President Pranab Mukherjee brought his 10-day southern sojourn to an end on the 30th of December. This annual ritual is reminiscent of the days when kings and emperors ruled. Hyderabad is where Presidents of the Indian Union pitch camp on their tour of South India. Reminding citizens of the pomp and glory of the Republic. Pranab Da did not while his time away inside Rashtrapati Nilayam, Bolarum. As is expected of a powerful Head of State, he met Chief Ministers (Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh & K Chandrasekhar Rao of Telangana), flew around the peninsula (to Karnataka and Kerala) and graced events with his august presence (prayers at the Tirumala Tirupati Temple & the convocation of the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering).

With the Presidential Retreat over and the New Year in, the people of Hyderabad are free to revert to their normal selves. The President dropping by is no laughing matter. Especially for a city renowned for its easy-going ways. Before His Excellency could troop in, the authorities had to clean roads, paint walls, trim hedges and take out the trash. Even when he was around, they had to manage the notoriously chaotic Hyderabadi traffic. With him gone, both the sarkar and the janata can breathe easy. But his evacuation of Rashtrapati Nilayam provides another bonus. One in which the public is more interested than his daily routine as an exalted guest.

I am talking about the prize winning gardens of the presidential abode. Rashtrapati Nilayam was constructed way back in 1860 under the watchful eye of the seventh Nizam, Nasir-ud-dawlah Asaf Jah IV. It would be taken over by the British Resident to the Princely State of Hyderabad (hence, its name, Residency House). From the British, it went to the Indian Union. Spread over 90 acres, it has elegant Dining, Cinema and Darbar Halls. It boasts of additional attractions now, botanical ones in particular. The gardens, like the halls proclaim the greatness of the Indian state. There are water channels, aromatic herbs, flowering plants and fruit bearing trees. There is a Jai Hind Ramp to dispel any doubts with regard to their patriotic character. They will be open to the public from the 3rd to the 10th of January (entry hours from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm) this year.

Image Attribution: The image above is sourced from Wikimedia Commons and credited to Lala Deen Dayal.