Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Mughal Gardens renamed as Amrit Udyan: A brief history

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Source: The post is based on the article “Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Mughal Gardens renamed as Amrit Udyan: A brief history” published in the Indian Express on 30th January 2023.

What is the News?

The Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House) in Delhi have been renamed as Amrit Udyan.

About the long history of Mughal Gardens in India

The Mughals were known to appreciate gardens. In Babur Nama, Babur says that his favourite kind of garden is the Persian charbagh style (literally, four gardens).

Salient features of Mughal Gardens: a) The charbagh structure was intended to create a representation of an earthly utopia – jannat – in which humans co-exist in perfect harmony with all elements of nature, b) A defining feature of these gardens is the use of waterways to demarcate the various quadrants of the garden. These were not only crucial to maintain the flora of the garden, they also were an important part of its aesthetic. Fountains were often built, symbolising the “cycle of life.”

From the gardens surrounding Humanyun’s Tomb in Delhi to the Nishat Bagh in Srinagar, all are built in this style.

How did the Rashtrapati Bhavan get Mughal Gardens?

In 1911, the British decided to shift the Indian capital from Calcutta to Delhi. About 4,000 acres of land was acquired to construct the Viceroy’s House with Sir Edwin Lutyens being given the task of designing the building on Raisina Hill.

Lutyens’ designs combined elements of classical European architecture with Indian styles. Lady Hardinge, the wife of the then Viceroy, urged planners to create a Mughal-style garden.

While building, the Britishers introduced more than 250 different varieties of hybrid roses gathered from every corner of the world.

How does the garden evolve after independence?

C Rajagopalachari, the last Governor General of India, during a period of food shortage in the country, ploughed the lands and dedicated a section of the garden to foodgrains. Today, Nutrition Garden, popularly known as Dalikhana, stands in that spot.

President R Venkatraman added a cactus garden and APJ Abdul Kalam added many theme-based gardens: from the musical garden to the spiritual garden.

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