From the title you may think how lucky I am or honored to get a day in Rastrapati Bhawan. Don’t think too fast It is just a common man’s visit to the den of India’s 1st Citizen. You may consider it is not Ghumakkari, but I like to share this on Ghumakkar since it may turn out to be a great part of someone’s travel to Delhi. An exciting news appeared in Hindustan Times in mid-January 2014 (sorry, forgot the date) that the Rastrapati Bhawan is open for public visit. I read the news again, and wondered if it was for the Mughal Gardens or the main building; because Mughal Gardens are normally open for public every year in February-March. No, it was about the main building. The very next Saturday, we reached Rastrapati Bhawan without checking or doing a Google search on the visiting formalities. The security posted in front of gate no 3 (Raisana Hills, Rajpath), told us that the Bhawan is open for public but you have to do an online registration and bring the approval pass to visit. That day we returned but gathered all the necessary information to visit. We had done all necessary online process for visiting on 1st Feb, 2014. After 3 days of online registration, we got an SMS and mail from Rastrapati Bhawan, accepting our application for visit on the said date.
It was a foggy Saturday morning, we again reached gate no 3 and the police allowed us to enter with our car to the parking through gate no 2. The security officer directed us where to go, to the reception. As we entered the compound… just one word came to the mind.. WOW
We told ourselves that this is the place where every high profile visitor gets the guard of honor. We reached the entrance reception, which was a tiny gate near the main building. A beautifully managed reception welcomed us. There were a small souvenir and snack shop along with the reception. You can utilize your waiting time munching something or buying some souvenirs of your visit. After scanning our ID proof, they took a group photo of us and generated a pass, which was handed over to the guide. Beyond the reception area, you aren’t allowed to take any camera or mobile. You can deposit the same in the security check. We, a group of around 30 people of the scheduled time gathered outside after the security check and a guide and a protocol officer welcomed us, gave brief description regarding a 45-minute guided tour and requested us not to get separated from the group. Considering the high security zone, any intruding attempt of guest can be take them jail without any excuse. All visitors had followed the guide’s advise. Our journey started with the CHILDREN’S GALLERY, where lots of scientific facts and photographs were displayed. Children can see and feel the models and read massages by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (the gallery is an initiative of Dr. Kalam). After spending some time in Children’s gallery, we moved to the MARBLE HALL. The hall is named after a big single piece of Marble, once used as a table. In the marble hall, they had displayed some antique paintings of the British royals, which had been retouched to preserve. A mixed metal Chair of King George V was kept there. The chair weighed around 800KG and was an awesome work of craft by an Indian artist. Recently a wax statue of our Hon’ble President has been installed. Now it was time to move towards the KITCHEN MUSEUM, where lots of Kitchen equipment, crockery, cutlery and dining tables were on display. Those utensils were used before India got independent. Our guide told us lots of stories about Rastrapati Bhawan. Told us story about its construction, lifestyle, history, etc. While following the guide’s stories, we reached the 2nd floor. You can’t feel that you have climbed to 2nd floor. Rastrapati Bhawan has 4 floors. The next was the LONG DRAWING ROOM and the NORTH DRAWING ROOM. In the North drawing room, the floor is revolving and roof is an awesome example of art. You have to capture all those beauty in your eyes, no option to save it in the camera.
After visiting LOGGIA AND BANQUET HALL, our guide told us that, all the guest who came to Rastrapati Bhawan were served food there. There was a long dining table and crafted wood chairs, which have remained intact since their construction. We next headed towards the Library. It’s a personal library for our Hon’ble president. There were lots of old books available to read (we aren’t that fortunate). From the window of the Library, you can see a clear view of India Gate.
Feeling happy with the library, it was time to amaze. This is the location where all the functions (India’s prestigious award given to its citizen) take place. This place is called the Darbar Hall, the celebration hall of the Rastrapati Bhawan. The hall was situated just below the Gombuz (Doom), which we see from the long distance. The guide told us about our tricolor flag flyng on Rastrapati Bhawan. If flag is fully open it means the President is present at the house. If the flag is not flowing, means our president is currently not in India/house. If it is half down, it is to project the demise of someone important. We then moved to Gift gallery. In Gift gallery they had kept and displayed the gifts that had been presented to our hon’ble president, by other countries or Indian states. Some awesome and eye catching artifacts. It felt very good that our Presidents didn’t take those with them after their tenure. Finally, our visit to the beautiful architecture of Lutyen’s Delhi, was ending, but our journey didn’t end. We came out from the building and moved towards the Mughal Garden. We had visited the same many times, when it opened to the public. But this time the experience was awesome, because there was no crowd, no noise, just feel the smell and beauty of the open garden. How lucky is our President, he can enjoy the song of birds, take a breath with flowers….. We went back again to the reception to collect our bags and camera. They allowed us to take photos outside the building, wherever you want, no restriction and we had a long photo-session.
Some info for visiting Rastrapati Bhawan,
Please refer to the link below:
Fill up the online form with your details along with photo identity proof details (Passport/Adhaar/PAN etc. – List available on site). Pay Rs.25 per person and checkout. You will get a confirmatory mail with the visiting pass within 3 days. Anyone who has a plan trip to Delhi can use this opportunity. I bet you will leave with a feeling of pride after visiting this awesome architecture of modern India.