At the heart of New Delhi is one of its most remarkable buildings, the Presidential Palace (Rashtrapati Bhavan). The 320-acre (130-hectare) complex comprises a palatial 340-room main building and sprawling Mughal gardens. Many visitors come to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, complete with horses and a brass band.
The palace was designed as a symbol of British colonial power and built in the early 20th century, after India’s capital was moved to Delhi from Calcutta. It became the president’s official residence shortly after independence. Until 2017, visitors were allowed inside only once or twice a year, though now the Bhavan is open to guests with prior registration. The Changing of the Guard is a regal affair worth witnessing.
Most half-day and full-day tours of Central Delhi at least stop for photos of the rectangular complex and its circular garden, and the Delhi hop-on hop-off bus allows for longer visits (which you book in advance).
Things to Know Before You Go
- To visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan, you must reserve a spot online in advance. See the palace’s website for details, and for the Changing of the Guard schedule.
- All visitors must bring a valid photo ID, such as a passport.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as the palace is large and requires a lot of walking.
How to Get There
Rashtrapati Bhavan is located on the western end of Rajpath Marg, right in the heart of the leafy Lutyens’ Delhi neighborhood, where most of the city’s colonial-era buildings are situated. Directly opposite India Gate, it’s about a 25-minute walk (or a 7-minute drive) southwest of Connaught Place. The nearest Delhi Metro stop is Central Secretariat, which connects to both the Yellow and Violet Lines.
When to Get There
You can visit the palace throughout the year by booking in advance. If you’re coming for the Changing of the Guard ceremony, held on Saturday and Sunday, you may want to opt for a morning visit when temperatures are cooler—particularly if you’re in Delhi in the sweltering premonsoon season (roughly May and June).
Who Lives in Rashtrapati Bhavan?
India uses the parliamentary system of government, with a prime minister (who lives in a considerably humbler abode on nearby Race Course Road) as head of government. The president of India, who has lived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan since independence from Britain, has less power and clout than the PM, but is still the head of state and commander of the Indian military.