On March 1, 2014 I got an opportunity to visit Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Presidential Residence of the World’s largest democracy. As part of Pranab Mukerjee’s (current President of India) mission to bring Rashtrapati Bhavan closer to public, guided tours of the Bhavan are being offered to general public (since 2013). The Change of Guards ceremony, conducted every Saturday at the forecourt of the Bhavan will also be accessible to the public. Newly built Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum was opened on August 1 2014 (its construction was going on during my visit). A visit to the Mughal Gardens (open during February-March) will make the visit to the Bhavan complete.You can find the details about the registration process for visit at the bottom of the post.
Saturday, 1st March 2014: I am back at Delhi after my Srinagar-Jammu-Punjab trip. Next day, I will be flying back to Thiruvananthapuram, my hometown. My energy levels are alarmingly low and my body was urging for rest, but not before the visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Reached Raisina Hill at around 9 am; the Change of Guards ceremony was scheduled at 10 am. The notorious winter in Delhi was slowly giving way to warmer days. The air was chill and my jacket was doing a good job. I was standing at one side of Rajpath that runs from Rashtrapati Bhavan to National Stadium. North Block and South Block lies on either side of Rajpath. These 2 symmetrical blocks of Secretariat Building houses the most important offices of Government of India. Prime Minister’s Office, Defense Ministry, and External Affairs Ministry are in South Block. North Block houses the Home affairs and Finance Ministries. Still, photography is allowed in this high security zone. Government staffs were entering the building after passing through a metal detector and a quick check by the security officials. On enquiry, security staff confirmed that the ceremony was cancelled as the forecourt turned muddy due to overnight rains. I decided to walk towards Mughal Gardens which is behind the Bhavan.
another shot of North Block
Some regional film’s shooting
Front gates of Rashtrapathi Bhavan
Following pictures were taken during my walk towards Mughal Gardens
Walk to office
Renovation work going on around the Statue of Govind Ballabh Pant, read more about him in Wikipedia.
Parliament of India – Temple of Democracy
Me in front of Parliament
Mughal Gardens: The entry and exit to the Gardens is through gate number 35. The camera and backpacks needs to be deposited at the counter (free of charge), mobiles are allowed – but mobile photography is prohibited. The garden is divided into unique sections – Herbal Garden, Bonsai Section, Mughal Garden, Rose Garden and Circular Garden. There are souvenir shops near the exit point.
Guided tour of Rashtrapati Bhavan: My tour was scheduled at 1 PM. Entry is through gate number 2 and 37. The print out of confirmation e-mail along with the identify proof will be checked at the reception. We are supposed to report 15-20 minutes before the scheduled time. Bags, camera and mobiles needs to be deposited at the lockers. The 40 minute or so guided group tour is led by an English & Hindi speaking guide. After explaining about the history and importance of Rashtrapati Bhavan, we were taken to Marble Hall where huge marble statues and paintings of colonial rules are kept, the Kitchen Museum, Durbar Hall, Gift Museum where the Gifts received by the President during official visits is displayed, North Drawing Room – The President receives the visiting country heads and delegates here, Long Drawing Room – where Governors and Lieutenant-governors meet the President, Ashoka Hall, Banquet Hall, and Library – a treasure trove of rare books
By 2 pm the tour was over. After taking some photos of the forecourt and front view of the building, I bid adieu to Rashtrapathi Bhavan feeling highly patriotic.
Photo taken after asking permission 🙂
Photo taken after asking permission 🙂
Jaipur Column, inscribed with the following words
“In thought faith
In word wisdom
In deed courage
In life service
So may India be great.”
विजयी विश्व तिरंगा प्यारा, झंडा ऊँचा रहे हमारा।
May India be victorious, May our Flag always fly high in the sky
Details for Visiting Rasthrapathi Bhavan
- A quick tip from my side – plan the visit on a Saturday during the month of February or March so that you can watch the Change of Guards ceremony at the morning, then go for the guided tour followed by a visit to the museum, and finally visit fully bloomed flowers at Mughal Gardens. (I almost successfully executed this self-invented plan, but the heavy rains during Friday night played spoilsport; the Change of Guards ceremony got cancelled as the forecourt turned muddy)
- Keeping a notepad during the guided tour will help you note down all information 🙂
- Registration for the visit is a simple process. The instructions are straightforward.