You’ll find Christian Dior rubbing shoulders with Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Jawahar, Lincoln, Arjun and Bhim at the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s sprawling Mughal gardens this year. These are just a few among the 135 varieties of roses on display.
The roses are special, but it’s the tulips, brought all the way from Holland, that take centrestage during the latest edition of Udyanotsav – the period in spring when the garden is opened to the public every year.
Tulips are President Pranab Mukherjee's favourites. As these delicate flowers do not bloom for very long, they were planted in batches in December and are expected to flower in phases till March 10. “We always take into consideration the choices of the president,” said UD Kukreti, officer on special duty (horticulture), Rashtrapati Bhavan. “The number of tulips has gone up from 5,000 last year to 12,000 this year.”
Besides roses and tulips, primulas – dense clusters of small, intensely bright flowers – are big attractions too.
It takes seventy-odd gardeners to tend to the several varieties of flowers, bonsais and other plants in the Mughal gardens – spread over 15 acres of the 320-acre presidential estate. A small cactus corner also forms part of the display.
Laid out by British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the Rashtrapati Bhavan gardens are inspired by those built by the Mughals in Agra and Kashmir. They incorporate elements typically found in such gardens – geometric designs, intricate stonework and ample water bodies like dancing fountains, water channels and pools.
The gardens comprise the main section immediately behind Rashtrapati Bhavan, the terrace garden, the purdah garden (also, known as the rose garden), and a butterfly garden around a circular pool.
Summer is coming, so there were a fair amount of wilting flowers, but it was still a pleasure to walk around the beauty on display, a break from the chaos of the rest of Delhi.
Visit the Mughal gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan from 9.30 am to 4 pm every day till March 19, except for Mondays.
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