Rashtrapati Bhawan to throw open doors for common man; Change of Guard to be on show!

Rashtrapati Bhawan will now host 200 public visitors every Saturday at its forecourt for witnessing the ceremonial `Change of Guard`.

New Delhi: Rashtrapati Bhawan will now host 200 public visitors every Saturday at its forecourt for witnessing the ceremonial `Change of Guard` conducted in precision by smartly dressed Armymen and caparisoned horses.

The ceremony which entails a series of military traditions, from bugles and bands to the horse-riding President`s Body Guards (PBG), will have a new look as the drill will be conducted in the backdrop of the majestic dome of the Presidential House, from the earlier North Block.

"We have decided to lift all restrictions with regard to the change of guard ceremony and about 200 people will be able to enter the forecourt lawns of the Rashtrapati Bhawan every Saturday. The changes have been made on the instructions of President Pranab Mukherjee who is very particular about the fact that this place should be open and accessible to the common man," the President`s Press Secretary Venu Rajamony told reporters during a preview drill here today.

During winters, the ceremony will start at 10 am every Saturday, he said.

Lasting about 30 minutes, visitors can witness PBGs emerging from behind the tall Jaipur column amid the brass band notes of AR Rehman composed `Maa Tujhe Salaam`.

The brass band will also play some of the best known patriotic songs like `Sare Jahan Se Achcha` with interludes of military tunes and the `Bharat Mata ki Jai` lalkaar (war cry) made by the troops.

As the new guard will take position alongside the old one, the audience will have moments to regale in this tradition which has been continuing since 2007 at the President`s Estate.

The retreat of the guards is completed with the National anthem being played by the Army band.

The elegant military drill, which will be conducted by specially chosen men from the 28 Madras battalion of the Army, also has a new feature in the form of equestrian display which showcases the rhythmic harmony of the powerful PBG horses with the band.

The clank of accoutrements, of both the smartly dressed men and ornamented horses, compiled with the thud of the horseshoe and the clear stomp of Napoleon boots makes the ceremony an audio-visual delight.

The `Change of Guard` is a military tradition where old sentries enable a contingent of new ones to take their duties swiftly.

The current PBG (28 Madras), which is based in the Rashtrapati Bhawan for a period of three years, has arrived here after completing its task at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. PBG accompanies the President every time he is out for his ceremonial duties.

Worldover, military contingents conduct the ceremony in their unique style and a number of domestic and international tourists throng the Raisina Hill to witness this splendid Indian drill every time it is showcased.