The serene and picturesque Purana Quila provided the perfect backdrop to the spectacular Russian cultural festival that unfolded with all its magnificent components - orchestra, ballet and acrobatics - at the inauguration of the Year of Russia in India on Tuesday.
Cold winds were blowing through the evening but as the artistes, nearly 300 of them, came up on stage one by one and enthralled the audiences with their performances, the winter chill seemed to simply melt away.
Images of India's architectural marvels - the Taj Mahal, India Gate, the Charminar and Red Fort - appeared on the age old walls of the Purana Quila, thanks to a trick of special lighting on dancing fountains.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Russian counterpart Victor A. Zubkov jointly inaugurated the event.
Calling the festival a "milestone", Singh said that India-Russia ties were historic and based on solid foundations.
"Such a festival was held almost two decades back. Therefore this is a significant milestone which will leave an everlasting impression on the minds of people," Singh said.
The festival was thrown open with an energetic performance by a Russian folk choir that seemed like a burst of colour on the stage.
Dressed in bright dresses and varied hued scarves, women danced around, even as men juggled and walked on ladders nearby. And to portray that a piece of Russia was actually transported to India, they also created an impression of a light snowfall!
The performance that held everyone's breath was the ballet Swan Lake.
The ballerina, enacting an elegant bird, tip-toed in and moved around while flapping her hands gently, imitating the movement of wings. The sounds of the violin added to her flowing movement.
Also on show was a fashion theatre in which women in bright dresses and exotic headgear walked the stage with a female singer providing the perfect background score.
The acrobatics team jumped around, twisting their near-elastic bodies, while numerous dance troupes performed. The dancers, with their hip movements, gyrations and throwing off their shirts, would have given Bollywood dance troupes a run for their money!
After the concert, Manmohan Singh said there would be a string of other such cultural events from Russia in India after which, in 2009, India would take her creative arts to Russia.
"2009 will be the year of India in Russia. The best of the creative arts of both the countries will be showcased in 2008 and 2009," he said.
Russian Prime Minister Victor A. Zubkov said that India and Russia's friendship was not based on short-term expectations or political considerations but on common national priority and shared intellectual and spiritual attention.