If there was ever an opportunity to experience India’s aesthetic richness it is to explore one of its historic and gardens. Emperors and dynasties have created some extraordinarily beautiful gardens from grand Mughal style terrace lawns to botanical gardens with diverse and rare flora. Step into one these gardens for a moment of contemplation and tranquillity to take a break from India’s exhilarating pace of life.
1.Delhi – Mughal Gardens
The Mughal Gardens are a group of beautiful gardens built by the Mughals in the Islamic architectural style. Located in the Rashtrapati Bhavan premises, the official residence of the Indian President. These gardens are utterly unique, divided into a grid of squares with handsome lotus shaped fountains. They have over 250 varieties of roses, 60 varieties of Bougainvillea as well as other flora with 250 varieties of bonsai plants and 33 varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants in the Herbal Garden. (The Mughal gardens are open to the public in February-March every year from 9.30pm till 2.30pm).
2. Agra – Mehtab Bagh
This Mughal style garden is located on the opposite bank of the river from the Taj Mahal, offering picturesque views of the ‘monument to love’, particularly at the sunset. It is believed that the great emperor Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal for his queen, wanted an identical structure for himself at Mehtab Bagh. Though no structure exists here, archaeological findings have proved the existence of a garden complex. Mehtab Bagh is worth a visit as it provides bewitching views of the Taj Mahal. The garden has been renovated by the Archaeological Survey of India and planted with more than 40 species of flora. (Open daily from 6am to 7pm).
3. Jaipur – Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh
This royal garden was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh in 1728 for his second queen Sisodia. Sisodia Rani Garden is adorned with beautiful wall paintings of the Radha-Krishna love story. The paintings on the wall and the narrative details truly represent eternal love and befits the essence of this garden which itself is a symbol of love. This lush green royal garden is replete with flowerbeds, foliage, beautiful water fountains, pavilions, galleries, iridescent water channels and murals. (Daily opening from 8am to 4.30pm).
4. Srinagar – Nishat Bagh or the ‘Garden of PleasurE’
Designed in 1633 by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jehan, Nishat Bagh is the largest of the Mughal Gardens in India. Rising from the Dal Lake in a series of manicured terraces and avenues of fountains playing against the blue mountain background, the gardens offer a beautiful view across the lake to the Pir Panjal mountain range to the west. The 12 terraces represent the signs of the zodiac and are planted with cypresses and cedars. The gardens also have the remains of some Mughal buildings including a double storey pavilion with latticed windows. (Daily opening from 9.30am to 7pm).
5. Kolkata – Indian Botanical Gardens
The world famous gardens, now known as Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, is a treasure trove of exotic flora amidst beautiful grounds. The highlight of the garden is the world’s largest Banyan Tree, over 250 years old, with as many as 2,880 aerial roots supporting a canopy covering 1.5 hectares. It is an awesome sight and well worth visiting during a stay in Kolkata. (Opening times 5.30am to 5pm Tues – Sun)