About Rashtrapati Bhavan
Home to the President of the world’s largest democracy, Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi stands as a symbol of national strength. The nation’s most important democratic functions like the swearing-in ceremony of its elected leaders are carried out in these very grounds.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan has been witness to honour giving ceremonies of the country’s bravehearts and achievers, signing of historic pacts between India and other nations, of India’s independence and republic day ceremonies, and the hosting of many world leaders.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan is a true architectural masterpiece in its own right. The magnificent building spreads across 320 acres, including the splendid ‘Mughal Garden’ and the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum. The design of the Rashtrapati Bhavan mainly imparts the Mughal architectural styles blended with classical and grand European signatures, credited to the British architects- Edwin Lutyen and Hebert Baker.
The building is also diversified with a number of other typically Indian motifs such as ornate Elephant statues on the outer wall or the main gate of the building with the ‘Jaipur column’. All in all, it is quite a visual treat to behold!
The building is open to visitors by three different segments or tour circuits. The first circuit comprises of the Main building and the Central Lawn. The second circuit houses the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Complex. In the same circuit, you can get a tour of the Clock Tower, the Stables, and the Garages.
The third circuit has the magnificent Mughal Garden and other ancillary gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Tourists can request a trip of each of the circuits separately on the days assigned for each segment respectively for daytime visits from 9 AM to 4 PM.
There is much to take in and marvel at around the complex-- the intricate craftsmanship of carved marble statues, the sprawling Mughal Gardens featuring masterful landscaping concepts, the Clock Tower, and a myriad of presidential mementos preserved inside the Museum. Upon exit, you can explore the premier surroundings of this important historical site, often called as the ‘Lutyens Delhi’.
How to Reach Rashtrapati Bhavan
By Metro: the nearest metro station to the Rashtrapati Bhavan is Central Secretariat on the Yellow Line. From the metro, you can take a cab or auto to the destination. Take the subway train from IGI Airport station to New Delhi by Airport Express. From New Delhi, take the Delhi Metro subway train on the yellow line to the Central Secretariat station.
By Bus: You can find hourly buses from the Airport Terminal 2 to Rail Bhawan Metro Station, from there, the Rashtrapati Bhavan is a few minutes walk away.
By Cab: Most of the popular call-a-cab services in India are available from Delhi Airport. You can hire a cab from Delhi Airport to reach Rashtrapati Bhavan in near about 40 minutes.
Best Time to Visit Rashtrapati Bhavan
February and March are the best months to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan. During these months, the nip in the air typical to Delhi winters is less intense, while the sky remains crystal clear. It is also a vibrant blooming season for late winter roses, dahlias, chrysanthemums, lilies and others cultivated in the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens.
Only during February and March, you will find the magnificent Mughal Garden open to visitors.This is also the time when most species of the vibrant Rashtrapati Bhavan garden flowers come to bloom and the only period when the Mughal Garden and other gardens remain open to visitors.
What Not to Miss at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Places to Visit Near Rashtrapati Bhavan
1. Parliament House: One of the another impressive buildings in New Delhi, the Parliament House is located at the end of Sansad Marg, at a 4-minute walking distance from Rashtrapati Bhavan. The building is open for visitors from 11 am to 5 pm on the days the parliament is not in session. The museum preserving items related to the ‘Democratic Heritage of India’, remains closed on Sundays and Mondays.
2. Akshara Theatre: Watch critically acclaimed plays at Akshara Theatre, located 6 minutes away by a drive from Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can get tickets for evening shows online and catch them after your tour of the presidential residence.
3. Nehru Planetarium: One of the five planetariums named after the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, this Museum and Library are built inside the Teen Murti Bhavan. This building was the residence of the late Prime Minister Nehru which has now been converted into a museum.
The most popular attraction of the place is the Sky Theatre- a dome-shaped ceilinged hall where information on planets, constellations, and stars are displayed in a theatre display format with the help of multimedia and special effects. The space museum also houses the Soyuz T-10, used by Rakesh Sharma- the first Indian cosmonaut to go into space!
4. Dandi March Statue: The Dandi March statue or the Gyan Murti statue has been erected at the T-junction at Sardar Patel Marg close to the President’s Estate to commemorate the historical event of Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi March. With its display of masterful craftsmanship, immortalizing the historical moment in time, the Gyan Murthi statue of eleven people on the march will keep you wonderstruck.
5. Jantar Mantar: Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, Jantar Mantar is a space observatory of the 1720s. There are thirteen astronomy instruments for tracking the movements of the sun. This historical site located on Parliament Street is best visited during the morning and evening hours.
Things to See In Rashtrapati Bhavan
1. The Museum houses an archaic presidential buggy and an old Mercedes car that had been gifted to the president Rajiv Gandhi by the King of Jordan.
2. Discover a rare archive of photographs of the presidential home moments captured of the personal struggle of many, during the historical freedom movement of India.
3. The President’s collection of gifts received from foreign delegates and rulers from different places across the globe.
4. Skim through the personal items of the past presidents of the country, from the musical instruments they played to the kind of clothing they used.
5. Watch 3D hologram videos of the country’s leaders, giving you a sense of joining Mahatma Gandhi in virtual reality as he takes a walk with Lord Irwin!
6. Walk in the 15 acres Mughal Garden amidst the flowers in late winter, designed and landscaped in the inspiration of the garden of the Taj Mahal and the Mughal Gardens in Kashmir. You will see roses, Asiatic lilies, tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and a treasure of seasonal flowers in this paradisiacal garden.
7. There is also a brilliantly kept bonsai garden and stretches of cultivation for vegetables, legumes, and other food sources.
8. Take an elaborate tour of the different interesting sections of the gardens, namely-- the musical garden section, Biofuel Park, Spiritual and Nutrition garden, Tactile Garden for the visually handicapped, terrace gardens to the north and south end, and other parts.
9. Magnificent fountains rising up to a height of 12 feet adorn the garden spectacularly. Wooden trays for bird feeders are placed atop the fountain stands in the midst of the serenely flowing fountain water, here you can watch for birds.
10. Fall in awe with the great halls housed inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan-- the Durbar Hall, Ashoka Hall, Marble Hall, North Drawing Room, and Nalanda Suite. Elegantly decorated and accented with striking chandeliers, the Durbar Hall bears testimony to the historic moment of the swearing in of Independent India’s first government!
Other Essential Information About Rashtrapati Bhavan
Location: The Rashtrapati Bhavan is located at the western end of the Rajpath in New Delhi, from where you can see the India Gate to the opposite side.
Timings: This site has different visiting times for the three separate segments or tour circuits inside the complex:
Circuit 1: Tour the Main Building and Central Lawn on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Circuit 2: Take a tour of the Museum Complex including the Clock Tower and the President’s Garages on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9 AM to 4 PM.
Circuit 3: Roam around the Mughal Garden and other ancillary Gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the months of December, January, and February on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9 AM t 4 PM.
History of Rashtrapati Bhavan
In the year 1911, the capital of India was shifted from Kolkata to New Delhi. This is when the construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan had been planned as the residence of the British viceroy in pre-independent India. The blueprint of the grand mansion that is to serve as the viceroy’s residence, demanded an allocation of 4000 acres of land.
The British architect Edwin Landseer Lutyen was then commissioned to oversee the project. Lutyen initially sketched out a design that was grandly classical, featuring a myriad of motifs from Indian art and architecture. He was also initially working in collaboration with another British architect of note by the name of Herbert Baker.
The two had several disagreements regarding the plan, especially about the height of the Viceroy’s house. Post-construction, Lutyen rallied to extend the incline grade in the outward stretch of the Viceroy’s house, so the imposing structure could be in view from far away. However, the Imperial Delhi committee had canceled Lutyens proposal for the alteration, making Mr. Lutyens apprehensions come true as the sloping approach from the east obscure the lower part of the building when seen from a distance.
The renowned architect also had to compromise the total area of the building from the initial plan as the erstwhile viceroy and governor-general to India Lord- Hardinge had put a budget restriction on the building plan.As on the part of Lutyen, he was not known to be a fan of the local building tradition of India and meant to construct the viceroy’s house entirely according to European styles if the decision was only for him to take.
Facts about Rashtrapati Bhavan
1. The grand mansion of Rashtrapati Bhavan is one of the largest residences to have housed any head of state in the world. The imposing structure and vast area of the complex only come next to the Quirinal Palace in Rome, Italy.
2. The completion of the building took 17 long years, engaging about 29,000 builders to work on its construction. The groundwork on the original building plan had started in 1912 while the entire construction and landscaping was concluded in the year 1929.
3. The mansion houses more than 300 rooms, including the office of the president, various guest suites, and staff quarters.
4. The Rashtrapati Bhavan staff unit has a strength of 750 officials, about 245 people of this team are engaged in the President’s Secretariat.
5. The mansion is erected on the Raisina Hill and adjoining plateau. Before it’s construction, at this location two villages existed, namely- Raisina and Malcha. The residents were rehabilitated when the construction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was underway.
6. In pre-Independent India, the mansion was officially known as the Viceroy’s House. It is deemed to be the largest residence in India.
7. During the month of February, ‘Udyanotsav’- meaning, ‘the garden festival’ is held inside these grounds when the enclosing Mughal Garden is opened to visitors.
8. At the back of the Durbar Hall, an ancient statue of Gautama Buddha- a relic from the golden era of Indian art during the Gupta Age, stands in all glory.
9. The majestic Banquet Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan can accommodate up to 104 guests. There are hidden galleries inside the hall for musicians to play from when a banquet is underway.
The Architecture of Rashtrapati Bhavan
The neo-classical architecture of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is supremely awe-inspiring, as it also blends in several marked features of Indian and Mughal signatures. The size of the mansion itself is imposing, consisting of four floors with 340 rooms, spanning across a floor area of 200,000 sq ft. The architectural style is identified with the time period of the Edwardian Baroque.
Typically, you will find many features underlining imperial authority and power. Owing to the prime architect- Lutyens dislike for Indian styles, most of the Indian signatures found in this building are only surface-level and decoration. Many of the Indian elements were also added much, much later after the construction, such as the several circular basins with water features on top of the building.
Rajasthani-inspired elements in the mansion include the ‘jalis’ or perforated screens. Gujarati, Punjabi, and Rajasthani stylistic influence are reflected in the overhanging eaves known as ‘chhajja’ or ‘chujja’. ‘Chhatri’, meaning canopy-- the dome-shaped pavilions typically used in Indian Architecture, are also to be found in plenty inside the building complex.
Interestingly, Lutyen incorporated a number of personal touches to the mansion. A part of the stateroom outer wall visible from the garden shows two adjacent ventilator glasses which are made to look like the spectacles Mr. Lutyen used to wear himself! One of them is an area in the garden where the wall of the adjacent stateroom building has two ventilator glasses, which are made to look like the glasses he himself used to wear!
Tips for Visiting Rashtrapati Bhavan
1. Request permission to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan from there official website well beforehand, about 60 days in advance.
2. On gazetted holidays, all three circuits of the Rashtrapati Bhavan remain out of bounds.
3. If you wish to visit the Central Lawns by Circuit 1 along with the Mughal Garden and other gardens falling on the Circuit 3, you can drive inside the Rashtrapati Bhavan complex and park inside. If you are looking to avail a tour of Circuit 2- the Museum, check in at the car park near gate 30 (near to the Mother Teresa Crescent Road, Talkatora Stadium).
4. Carry valid photo ID cards if you are an Indian citizen.
5. Foreigners must make a request online along with photocopies of their passports and carry the original on the day of their visit.
6. Registration fees per person payable online is Rs. 50. Visitors in a group of 30 will be charged Rs. 1200. If the group has more than 30 people, extra persons will be charged Rs. 50 each.
7. Children below the age of 8 are exempted from registration fees.
8. You catch a bite to eat from Cafe Coffee Day and Subway outlets inside the museum complex.