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Parliament House

Apart from being the capital of India, Delhi is a fascinating city with pleasant contradictions. Comprising of Old Delhi and New Delhi, the city is home to famous tourist destinations like the Laxmi Narayan Temple, India Gate, Jama Masjid, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, and the vivacious shopping bazaar of Chandni Chowk. One such tourist attraction in Delhi is the Parliament House, the place where the Indian Parliament meets and the world's largest democracy functions.

Background

It was the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms of 1919 that gave birth to the Parliament House. Earlier called the Circular House, it was added to the layout at a later stage following the reforms which created a large Legislative Assembly. This is the reason for the Parliament House being also called Sansad Bhawan, which means a large Legislative Assembly.

A brainchild of Herbert Baker, this magnanimous structure was much criticized in comparison with Lutyens creations. In January 1931, an article by Robert Byron in Architectural Review describes it thus - "The Council Chamber has been Sir Herbert's unhappiest venture. Its effect from a distance has been described. It resembles a Spanish bull-ring, lying like a mill-wheel dropped accidentally on its side."

Description

The massive, spherical building of the Parliament House comprises of three semicircular chambers for the Legislatures and a Central Library crowned by a 27.4m high dome. The dome is 173m in diameter and covers 2.02 hectares in area, enclosed by a verandah with 144 columns. The three semi-circular areas were designed for the Chamber of Princes, the Council of State and the Legislative Assembly. Today they house the chambers of the Lok Sabha (House of the People), Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and the library. The boundary wall has blocks of sandstone carved in geometrical patterns that reflect the Mughal jalis.

Location and entrance

The Parliament House is situated on the northwest of Vijay Chowk, next to the Secretariat buildings at the end of the Parliament Street (Sansad Marg), New Delhi, India. Entrance to outsiders is not allowed without official permission, whether Parliament is in session or not. To obtain a visitor's pass to Sansad Bhawan, Indian nationals should apply to the Parliament Secretariat. Foreign nationals have to apply through their embassies or high commissions. Visitors can enter the public galleries of the Indian Parliament with prior permission, after receiving an official pass. To enter the library, an entry pass can be obtained from the Visitor's reception on Raisina Road by providing a letter of introduction from a Member of Parliament.

The Parliament House or Sansad Bhavan is the seat of the two houses of the Indian Legislature- the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and is therefore by default the most important administrative building in the country and of course in New Delhi. This circular building well known for its colonnade was built as a part of the New Delhi project undertaken by the British Government for its new capital. The parliament building was designed by Herbert Baker, who along with Edwin Lutyens was responsible for the architecture of the much of New Delhi, notably the state administrative buildings along Rajpath. The architecture of the Parliament house actually invoked much criticism among connoisseurs. An article by Robert Byron in Architectural Review, January 1931describes it thus: "The Council Chamber has been Sir Herbert’s unhappiest venture. Its effect from a distance has been described. It resembles a Spanish bull-ring, lying like a mill-wheel dropped accidentally on its side." However, this apparently faultily designed building that passes for the Indian Parliament House, is quite a feast for the layman’s eyes.

Architecture of Parliament House

The Parliament House is a huge circular, colonnaded building of sandstone located to the northwest of Vijay Chowk. The building comprises of three semicircular chambers for the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and a Central Library crowned by a 29.9m high dome over which now flaps the tri colors of the Indian flag. The three semi-circular chambers were originally designed for the Chamber of Princes, the Council of State and the Legislative Assembly. The building has a diameter of 170.69m and covers 2.02 hectares in area, with colonnaded verandahs lined with 144 identical columns each 8.23 m high enclosing the entire circumference.

The Central Hall, located at the centre of the circular Parliament House, is surrounded by three Chambers and three well laid-out courtyards with lush green lawns and fountains. Short passages radiating from three equidistant points on the circumference of the Hall connect the Lok Sabha Chamber, the Rajya Sabha Chamber and the earlier Library Hall. The entire Parliament House Estate is enclosed by an ornamental red sand stone wall with iron gates. 

Entry and photography inside the Parliament is free but prior to permission from relevant authorities.

Fast - Facts:

Introduction

The Parliament House or Sansad Bhavan is the seat of the two houses of the Indian Legislature- the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha and is therefore by default the most important administrative building in the country and of course in New Delhi. This circular building well known for its colonnade was built as a part of the New Delhi project undertaken by the British Government for its new capital. The parliament building was designed by Herbert Baker, who along with Edwin Lutyens was responsible for the architecture of the much of New Delhi, notably the state administrative buildings along Rajpath. Below is a list of Fast Facts on Parliament House for a smooth and convenient tour of the most important building in India.

Fast Facts on Parliament House

The Parliament House is located on the northwest of Vijay Chowk, next to the Secretariat buildings at the end of Parliament Street (Sansad Marg). Also Known as- Sansad Bhavan.

Entry-

Entry is free but subject to prior permission. One can visit the parliament irrespective of whether the houses are in session, with an official pass.

Permit-

Foreigners/Citizens: from their embassies or High commissions/ from the reception office on Raisina Road.

Mode of Transport -

Public buses, auto-richshaws, taxis or metro rail can be availed to reach North and South Block. Each of these, are easily and frequently available.

Nearest terminals-

The nearest rail station is New Delhi station, the nearest metro station is Central Secretariat and the nearest airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Nearest City Centre-

Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi is very near and is the hub of the best eateries, shops and markets.