Every year in month of Feb-Mar the gates of Mughal gardens at Rashtrapati Bhawan are thrown open to public to have a look at the beautiful and sprawling gardens. Designed primarily by Edwin Lutyens, the gardens take the name and design from the Mughal tradition of building gardens in India. Mughals had actually brought this concept and style from their native places in Central Asia. The famous Mughal gardens built in then India, included Shalimar Bagh at Srinagar and Lahore and Lal Bagh at Dhaka. These gardens are characterised by significant use of rectilinear lay outs and of pools, fountains and canals inside the premises. Lutyens used this style while planning for Viceroy’s house (built between 1912- 1929) subsequent to shifting of India’s capital to Delhi from Kolkata in 1911. This house later used by Presidents of India is so big and huge that it is said to be second biggest residence of a head of state in the world after Quirinal Palace at Rome.
So with so much history to boast of plus being the house of the commander of all the armed forces in India, the gates were thrown open for the ‘common’ public of India on 15th Feb this year. I was there too in the 3rd week and decided to see the gardens along with my niece. I was curious to compare it with, had seen by me, famed Mughals gardens of Srinagar.
We went on Tuesday, thinking that schools being open and exams around the corner, there would not be much rush. I was proven wrong as soon as I landed near the gates. There was a huge rush actually. The crowds consisting of youngest to the oldest had queued up on the gates. We too queued and after some frisking got entry inside. I was happily surprised to be allowed to keep mobiles as I could now click pics. The perennial stream of crowd however took over right from the start. Everywhere we moved, there was a pressure of the crowd.
The public entrance to gardens is from the herbs plants section. They have placed name plaques of those plants including their popular and biological names. Then you have the bonsai section. It has many high quality trees to display including an impressive cluster of Jungle-Jalebi. I tool some snaps and moved on to next section.
From Bonsai section, you move on to a section of fountains and flowers. The fountains were favorites of Mughals too. The fountains including the musical ones are a big public draw and are popular among tourists for pictures. The fountains are good really, but you can found similar and sometimes even better fountains in many parks of India, although they may not have the credits for glorious history. The guards on duty were letting every body take pics provided they did not over step on the grass section. However with every other individual sporting a mobile camera, it was not so easy to get yourself clicked there. It was sometimes embarrassing to smile and pose while many more pairs of individuals are waiting impatiently to get that vantage-point to click or to get clicked. I somehow managed to get a shot for me.
We moved on the next section which has architecture of geographical designs. There are circles and squares and plants of different types and varieties.My niece was too keen to be clicked along those designs and I happily obliged with few shots. There is a song of Mughal Garden too. The song welcomes the tourists on behalf of flowers and plants there and expects them to plant similar plants and make them part of their lives.
The next section is of water channels flowing beautifully through various patterns in garden. There are many beautiful flowers here including beautiful ‘Icebergs’ and Tulips etc. The red tulips can easily remind you of Hindi movie Silsila shot in Holland. The President too posed by them two days ago and the pics were in all newspapers.
We moved on to see many more sections and kept on jostling for space to take shots. The enthusiasm of crowd was really great. They wanted to feel and touch every flower but the pressure of crowd was little too much to enjoy the beauty of flowers and surroundings. We reached the circular gardens also, another beautifully laid out structure in Mughal Gardens. These stepped gardens are impressive in layout and have a fountain in centre. The elevation gives a truly panoramic view.
The exit to circular garden leads to the gardens of Cacti and there is a beautiful pattern of cacti flowers there.
I really enjoyed the beauty of gardens more so with the knowledge, that I was right there in the President’s house and was watching the flowers and gardens savored by his excellency. The love and enthusiasm of the crowds or ‘common-man’ for being there was also pleasing and more than compensated for the lack of some space. It’s a real tribute to the democratic ethos of the country that most ordinary can access the most privileged house of the country and that the classes and masses can can rub shoulders with each other.