj Bhawan stands at present was a military cantonment area. No private construction was allowed in the area.

In 1880, the present Raj Bhawan was constructed by Nawab Shahjahan Begum of Bhopal, as a place of stay for the British officers. It was initially named Lal Kothi. Thus, 1880 onwards, Lal Kothi became the official residence of the British Political Agents posted at Bhopal.

lal kothi in olden days
Lal Kothi in Olden Days

Name based on Appearance

The Raj Bhawan's original name Lal Kothi was very much apt to the situation, for the following reasons :-

  • It was the first Kothi in the city of Bhopal with roof made of red China clay 'Kavelus'.
  • Besides, the predominant colour of the Kothi was red.

For these reasons, it came to be called as Lal Kothi in common parlance, and the name stuck with it for many years - up to the time India became independent.


Some of the facts related to the construction of the Lal Kothi are as follows :-

  • Built in 1880 by the Nawab of Bhopal State, Begum Shahjahan.
  • It was based on European architecture.
  • It was built over an area of 15,423 sq. ft. (0.354 acres)
  • The total cost incurred on construction was Rs. 72,878,3 annas and one paisa.

Construction Sidelights

  • A prevalent custom in the then State of Bhopal (a Muslim State) was that whenever the State or the feudal lords constructed any building, the foundation stone for a mosque was laid first.
  • Thus, first of all a small mosque was built around the campus of Lal Kothi.
  • The erstwhile Bhopal Government had sought the help of the British and PWD authorities in decorating the Kothi on European lines.
  • Austate Cook (a French Engineer) was posted in those days as water works engineer at Bhopal.
  • In consultation with Mr. Cook, the map of Lal Kothi was prepared.
  • Construction of Lal Kothi was taken up under Mr. Cook's supervision.


  • Special attention was paid to providing full and complete security to the British guests who would stay in Lal Kothi.
  • In 1880, the city of Bhopal was confined to Fort Fatehgarh (the remnants of this fort can be seen today around Hamidia Hospital and Gandhi Medical College).
  • Nawab Jahangir Mohammad Khan (1839-1840), father of Nawab Shahjahan Begum Sahiba built Kothi Jahangirabad outside the Fort Fatehgarh as a Cantonment for the Bhopal Regiment. (These days, the Headquarters of Madhya Pradesh Police is located in this Kothi)
  • kothi jehangirabad - now phq, mp police
    Kothi Jehangirabad - Now P.H.Q., M.P. Police
  • Nawab Jahangir also established a Mohalla Jahangirabad (Civil habitation) thereon - at that time the only road leading to Jahangirabad from the old city of Bhopal passed through the Banganga Pullia. Till then Pul Pukhta was not in use for the road facility or transport - today, of course, it is a major link between Jahangirabad and the old city of Bhopal.

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