New Delhi:The celebrated Mughal Gardens, a horticultural paradise in the sprawling premises of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, which has been renamed to ‘Amrit Udyan’ is spread over 15 acres and boasts of over 150 varieties of roses, and tulips, Asiatic lilies, daffodils and other ornamental flowers.
The renaming of the Mughal Gardens comes months after the rechristening of Rajpath to Kartavya Path by the government.
The history of the famed gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan is as rich as its scented stocks of flowers, and intertwined with the creation of the President’s House (originally built as Viceroy’s House), designed by architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
In 1911, King George held a grand Durbar in Delhi where he also announced the shifting of the imperial capital from Calcutta to Delhi. Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker gave shape to the new imperial capital, with the Viceroy’s House and the North Block and South Block as the centrepiece of ‘New Delhi’, as the city was officially named in 1926.
After Independence, the Viceroy House became the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and the Kingsway, the ceremonial boulevard which runs from Raisina Hill to India Gate, was renamed to Rajpath.
After renaming of the Mughal Gardens on Saturday, the Rashtrapati Bhavan secretariat has also updated its website, which carries a brief history of the celebrated gardens.
“Spread over a vast expanse of 15 acres, Amrit Udyan has often been portrayed, and deservedly so, as the soul of the Presidential Palace. The Amrit Udyan draws its inspiration from the Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir, the gardens around the Taj Mahal and even miniature paintings of India and Persia,” reads the description on the website.
Sir Edwin Lutyens had finalised the design of the gardens as early as 1917. However, it was only during the year 1928-1929 that plantings were done. His collaborator for the gardens was Director of Horticulture, William Mustoe, it says.
Like the building of Rashtrapati Bhavan has two different styles of architecture, Indian and western, similarly, Lutyens brought together two different horticulture traditions together for the gardens, the Mughal style and the English flower garden. Mughal canals, terraces and flowering shrubs are beautifully blended with European flowerbeds, lawns and private hedges, the statement said.
Rose remains a key feature of the famed gardens even today. The gardens boasts of growing 159 celebrated varieties of roses which blossom primarily in the month of February and March.
The resplendent gardens are open to the public once a year and people can visit from January 31 this time.
President Droupadi Murmu will grace the opening of the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan – Udyan Utsav 2023 – on Sunday, according to an official statement issued on Saturday.
“On the occasion of the celebrations of 75 years of Independence as Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the President of India is pleased to give a common name to the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens as Amrit Udyan’,” Navika Gupta, Deputy Press Secretary to the President, said in the statement.
The varieties of roses in the gardens include Adora, Mrinalini, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Modern Art, Scentimental, Oklahoma (also called black rose), Belami, Black Lady, Paradise, Blue Moon and Lady X.
The Mughal Gardens also include roses named after people of national and international fame such as Mother Teresa, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Queen Elizabeth, Christian Dior, amongst others. Arjun and Bhim, from the Mahabharata, also find place in the presidential palace, the website says.
“In Christopher Hussey’s ‘The Life of Sir Edwin Lutyens’, Sir Lutyens’ wife has written that the garden was a paradise,” it says.
She added, ” flowers are set in such masses, producing a riot of colour and scents, that, when, with the fountains playing continually, there is not the least sense of stiffness. The round garden beyond beats everything for sheer beauty and is beyond words”, the websites quotes her.
Apart from roses, tulips, Asiatic lilies, daffodils, hyacinth and other seasonal flowers beautify the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan. There are more than 70 varieties of seasonal flowers, including exotic bulbous and winter flowering plants.
The garden also grows 60 of the 101 known types of bougainvilleas. Edging and flowering of flower beds is done with alyssum, daisy, pansy, among others. The grass that covers the garden is the doob grass, which was originally brought from Calcutta (now Kolkata) when the Mughal Gardens was being planted, it says.
“The Gardens has almost 50 varieties of trees, shrubs and vines, including Moulsiri tree, Golden Rain tree, flower bearing Torch Tree and many more. At present, over 300 permanent and casual employees are deployed for the development and maintenance of the gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan,” the description reads.