The iconic Mughal Garden of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was renamed “Amrit Udyan” on Saturday amid the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” commemorating 75 years of India’s freedom.“The collective identity of all the gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan will be ‘Amrit Udyan’. Earlier there were descriptive identities, now a new identity has been given to the gardens,” ANI quoted Ajay Singh, the President’s press secretary as saying.
Amrit Udyan, the spot that is also known as the ‘soul of Rashtrapati Bhavan’ has a long trail of history attached to it. It will be open for the public from January 31 till March 26.
Although called Mughal Gardens, the garden on Raisina Hill was not built by the Mughals, as the entire complex was built by the British, long after the fall of the Mughal empire. This name was given to the gardens because the design of the garden was influenced by Mughal gardens built by Mughals in various locations throughout the country; it was known by the generic name Mughal Gardens.
In 1911, the British administration moved its capital from Calcutta to Delhi which additionally involved huge construction to create spaces for its top officials. For this exercise, about 4,000 acres of land was acquired to construct the Viceroy’s House.
With respect to the construction of the Viceroy’s House, which today is known as Rashtrapati Bhavan, a large garden was one of its most crucial elements. The wife of the then Viceroy wanted something in the Mughal style and urged the planners to create a garden in that style.She is credited with drawing inspiration from the Mughal gardens she visited in Lahore and Srinagar as well as Constance Villiers-book Stuart’s Gardens of the Great Mughals.
The wife of Sir Edwin Lutyens referred to the garden as a ‘paradise‘ in the book ‘The Life of Sir Edwin Lutyens,’ written by Christopher Hussey. 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.”
In Amrit Udyan, roses remain the prime attraction of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. William Mustoe, the director of horticulture who planted the garden, is credited with introducing more than 250 distinct varieties of hybrid roses that he had gathered from all over the world. The garden has seasonal flowers in more than 70 different species. Tulips, Asiatic lilies, daffodils, hyacinths, and other flowers are among them. The garden also grows 60 of the 101 known types of bougainvillea.
All the presidents who have stayed in the house have left their personal touch on the monument. President R Venkatraman added a cactus garden whereas APJ Abdul Kalam added many theme-based gardens: from the musical garden to the spiritual garden. President Pratibha Patil had Bonsai Garden and nature trails added to the estate during her tenure.