The much-awaited second phase of a museum at the Rashtrapati Bhavan is ready to welcome visitors. Now, the legacy of Indian Presidents and chapters of the freedom struggle can be seen under one roof. What’s more? There will be a glimpse of how the planet’s second-largest presidential estate works.
Built at a cost of Rs 80 crore and in 19 months, it will be the country’s only underground museum, and boast of state-of-the-art virtual reality exhibitions. A small section of the museum was opened a year ago. The completed museum will open to visitors on October 2.
“We tried to re-create the history and capture some of the important events. We showcase the gifts received by Presidents over the years and also the daily life in (the) Rashtrapati Bhavan, among other things,” said Omita Paul, the President’s secretary.
The new museum, built under the supervision of museologist Saroj Ghose, who is an advisor to the President, will showcase more than 2,000 artifacts in a sprawling 1.30 lakh sq.ft space. It will also exhibit, for the first time, rare paintings from the British era.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the museum on Monday, as Mukherjee completes four years in office.
“Unlike other Indian museums, where unconnected artifacts are displayed, this will be an event-based storytelling museum,” said Ghose.
Visitors can book a tour through the Rashtrapati Bhavan website.
Here are the 10 key things to know about the new jewel in Delhi’s crown:
1. Gandhi walk: Stand in a room and see Mahatma Gandhi talking to Lord Irwin on screen. And then, when he walks out of the Rashtrapati Bhavan — then Viceroy’s House — you can join him in virtual reality. Feel free to click pictures, wave hands and do a namaskar.
2. Hand shadow show: If you want to know how a President is elected, all you need to do is watch this hand shadow show with a running commentary. It will tell you about the election process, the Parliament building, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Indian villages and the Pillars of Ashoka through the movement of hands.
3. The Study of the President: A replica of the room where the President meets the visitors in his office.
4. Privalite projection: It appears to be a simple, see-through glass. But when the projector beams a live video, it becomes a TV telecasting daily news. Viewers can go behind the screen and continue to watch the show.
5. Meet the President: Never met the country’s first citizen? No worries. Go to this small cubicle and press a button. On the large screen, a photo will appear where the visitor and the President will be talking to each other.
6. Personal belongings: The museum showcases, in separate windows, personal belongings of all 13 Presidents, giving a glimpse of their choice of clothes, habits and lifestyle.
7. Live speech in 3D holographic projection: A special square-shaped box beams 3D holographic images to accompany, one after another, speeches of Indian Presidents. Stand anywhere and see them delivering their speeches, as if in real life.
8.Gifts counter: A floor full of exotic gifts that Presidents received from different parts of the world is a key attraction.
9.Interactive digital platform: See rare photographs of the President’s house and the freedom movement. The pieces of history will be lying on a table. Twist them, turn them and visit the past.
10. President’s vehicles: An old presidential buggy drawn by a life-size horse. Near it, one can find a merc gifted to late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by the King of Jordan. Gandhi handed over the car to the Rashtrapati Bhavan toshakhana.