Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Budapest - The Parliament Building

One of the `must see’ sights in Budapest is the Parliament building. I looked at the map and figured out where it was and said we should visit it the following morning. But, HRH the Queen of Kutch had other ideas as she had done some research. She said that we must go INSIDE the Parliament building and go on a guided tour INSIDE. How could this be possible? Go INSIDE the Parliament Building? Do they not have security concerns? Do they not work inside? How could this be possible?

Very simple, all you do is log onto http://www.jegymester.hu/eng/Production/480000/Parliament-visit and buy your ticket. I was nearly speechless. How could it be so simple? Hungary is a fully functional country not a banana republic. Buying tickets online without any security, going inside the Parliament Building on a tour. It all seemed so farfetched to me.

I thought if this could happen in Hungary which was Communist for 40 years till 1989 and we in Bharat India are the world’s largest Democracy, we must be able to go inside the Lok Sabha too. Just read the Preamble to our Constitution. It tells us that we in India have resolved to constitute India as a:

Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:
Justice, social, economic and political;
Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and of opportunity;

So I was sure being equal we could go to the Lok Sabha and visit it.

But my dear friends the answer is no. You cannot go to visit the Lok Sabha unless you are invited by a Member of Parliament. We have three pages of rules on how to do this. And I can bet you that in reality the Rules are totally incorrect and the position on the ground is different and more complex. Don’t believe me? here, read the Rules on how to visit the Lok Sabha. 

We simply logged on to the site and bought our tickets with our Indian credit cards. Took a print of the ticket and we were on the 10 am English tour. How utterly simple.

The two tickets we bought online.

The construction of the Parliament Building in Budapest started at the end of the 19th Century and was completed in 1904. The building was inspired by the English Parliament building. 

The Parliament Building

The Parliament Building by night

The building across the Parliament

For the beauty of the Parliament, here is an ugly Communist Regime official building right opposite.

The building was severely damaged during the Allied bombing in WWII. 40% of the building was destroyed. After the war the damaged potion was reconstructed using the original plans. Outside the building is really impressive Inside the building has a lot of real gold, lots of beautiful chandeliers. Extremely ornate very well preserved and beautiful. We even got to see the actual Well of the House.

The Well of the House

It is the tallest building in Budapest 96 meters high. 96 has a lot of significance for Hungarians. The country was formed in 896 and the building was inaugurated in 1896. So inside the building the main doorway has 96 steps leading up.

96 steps

One particularly charming aspect was the provision of numbered cigar holders. In the old days members could smoke their cigars in the building but not in the actual House. So if there was an interesting topic being discussed in the House, the member left his cigar outside in the numbered cigar holder so he could retrieve it after the discussion. On occasion when the whole cigar burned away, the discussion was regarded as being worth a Havana.

The tour runs for about 45 minutes and is conducted in several languages, each separate thank God. Tours are in English, German, Russian, Italian and Spanish.

An extremely refreshing attitude to allowing visitors to Parliament.

When will Bharat ever get close?

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