Rashtrapati Nilayam is thrown open to the public. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it today, says Prabalka M. Borah

The usually deserted junction from Nartaki theatre on the way to Alwal (from Trimulgherry) or from Ammuguda towards Alwal is buzzing with people waiting for buses. Some are walking, unwilling to wait while a few others are sitting on the footpath munching the ‘mixture’ from roadside vendors. It’s a picnic day for the crowd gathered there to visit the Rashtrapati Nilayam which has been thrown open for public from Sunday. As one enters the gate of the Rashtrapati Nilayam at Bolarum, it’s the shade from the various tall trees that greet you. The driveway from the gate to the main building is a good half kilometre walk and the shade makes it pleasant even on a sunny afternoon. The silence of the vast area is occasionally disturbed by screeching parrots that keep flying from one tree top to another, or the hooting of birds.

On the left is the Sapota plantation that leads visitors to the main building. Inside the building, the powdered red gravel flooring of the compound is in contrast to the absolute white building of the Nilayam built in British architecture.

The different rooms are identified on paper printouts stuck to wall outside each room for visitors’ convenience. The first room is the President’s morning sitting room with a study and dressing cum bed room on either side.

Inside prim and proper rooms, you can see ceiling fans hanging from the tall roof, old fashioned sofas and other seating arrangements in leather or faux leather. Apparently the President has morning tea with a newspaper either here or in the garden adjacent to the building. Well manicured and shaded with tall trees, the garden is pleasing to the eye with two rows of different flowers bordering the garden. But the first citizen of the country need not walk on the grounds to reach another part of the buildinghe can go through a tunnel which connects the main building to one which houses the garden.

In fact Rashtrapati Nilayam has several gardens and vast open lands where fruits of various kinds are cultivated .

A long winding walk through the outer borders of the walkway leads visitors to other distant areas of the place. The entire jungle area has been cleared of forest and wild grass, so there is no fear of snakes hiding. The long way around the Nilayam leads to a traditional irrigation ramp with flower and adjacent to it is the award winning herbal garden which houses several species of plants used in traditional treatment of various ailments including leprosy and leukaemia. Rashtrapati Nilayam is open to visitors till January 12.

To enjoy the visit better…

* The security team needs to be more active. The women security personal do not bother to check bags and remain hooked to their cell phones.

* Visitors need to teach their children some etiquette about plucking flowers, handling things which are not theirs.

* Grown-ups were seen pulling the tendrils of the orchid near the darbar hall. Clearly not aware of these delicate wild flowers, they wondered why a non-flowering climber was allowed to grow.

* Plastic bottles were left here and there by visitors.

* The team of young volunteers was pretty lax. They were hardly involved in warning visitors about pulling and plucking flowers.

The gardeners were more alert and strict about visitors crossing their limits.

They are also helpful, guiding people to various places in and around the Nilayam.

* Water is provided at the gate so carrying bottles is not required.

* The gardens and the green patches shouldn’t turn into a picnic spot for visitors. Or there should be a designated place for people to sit and rest after the visit. Right now, a mini-canteen selling aerated drinks and small snacks have been set up.