Dilwale in Sofia, Bulgaria: The Lions Bridge

While Dilwale was being filmed in Bulgaria this summer at some point it was rumored that Rohit Shety and team will try to recreate the train romantic scene from the original Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, but this time in a tram in Sofia.

And it was to take place on the Lions Bridge in the capital of Bulgaria.

Dilwale in Sofia

So where is this Lions bridge and what is it famous for?

The Lions bridge was built in Sofia out of stone at the end of the 19th century (1889-1891) by the Czech architect Václav Prošek. It is one of the most beautiful bridges in Sofia and it runs over the Vladayska river. There was another bridge before this one, which was called the Colorful bridge, being make of different colors stone and which had tree arches. The Lions bridge connects the cente of Sofia with the Central Railway Station and marks the northern border of the city center. The name of the bridge comes from the four bronze lion sculptures guarding each of the four directions of the bridge.

Dilwale in Sofia

The Lions bridge has been refurbished in the beginning of 2015, allowing for the heavy traffic to go under the bridge and now it is only the tram and pedestrians who cross it over. The green space and mini garden have been created on it, making it an attractive location to take a stroll and who knows …. Kajol might step down from the next tram.

You can see glimpses of the Lions Bridge in the Janam Janam song from Dilwale, which just released:

But the Lions Bridge became the backdrop not only to the romantic scenes in Dilwale. Some of the most important stunts were also shot here. And here is a tribute to all the stuntmen from Shah Rukh Khan:

In this video you can see the stunts shot on the Lions Bridge from 5:40 min onwards.

So if you are in Sofia and would like to live it as if in a Bollywood movie, here is what you can do. After you walk down Vitosha bulevard and you reach the end of the pedestrian, you should continue a bit further until you reach Sveta Nedelia church. There is a tram stop in the middle of the street. You can take trams number 4, 12 or 18 (it is better to take your ticket before you get on the tram, from the kiosks selling them on almost each tram stop. A ticket would cost you 1 Bulgarian lev for one person). Take the tram going further down and in the direction away from Vitosha bulevard. And ride for 2 or 3 stops. If you want to get down on the second stop you will have to walk on foot to reach the Lions Bridge, which is in front of you and you can discover the bridge and the beautiful green spots for yourself. Otherwise, if you decide to get off the 3rd stop, then you will cross the Lions Bridge with the tram and can get off it once it has crossed the bridge. And then you can walk back and cross the bridge on foot on your way back.

Returning towards downtown Sofia you can choose either the tram or if you would like to discover the Sofia metro, there is a metro station right on the bridge.

Indian movies in Bulgaria: The City garden in Sofia

Known as a City garden, the garden of the National theatre in Sofia is the oldest and the most centrally located, originally created in 1872. It is also one of the prefered locations for the Indain movies in Bulgaria. With its green lawns and under the shade of the trees and with the splashing sound of the fountains – it is a favorite spot for everyone walking in the center of the city.

The flower beds, which are constantly freshened up with the flowers of the season are a real treat to the eye.
And a number of Indian movies have chosen the City garden as their shooting location.
The Tamil thriller “Masss” was the first to discover it and you can see parts of it featured in their Naan Aval Illai song:

Here come some interesting sights to look for in the Sofia City garden:
On one side of the garden you can spot groups of men surrounding small chess tables and playing chess on them. Then, if you happen to be in Sofia when the days are warm, you would find a gipsy orchestra playing music next to the fountains, providing a musical back drop for your visit. If you pass them close by and they hear a foreign language spoken, sometimes they start playing the music typical for that nation in order to attract their attention. And some tourists stop and faithful to the merry spirit of a tourist would dance to the popular tunes.

Indian movies in Bulgaria: The City garden in Sofia

And it is next to the fountains in the City garden that Shah Ruh Khan and Kajol shot this scene from the movie “Dilwale”, where Kajol is frightened by a dog running towards her and Shah Rukh comforts her.

Indian movies in Bulgaria

There is another interesting spot to visit, if you stand facing the National Theatre with the fountain at your back, on you left if you go down that street, pretty soon you will come across a tree, whose branches are low, so you could touch them, and most of the lower branches are decorated with martenitza. This is a very Bulgarian tradition, when on the 1st of March every year people give their friends and loved ones with token of red and white treads, which you should wear until you see the first stork, which symbolizes that spring is coming. And then you see your stork, or when you see that the trees are in bloom, you tie your martenitza to a tree branch.
That tree in the City garden in Sofia is one of the most decorated and attractive trees, where you can feel some of the Bulgarian traditions, so it is definitely worth looking for.

And the major landmarks around the garden include The National theater, the City Gallery, the Bulgarian National Bank and the Ministry of Deffence.

So take some time during your tour of Sofia and visit the City garden to take into its sights and sounds and if you would like to look like a movie star, strike a pose like Shah Rukh Kahn looking in the direction of the National theater:

Indian movies in Bulgaria:

Dilwale in Bulgaria: Vitosha boulevard

Vitosha boulevard is the main pedestrian street in Sofia full of cafes and bars and you can sit outside on the street and enjoy the colorful crowd that passes by. It is also good for shopping with a number of shoes, clothing and some souvenir shops you can find on both sides of the street.

And it is here that Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol came on their 3 day of shooting Dilwale in Bulgaria.

Dilwale in Bulgaria: Vitosha boulevard

The pedestrian part of Vitosha boulevard connects the park of the National Palace of Culture with St. Nedelia square. Actually if you start walking from one end of Vitosha boulevard – that which starts from Patriarh Evtimii str you can see the dome of St. Nedelia church and where the street ends.

Dilwale in Bulgaria: Vitosha boulevard
© Bulgaria Travel Notes

And if you start walking on it from the other side with your back towards St. Nedelia church, then what you see at the end of the boulevard and nestling the whole of Sofia is Vitosha mountain. Actually the boulevard is named after this mountain in the foothills of which is the capital of Bulgaria.

Dilwale in Bulgaria: Vitosha boulevard
© Bulgaria Travel Notes

And it was here that Rohit Shetty gave Shah Rukh Khan a bicycle to ride:

Dilwale in Bulgaria: Vitosha boulevard

And if you take a walk on Vitosha boulevard or sit in one of the outside cafes you will for sure hear the music of the street musicians and come across some street artists.

No wonder that the Dilwale team has decided to use this images with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol and a street musician to promote the movie.

Dilwale in Bulgaria: Vitosha boulevard

Bollywood in Bulgaria: The National theatre in Sofia

The National theatre in Sofia, called “Ivan Vazov” is one of the most beautiful buildings in the center of the capital. This is probably the reason why it is featured in so many productions of Bollywood in Bulgaria.

Most recently the theatre has attracted the eye of Rohit Shetty for the upcoming Shah Rukh Khan movie “Dilwale”. You can see the columns and part of the façade behind Shah Rukh and Kajol on this image from the set of the movie:

BTN National Theatre 1 - edited

Located in downtown Sofia, if you would like to take pictures similar to the ones you have seen your favorite Bollywood actors on you can strike a pose in front of the theatre beautiful façade which has 6 Ionian columns and exquisite Vienese baroque ornaments. The National theatre is housed in this beautiful building from 1907.

Inside the theatre all the performances are in Bulgarian, but if you get a chance to enter inside in the main hall look up to enjoy some of the most beautiful murals and balconies decorated with gold ornaments. The curtain of the main stage featuring an exquisite phoenix in orange, red, gold and brown is also a real treat to the eye.

Bollywood in Bulgaria: The National theatre in Sofia

The space in front of the theatre is open and you can walk around and unlike the way it is presented in “Dilwale” do not expect to see street artists. There are street artists in Sofia, but you can find them not here, but on one of the side streets next to the Alexander Nevsky cathedral.

In front of the theatre you can roam in the open space, sit down for a cup of tea and enjoy the sound of the running water from the fountains in the park and feel like a Bollywood actor.

As another proof that Bollywood is in Bulgaria, here is what Kabir Bedi, who is also part of the “Dilwale” team twitted, when looking at the National theatre in Sofia:

And if you would like to follow the shooting schedule of “Dilwale” you definitely have to start with the National Theatre, because this is where Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol started shooting their latest romantic adventure:

Bollywood in Bulgaria, Sofia

Where Bollywood movies have been shot