Saturday, 22 December 2012

Rashtrapati Bhawan - Change of Guards Ceremony

Many in Delhi and India do not know about the weekly ceremonial Change of Guard that takes place at the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. The Change of Guard ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan is an old tradition which was first opened to the public in 2007.  Earlier the ceremony would take place on the road flanked by the North and South Block on the Raisina Hill leading to the Rashtrapati Bhawan. However, the current President of India deemed it fit to revamp the ceremony by not only adding an equestrian display but also relocated the ceremony to the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan where 200 common public is allowed access to the ceremony.

                  The Military Band of the Army Air Defence Centre getting ready for the ceremony

    The melodious tune of the national song '' Sare Jahan se achha Hindustan hamara..'' fills the air on dot at  
            10 am and the horse riders of President's Body Guards emerge from the tall Jaipur Column 

The horse riders - contingent of President's Body Guards troop in astride their majestic horses

The old contingent of Madras Regiment marches in for the Change of Guard ceremony

                       The two contingents of Madras Regiment getting ready to Change Guard 
          Public viewing the ceremonial Change of Guard at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan  
    Smartly attired and decorate jawans of the Madras Regiment
    The President's Body Guards astride their smart horses add pomp and color to the ceremony

    Equestrian Display by the horsemen of President's Body Guards

The President's Body Guards retreat after the equestrian display

   The equestrian display presents the horse and man in ceremonial regalia in harmony with the music of a 
   military brass band. The 30 minute ceremony commences with the President's Body Guard troops, astride 
   their caparisoned, sleekly muscled, powerful and well groomed steeds advancing from behind the Jaipur 
   column to the tune of 'Maa Tujhe Salaam' played by the Military Band of Army Air Defence Centre. The
   Army Guard contingent then marches in and the new guard replaces the old guard. Equestrian display 
   follows the change of guard. Soon after the horsemen ride away towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Playing
   of the National Anthem ends the ceremony.
  President's Body Guard is the senior most regiment of the Indian Army, raised in 1773. It is based in the 
 President's Estate. It is a Regiment with horses carrying out ceremonial duties for the President. The physical  
 standards for recruitment into this elite Regiment are very exacting, six feet being the minimum height for  
 enrolment. The horses also have to be more than 15.2 hands. The men carry both, a lance with a red and 
 white cavalry pennant and a Cavalry sabre. The horses are adorned with shabracks, throat ornaments and 
 white brow bands. The motto of the PBG is "Bharat Mata ki Jai".

The current army guard battallion is the Madras Regiment which was raised on 1758 and it was the most decorated Regiment of the Indian Army in pre-independence period. With a total on 45 honours and 9 Theatre honours, it has the most number of battle honours among all regiments of the Indian Army. The Regimental war cry is "Veer Madarassi Adi Kollu, Adi Kollu, Adi Kollu (meaning Brave Madrasi, Hit and Kill, Hit and Kill, Hit and Kill).

Where: Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi
Days: Saturdays (except on Gazetted Holidays which fall on Saturdays) 
                          15 Mar to 14 Aug -  08.00 AM to 08.40 AM
                          15 Aug to 14 Nov - 09.00 AM to 09.40 AM 

                          15 Nov to 14 Mar -10.00 AM to 10.40 AM 
Entry : Free from Gate no 2 (near South Block). Entry only against Photo Identity Card
Important : Only 200 common public is allowed entry. Cameras (still and video) and Mobile allowed.  
                  Mobile to be kept on silent mode    

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Delhi Potter''s Bazaar 2012

Delhi Blue Pottery Trust organized second edition of its Annual Potter's Bazaar on the lawns of charming Sanskriti Kendra at Anandgram, Delhi in the first week of December. Like the first edition, this year too the haat provided a platform to 40 odd studio potters to showcase their artistic creations to a large number of visitors. The event not only provided a wide spectrum of studio pottery on display and sale but also opportunity for the visitors to learn Raku firing technique. The occasion also marked formal inauguration of the second pottery center of Delhi Blue Trust in Delhi at Sanskriti Kendra. Their home base still runs from Delhi Blue near Safdarjung flyover.

Some of the finest practitioners of studio pottery had assembled here. Racha Prasher, Ranjana Subberwal, Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal, Reyaz Badruddin, Jugal Kishore Sankhyan from Andretta Pottery, Leena Batra, Mona Vohra,  Indu Rao, Sonia Dhingra, Shehla Grewal and Rajendra Dangle among others participated in the Bazaar.

The venue itself is worth more than one visit to enjoy its charming and rich presentation of traditional pottery craft from India, gallery of daily household objects and fabrics. Here are some visuals from the Haat.

    Bazaar banner under the giant banyan tree at Sanskriti Kenda welcoming visitors

    Exquisite range of Lal Mitti series pottery by Reyaz Badruddin, the young master studio 
    potter who is an established name in studio pottery in India. His range of wood fired and
    anagama pottery is pride of any collection.

     Wide range of functional as well as decorative pottery items in amazing glazes and slips.

    Pottery in all shapes, sizes, glaze and slips on display

    Rekha Bajpe Aghgarwal's collection of Raku pottery
    Young potters like Tamanna Singh also caught attention
    Spoilt for choice! It was difficult to choose from the vast range of pottery available and none were priced
    above Rs.4,000- It was intended to make studio pottery attractive and affordable.
    Funky range of functional Tea Pots created by Sadan Kumar Thakur
    Time for some serious shopping. This one looks right for me
Display of Reyaz Badruddin's counter
                                                Way to the Museum of Terracotta

    Another counter with some fine glazed functional potteryware
    Reyaz, the master potter enjoying the admiration of his creations

    Pottery ware displayed at Rachna Parasher's counter 

    And the master potter herself looking after her counter display - Rachna Parasher
Bagfull of studio pottery for my home!
                              Newly inaugurated Delhi Blue Ceramic Centre
     View of the Sanskriti Kendra
                          Fine Raku potteryware by Rekha Bajpe Aggarwal
                                      Display area
                Another view of Display area
    Terracotta man with camera and birds - Open air display at Sanskriti Kendra
      Another view of Sanskriti Kendra

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti - Apni Basti Mela

The annual community Mela (fair) organized at Hazrat Nizamuddin basti in New Delhi is a great initiative undertaken by Aga Khan Trust for Culture as part of their urban renewal project. The second edition of the mela truly represents and displays the rich cultural, architectural, culinary, musical, literary and craft heritage of the basti which goes back some 700 years in the past.
The poster of Apni Basti Mela 2012

    Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah is thronged by visitors from across the country in large numbers. The
    mausoleum complex also is the last resting place of Hazrat Nizamuddin's disciple and renowned sufi poet
    Amir Khusro.
   Exquisite art of Arabic Calligraphy on display at the Mela

   Local children participating in Educational games

    Mazaar of sufi poet Amir Khusru

    One of the famous poems of Mirza Ghalib inscribed on a plaque near his grave. It reads thus:

          "When nothing was, then God was there
            Had nothing been, God would have been;
            My being has defeated me
           Had I not been, what would have been"

    The master Kebab shop - Ghalib Kebab Corner, winner of kebab festival organised by Hotel Maurya
    Sheraton, serves mouth watering and succulent buff kebab served with mint chatni and shallots.
    Kebab's skewered on barbecue.
    Succulent Kebab's - mouth watering

   Last resting place of the greatest Urdu poet - Mirza Ghalib is located in the basti
    Stalls of Rose sellers are lined on both side of the alley leading to the Dargah entrance
    The Dargah courtyard.
    Humayun Tomb, the mausoleum of Mughal emperor Humayun is located in Nizamuddin. It is a UNESCO
    World Heritage site and has been painstakingly restored through generous efforts of the Agha Khan
    Trust for Cultural

The Mela thoughtfully conceptualized by a team of enterprising folks under the able stewardship of Ratish Nanda of Agha Khan Trust with generous collaboration of the Archaeological Department, Ministry of Culture, Govt of India and the residents of the basti very emphatically tells us that even a local community initiative in a mega city can be a destination for discerning traveler.
          The Mela ground wore a festive look

The 3 day mela this year aimed to encourage outsiders to participate and integrate with the basti residents in order to understand and respect the 700 year old living cultural heritage of the basti Nizamuddin. Heritage walks curated and led by the group of talented local youths, craft demonstrations - calligraphy, Sanjhi - the paper craft, embroidery and crochet work, wood crafts, perfumes, theatre, Qawwali and Dastangoi performance, cuisine and cooking classes by the local chefs were part of the fair. 
    Sanjhi - the paper cutting craft developed and practiced by the basti dwellers has generously borrowed 
    the motifs from the nearby Humayun's Tomb which now adorns note books, planners, greeting cards and 
    even lamps. 

The Niazi brothers performed during the concert of sufiana kalaam in the forecourt of the gem of a mausoleum - Chausath Khamba. On the last day the famed duo of Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain enthralled an eclectic audience with dastan-e-Chaubuli, a Rajasthani folk tale narrated in their classic style in the chaste Urdu. The audience could not have asked for a better finale for the Apni Basti Mela.  
   The magnificent backdrop of Chausath Khamba was the ideal stage for a performance of Dastangoi
    Mahmood Farooqui (right) and Danish Husain (left) performing Dastangoi 

Hazrat Nizamuddin basti can rightfully claim to be the cultural hub of New Delhi. It boosts of being the abode of Humayun Tomb, a UNESCO world Heritage site, mausoleum of the great sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin, the sufi poet Amir Khusru and the greatest Urdu poet of all times - Miraz Ghalib. The basti does not only dwell in the past but also has a beautifully laid out Sundar Nursery which is undergoing transformation under the Agha Khan Trust for Culture, once ready this would be the place for evening soirees and fine dining.    

This basti certainly has a bright future and could well become a prototype for future development of similar culturally rich zones in the city and the country.