President Pranab Mukherjee once said that “the future of the country would be as bright and vibrant as the flowers in the Mughal Gardens.”
The gardens, usually open to the public in February, are spread over 15 acres at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the national capital. It boasts of flowers from various countries, including India.
There are the tulips from the Netherlands, Brazilian orchids, Cherry Blossom and assorted seasonals from Japan, and Water Lily from China among others.
According to official figures, 4,79,340 visited the gardens at the Presidential Palace during the period between February 15, 2013 to March 20, 2013.
The design for the Mughal Gardens was finalized by British architect Sir Edward Lutyens in 1917, but the plantings were done much later – in the years 1928-29. For this project, whose architecture complements that of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Sir Lutyens had collaborated with William Robertson Mustoe, a horticulturist. William was supposedly given the responsibility to give a green makeover to the place’s landscape.
Much like the architecture of the Presidential Palace, which reflects a mix of Indian and Western styles, the gardens too have a beautiful architectural pattern that reflects both – the Mughal style along with the English flower canals.
“Mughal canals, terraces and flowering shrubs are beautifully blended with European flowerbeds, lawns and private hedges,” says the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The main gardens, which comprise of Rectangular Garden, Long Garden or the Purdha Garden and the Circular (Sunken or Butterfly) Garden, grow around 159 varieties of celebrated roses, which are in full bloom in the months of February and March.
The Long Garden is located to the west of the Main Garden, while the Circular garden is the westernmost portion of the garden and has a bubble fountain concealed in a pool in the centre.
The flowers have been named after famed personalities like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, American presidents — Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth, French fashion designer Christian Dior, along with Bhim and Arjun from the Mahabharata.
There are also Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower, Modern Art, Oklahoma (also called black rose), Belami, Black Lady, Paradise, Blue Moon and Lady X.
According to the Hindustan Times, this year the gardens also have a crossbred variety of rose (between Wilfred Norris and English Holiday) which has been named after the Indian president – ‘President Pranab,’ along with a variety named after his late wife ‘Suvra Mukherjee.’
The gardens are also planted with daisy, pansy, tulip and hyacinth and other seasonal blooms of 70 kinds, including exotic bulbous and winter flowering plants. It also has 60 of the 101 known types of bougainvilleas.
The doob grass, which covers the gardens, was brought from Kolkata (then Calcutta) when the garden was initially planted. Apart from the flowers, the gardens also house a variety of trees like the Totch tree and the Moulsiri tree, which add to the beauty of the sprawling gardens.
While each president has used the gardens in an efficient manner, they had become a laboratory for experiments related to the nature during late President A.P.J Abdul Kalam’s tenure from 2002-2007. He had also set up two huts – ‘Thinking Hut’ and the ‘Immortal Hut’ in the garden premises.
While he used the former to hold discussions with his friends and also to pen most parts of his book Indomitable Spirit there, the second served more as a bio-diversity park with various varieties of trees and herbs, says an IANS report.
Similarly, during his tenure President K.R. Narayanan along with the Centre for Science and Environment had initiated rainwater harvesting in estate, while President Pranab Mukherjee got a sewage treatment plant made so recycled water could be used for watering the plants.
The gardens are presently open to the public until March 12 between 9.30 am to 4 pm. It is closed on Mondays.