Circular Garden, Mughal Garden, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Photo from Rashrapati Bhavan site, Delhi

Walk Through The Mughal Garden in Delhi

The colourful royal garden in Rashtrapati Bhavan—the President’s office and house

“And Spring arose on the garden fair, 
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”

--Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant
Mughal Garden, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhihttp://rashtrapatisachivalaya.gov.in/rbtour/photos-gallery/75

Birds chirped, ducks waddled behind a fence, as we walked past the herb garden, impatient to see the hues spread across 15-acres of the Mughal Garden in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Almost running past the musical garden, we went up the steps and were wonderstruck by the riot of colours—pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, greens, purples. The water flowing from the fountains sang a song and birds danced their way over the flowers and the water.

The Mughal Garden was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens for Lady Harding in 1917. But the formal planting was done in 1928-1929. Director of Horticulture William Mustoe worked with Lutyens on the design and the planting. The layout is a combination of the the Mughal and British garden designs. Divided into main, long and circular gardens, they have canals, multi-level terraces and flowering shrubs along with European flowerbeds, lawns and privet hedges.

We walked on the red stone pathway, accompanied by an escort, gazing at the rows of roses, tulips, dahlias, marigolds. The garden is home to more than 150 varieties of roses, informed Shamshunabi, the senior gardener, who worked there for over 20 years. He was born on the Rashtrapati Bhavan premises; his father also worked there as a gardener for 37 years. Telling tales from his father’s time, he said that the then President Dr Zakir Husain loved the garden and took great interest in the planting and the variety.” The herb garden and musical fountain were installed during late President Dr APJ Kalam’s tenure.

Two channels running North to South and two running East to West divide the garden into a grid of squares. There are six lotus-shaped fountains at the crossings of these channels. There are two big lawns–the central one being square and the East lawn adjacent to the building is oblong. The grass, ‘doob’ for these lawns was originally brought from Belvedere Estate in Kolkata.

The entire turf of the lawn is removed once in a year before the monsoons, new soil is spread and the grass grows back in three weeks. Planting is done twice a year, but this is the best time of the year. “We feel so good to see the flowers, the OSD decides on the varieties and where the flowers are to be planted. A proper plan is made and the colours and size of the variety are kept in mind,” said Shamshunabi. “In this season flocks of birds also visit us.” The walls shine golden-orange with the Golden Showers creepers. Also adding a tinge of pink and blue to these oranges were the Sweet Peas. Moulsri or Bakul trees were planted along the channels and on the periphery of the two main lawns and pruned to look like mushrooms. This tree has been mentioned in the plays of Sanskrit dramatist and poet Kalidasa (5th century) and by Mughal court historian Abul Fazl in Ain-in-Akbari (16th century document).

Rectangular Garden, Rashtrapati Bhavan Delhi, Photo from offiicial site

Moving out the main garden, we walked to the long or purdah garden, which actually should be called the rose garden. There are 16 square beds of roses enclosed in 12 feet high walls. Glowing with pride, Shamshunabi pointed out the blue roses, which were just beginning to bloom. There are more than 175 gardeners maintaining the grounds of the Bhavan. And the names of the roses are a tickler—Just Joey, Queen Elizabeth, Christian Dior, Kiss of Fire, Macho Man, Monte Zuma and Scentimental! There are many more, of course.

There is a red sandstone pergola in the centre over the central pavement which is covered with rose creepers, petrea, bougainvillea and grape vines. Along the walls are the China Orange trees; the flowers of which looks like a small orange hanging from the round tree. At the end is the circular garden, also called the sunken or butterfly garden. A fountain in the centre and steps of flower beds with exotic creepers on the walls make you feel as if have stepped into paradise.

Circular Garden, Mughal Garden, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Photo from Rashrapati Bhavan site, Delhi

This terraced bowl has fragrant varieties such as stock, verbena, mignonette, with tall Dahlias planted along the periphery. Jasmines lean on the circular enclosure. Walking out of this paradise, we looked at the collection of bonsais. But the heady fragrance and the colourful vista lingered on.

This article appeared in the February 2009 issue of Swagat, Air India’s in-flight magazine (now defunct), where I worked as Deputy Editor then. The Mughal Garden open for public for a few weeks in spring annually. Entry is free but there is a restriction on the number of people allowed. Online booking is available.

Photographs: http://rashtrapatisachivalaya.gov.in/rbtour/photos-gallery/75

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37 thoughts on “Walk Through The Mughal Garden in Delhi

  1. Very good post. Highly informative for travellers who want to visit this Mughal Garden in Rashtrapati Bhavan. Nicely written. Keep up the good work.

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  2. Wow, the Mughal Garden is so beautiful! I love walking through similar places where you can see so much natural color. Upkeep of the garden seems like a lot of work but well worth it to visit. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very infomative post and a new place for me to check out when I eventually get to India and Dehli. I never heard of the Presdient House before nor have I heard of the Mughal Garden. This is one place I would love to take a stroll around to get away from the urban hustle and bustle. I wonder how many people keep the garden looking clean and beauitful. It is simply stunning. 🙂

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  4. Delhi has so many of these beautiful things. I have been to Delhi a few times but never visited the Mughal garden. I will ensure I do visit it the next time I am in that city. I love the fact that even though Delhi is super busy you still get to experience some of these quiet places in the city.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. On our visit to Delhi we were rushed and really did not get to enjoy the city. The Mughal Garden would have been a great relaxing stop. At the right time of year, I am sure the rose gardens were intoxicating. Certainly a spot for a future visit. Linda (LD Holland)

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  6. My MIL had been to the Mughal gardens in the early 90’s and she still remembers the beautiful flowers and the lovely gardens. It is one of the trips that we plan to make in near future.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am yet to visit and be enthralled with the beauty of Mughal Garden. The vastness and the beauty of it that too in the heart of Delhi fills me with child-like curiosity to explore it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Touring the Mughal Garden seems to be such a pleasing experience. I am sure I am going to add it to my itinerary when I visit Delhi.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I had been to Delhi twice, that too with insabe wirk schedule, so never did I get time to explore the city. This place is in my must visit place now whenever I travel to Delhi.

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  10. Delhi is definitely a dream destination for us and this garden attests to that. The lush greenery, vibrant blooms and striking architecture are breathtaking. We’d love to just relax here on a warm summer afternoon! Adding this to our Delhi Bucket List for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This place is really beautiful. I love how they were able to maintain it and the combination of flowers is perfect. I would love to see the bonsai collection too.

    Adding this to our bucket list. 🙂

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  12. Rastrapati Bhavan of India is truly a master piece architecture with wonderful garden in front of it. Mughal Garden is very famous in Delhi and it truly deserves this position. To see 150 varieties of roses would be very interesting as to see so many varieties in one place is very difficult to find. Never knew it was known as Purdah garden. Good your article was shared on in-flight magazine too.

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  13. I will certainly check Mughal Garden when I visit Delhi once borders start opening up again. I always find walking around beautifully maintained gardens a very peaceful and relaxing thing to do. The Mughal Gardens will certainly be on my must-visit list.

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