Twenty fanatics from among the many travel enthusiasts in DK recently braved the sweltering Delhi heat to visit Rashtrapati Bhavan – the official residence of the President of India. Arriving well in time to avoid any administrative hassles at the highest security zone of the country, the gang deposited their mobiles at the reception and entered the premises accompanied by a not-so-young, but very energetic tour guide.
The first room that we set foot in was the Science and Innovation Museum (aka Navachara Kaksh ) – a small room that housed some amazing innovations. Particularly fascinating were a string-less keyboard and a virtual table, both of which sense hand movements and can be played without actually touching the instrument! They call it the “Room of New Ideas”, much in line with DK's branding “A World of New Ideas”! Mounted on the wall in the same room was the smallest 3D-selfie camera we tried our hands on and failed miserably, so we decided to continue with the tour.
The tour guide took us back in time as he narrated the history of the building. Standing in the Durbar Hall, the room where Lord Mountbatten announced India's independence at midnight of 14–15 August 1947 was enough to strengthen a feeling of national pride in our hearts.
The Durbar Hall is the centre-most of the 340 rooms in Rashtrapati Bhavan. It's roofed by the iconic dome that is visible from miles afar. The guide told us that a line running from India Gate to the Durbar Hall would divide Rashtrapati Bhavan into two equal parts – the North Block and the South Block.
Right outside the Durbar Hall is situated a bust of Sir EdwinLutyens, the architect who designed this Presidential Residence that speaks volumes of the grandeur of Indian and British architecture.
The most magnificent room of all was the Ashoka Hall, which was the State Ball Room during Raj. Until recently, it was used for important ceremonies such as swearing in of the Presidents, and for notable award distribution ceremonies. The hall is artfully designed and decorated with beautiful canvas paintings on the roof with Persian poetry calligraphed on the outer borders.
We ended our tour at the Mughal Gardens, well known for their spectacular rose blossoms and a variety of flowers that are open for public visits in February. Though the gardens were being replanted, we were able to admire the beautiful Mughal landscaping.
And did I mention we spotted a DK book in the Presidential Library? Yay! Unfortunately we did not have our cameras to capture the sight of a familiar book sitting on the bookshelf in one of the most prestigious buildings of India.