Wednesday Mar 21, 2007

Up the Raisina Hill

Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) in New Delhi, is majestic and grand - a building fit for the President of a wast country. We entered through one of the side gates. Unprecedented Presidential security welcomed us! It is not open to public, entry is by invitation only.



There is a gradual ramp that raises to the main building. We got down the car near to reception which is on the left of the grand stairs.



Several guards in Ghoorka attire were guarding the main building. We got in, wrote our names in the visitor book, checked in our bags and gadgets at the cloak room. A tour guide in dark blue Nehru suit accompanied us on a guided tour of the various halls and Mughal Gardens.

We entered a corridor which on one end opened up to left wing courtyard. The courtyard had a water fountain guarded by two snakes on high pillars.

Next we entered the Marble hall, which houses relics of British rule in India, portraits and statues of Kings, Queens and Viceroys. Benches with four lions as its legs were impressive. Down stairs is the kitchen museum with exquisite crockery collection. I was impressed with the dining table which harmoniously blended through the architecture - circular arches, lotus curves and bells.

Next we climbed to the first floor towards a room that displayed gifts received by Indian Presidents over years. On the stairs in a plaster of Paris statue of thousand handed Buddha gifted by Thailand. The room displays valuable gifts not just made with gold and diamonds, but also quite ordinary looking but important things like a soiled Tricolor flag that was hoisted on top of Mt Everest when Tensingh and Hillary climbed it for the first time.

Then we entered the grand Durbar hall, immediately below the dome. On the stage stood ancient statue of Lord Budhdha, like the epicenter of ancient wisdom, modern thought - light of Asia. Behind the statue was an elaborate crimson curtain.

Next was the Banquet Hall with life size portraits of past Presidents. On one end of the hall was an impressive portrait of Mahatma Gandhi with kites flying behind him. Gandhi had a naughty smile :-). Out of the window you could peek down to Mughal gardens.

Ashoka Hall is the most beautiful hall in the building. On its ceiling is a large and amusing picture of Emperor of Iran hunting with his 28 sons. After Ashoka hall, we entered a courtyard, with an Edward Luytens' bust overlooked his own building. Lueytens apparently also designed almost everything inside, furniture, door handles and lamps. Most furniture designs, lamps, crockery and even door handles are beautiful and wish there were replicated and available commercially.

Finally we were in Mughal Gardens with stepped fountains. There were beautiful bonsais of various kind. A kind of tiny orange tree full of tiny oranges adorned the sides of walkways. That was the end of our journey through India's past and present. We then got our stuff and walked out of reception desk towards the main entrance to take pictures of the huge and majestic building. We walked on the same grounds where foreign heads of state receive guard of honor from armed forces.
I have seen this place on TV news countless times, never did I imagine I would take a casual afternoon walk there! From there the Jaipur Pillar stood high up, while the main gate was clouded in morning mist.




We then proceeded to exit from front gate. Encountered massive pillars with gracefully standing elephants over them. We then walked down the Raisina Hill past ministerial offices and pillars which had ships on top pointing to Australia.


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