Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Windsor Castle

The largest & the oldest occupied castle in the world, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor Castle is a must- visit if you are in London. Built over 900 years ago, the magnificence of the Castle both inside & out leave visitors with a sense of open-mouthed wonder. Take the long-walk entrance(below) to the Castle for the first brush with awe. 

Situated on the outskirts of London in the county of Berkshire, this medieval castle was home to a succession of monarchs since the time of Henry I. Comprising a motte with a Round Tower in the Middle ward(right), the St. George's Chapel in the Lower Ward (below) & The State Apartments in the Upper Ward(below right), The Windsor Castle is spread over a lavish expanse of over 13 acres. The Queen's favourite weekend home is kept at its best by the more than 500 people who live & work there.

                                                                                               Like all other places with a mata figure-head, you need a bulawa to be able to make it there. Check timings before you travel. March-October 09:45-17:15 (last admission 16:00); November-February 09:45-16:15 (last admission 15:00) ; Entire Castle Closed: 25-26 December; St Georges Chapel closed Sundays. Take the timing tip seriously, or you may end up clicking pics only from outside & come away determined to make a timely second visit! 

A sunny day makes your tour more pleasant, any day. The free audio-guided tour fills you with information/trivia as you walk around the Castle & its State Apartments. Photography & mobile phones are not allowed inside the premises. So you come away blinded by the splendour but can never describe it well enough to your family & friends. Don't try breaking rules & clicking pics inside, there is patrolling everywhere :) Enjoy the brightness outside in the park & shoot what you want you. There's no one stopping you there.

                                 That's St. George's Gate(top left); the focal point to fire guns(top right); South Wing of the Upper Ward(below). 

                                                                                                                  Henry VIII enjoyed Windsor Castle, as a young man "exercising himself daily in shooting, singing, dancing, wrestling, casting of the bar, playing at the recorders, flute, virginals, in setting of songs and making of ballads". 


The flow of foreign visitors to the Castle was captured for Elizabeth I's entertainment in William Shakespeare's play, The Merry Wives of Windsor. Currently, Windsor Castle is home to a special exhibition to celebrate Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee. There are over 60 photographs of Her Majesty The Queen to mark 60 years spent on the throne. A rare collection indeed. If the grandeur of the State Apartments gives you an unreal feel, the candid camera shots of the Queen capturing her various moods humanizes her touch-me-not persona.  
The Castle Gift Shop is replete with memorabilia you can buy as a mark of your visit. Look out for the special offers on certain items in here. They make for good takeaways.
                                                                            As you marvel at the Palace Guards match their steps with precision; have your hot chocolate in the Coffee Shop; remember to hand over your audio set before  you leave the Gothic structure & admire the can-can dresses of the charity girls, you cannot help but wonder why can't we capitalize on tourism in our own country.... 

Pic: Courtesy Wiki


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