'Changing of the Guard' is a military tradition whose origins are lost in antiquity. From time immemorial, guards and sentries at Forts, Palaces and Defence Establishments change periodically to enable a fresh body of soldiers take charge.
Come Saturday and the Forecourt of the grand Rashtrapati Bhavan- the official residence of the President since Independence, resounds to the hoof beats of horses and the tune of soul-lifting music. Every Saturday, it's time for the Ceremonial Changing of the Guard - a traditional ceremony in which Infantry Army Guards and the President's Bodyguard, in spectacular red, riding well - bred horses, change guard with clock-work precision, demonstrating time honoured military ethos and discipline of both animal and man. This tradition of Ceremonial Changing of Guard dates back to the raising of the President's Bodyguards with 50 handpicked Horsemen in 1773, then called 'The Guards of Moguls'.
The 40-minute Ceremony includes inspection of the New Guard, nomination of sentries, a formal march to take post and an exchange of compliments by the Guards. A formal military ritual, the Ceremony is a coming together of smartly-attired soldiers of the impressive Army Guard and statuesque President's Bodyguard Troopers, astride their caparisoned, sleekly muscled, powerful and exquisitely groomed steeds. The regal bearing and hard training of the noble mounts of the President's Bodyguard, greatly enhanced by their superb ceremonial equipage, heavily embroidered saddle cloths, ceremonial bridles and bits, lend a regal dignity and spectacle of incomparable colour and pageantry at this Ceremonial Parade. A zestful Band and the impressive arrival and dispersal of the guard, makes the Ceremony an unforgettable spectacle.
The New Guard marches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the Dominion Columns lining the two wings of the Central Secretariat in perfect military tandem. After inspection, Officers of the guards take salute, and march past smartly. Upon entering the driveway, just inside the Iron Gate of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the New Guard takes position alongside the Old Guard for formal salutation. After exchanging salutes, the sentries of the Old Guard hand-over the keys to the New Guard. Sentries of the New Guard on duty take post and the remainder troops march off to the tune of "Saare Jahan Se Achcha".