Jewels of Northern India Tour 2014
February 19th - March 3rd, 2014


Feb 21st Delhi

Because this is the home of the President, no one is allowed to take photographs so the only way you will ever see this exquisite garden is by being here.

Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect of Mughal Gardens, made this Garden for Lady Harding. Mughal Gardens are very unique gardens in the sense that these are a combination of Mughal and British Architecture. There are Mughal canals, European flowerbeds, lawns and privet hedges, shrubs, herbs, plants and trees all around the garden. It has four water ways with different fountains. The Mughal Gardens are situated in the Rashtrapati Bhavan - the Presidents House of India. Formerly the Vice regal Lodge, the building is the highlight of Lutyen's New Delhi and was completed in 1929. Located in an area of 130 hectares, the palace has 340 rooms. At one time, 2,000 people were required to look after the building and serve the Viceroy's household.

The founder of the Mughal empire, Babur, described his favourite type of garden as a charbagh. This word developed a new meaning in India, as Babur explains, India lacked the fast-flowing streams required for the Central Asian charbagh. The Agra garden, now known as the Ram Bagh, is thought to have been the first charbagh. India, Bangladesh and Pakistan have a number of Mughal gardens which differ from their Central Asian predecessors with respect to "the highly disciplined geometry". An early textual reference about Mughal gardens are found in the memoirs and biographies of the Mughal emperors, including those of Babur, Humayun and Akbar. Later references are found from "the accounts of India" written by various European travellers (Bernier for example). The first serious historical study of Mughal gardens was written by Constance Villiers-Stuart, with the title Gardens of the Great Mughals (1913). Her husband was a Colonel in Britain's Indian army. This gave her a good network of contacts and an opportunity to travel. During their residence at Pinjore Gardens, Mrs. Villiers-Stuart also had an opportunity to direct the maintenance of an important Mughal garden. Her book makes reference to the forthcoming design of a garden in the Government House at New Delhi (now known as Rashtrapati Bhavan. She was consulted by Edwin Lutyens, and this may have influenced his choice of Mughal style for this project.

The west of the house overlooks the beautiful Mughal Gardens, terraced at three levels. A series of ornamental fountains, walls, gazebos and screens combine with scores of trees, flowers and shrubs to create a paradise so delightful that Indians called the garden 'God's own Heaven'.

It occupies an area of 13 acres and is divided into three sections (rectangular, long and circular garden) and sports a blend of the formal Mughal style with the design of a British Garden. Mughal style canals, fountains and terraces and chatris adorn the landscape of the garden, along with flower beds, hedges and a large variety of trees and flowers like roses, dahlia, marigold, bougainvillea, sweet william, viscaria among many others. The garden has four waterways with uniquely crafted fountains at their intersections that consist of 3 tiered huge red sandstone discs that resemble lotus leaves. The checkered flowerbeds lend an enchanting look to this wonderfully landscaped garden. These are open for a few days in the months of February to March only. The rest of the year these are closed. Because the President does live here, unfortunately we are not allowed to take any photographs inside where the gardens are, but I can guarantee you that you will be amazed at what you see.

India Gate -- Built as a memorial to commemorate the 70,000 India soldiers killed in World War I, India Gate was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and completed in 1931. Located on Rajpath, the road that leads to the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhawan, the gate is 160 feet high with an arch of 138 feet. Built from sandstone, the arch also houses the Eternal Flame, a gesture in memory of the Indian soldiers who laid their lives in the 1971 war with Pakistan. The India Gate today also houses the Indian Army's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Amar Jawan Jyoti.

A Wonderful example of early Mughal Architecture, Humayun's Tomb was built by the wife of Humayun, Haji Begum in the mid 16th century. This red sand stone structure is considered to be the predecessor of the Taj Mahal. At Humayun's Tomb -- The Mughals brought with them a love for gardens, fountains and water. The first mature example of Mughal architecture in India, Humayun's Tomb was built by the emperor's grieving widow, Haji Begum, in 1565 AD. Designed by the Persian architect, Mirza Ghyas, Humayun's Tomb shows a marked shift from the Persian tradition of using coloured tiles for ornamentation. Located in the midst of a large square garden, screened by high walls, with gateways to the south and west, the tomb is a square tower surmounted by a magnificent marble dome. The dome stands 140 feet from the base of the terrace and is topped with a copper pinnacle. In addition to the remains of Humayun, the complex also houses the grave of many other distinguished members of the Mughal dynasty.

The origins of Qutab Minar are shrouded in controversy. Some believe it was erected as a tower of victory to signify the beginning of the Muslim rule in India. Others say it served as a minaret to the muezzins to call the faithful to prayer. No one can, however, dispute that the tower is not only one of the finest monuments in India, but also in the world. Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi, commenced the construction of the Qutab Minar in 1200 AD, but could only finish the basement. His successor, Iltutmush, added three more stories, and in 1368, Firoz Shah Tughlak constructed the fifth and the last story.
There is also another one there that if built would have been twice as high…you can see the base of it and just imagine what it might have looked like. Lots of birds around this area as well as some great ancient architecture to look at.


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