Thousands of tulips, hundreds of lilies, beds full of roses, and acres of dahlias – if there is one place that defines spring, it is the Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Inspired by the Mughal Gardens of Kashmir, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, these gardens have been ushering in spring in the capital for decades. This year is no different. While these lush lawns, with the President’s House standing tall behind, are a must-visit every year, we bring you some highlights from this year.
Tulips dominate the gardens this year. Over 10,000 of them in 9 varieties have been brought from Netherlands. Planted in autumn, the bulbs have already started blooming and are at their prime now. The highlight this year, however, is not only their vibrant shades—red, yellow, pink, white—but also their height, which, according to officials, has reached upto 2 feet – an unprecedented feat in the gardens until now.
Spread across the main lawns in small beds, the flowers are bright and beautiful, and the center of attention of all visitors. You must hurry up though, for they last only 2 weeks after flowering and start wilting as the temperatures rise.
Another special flower this year, Matthiola incana, has been brought in from Japan. Also called the night scented stalk, it grows on a single stem, blooms in shades of blue, white, and pink, and serenades the whole campus with its fragrance. Known best for its shade of white, which contrasts beautifully with the read sandstone of the walls, the flower can be found blooming in big bunches in the main garden, lining the steps of the circular garden and running along flowerbeds.
Ranunculus, a temperate flower, which resembles a tiny roses, bloom in many pastel shades in smaller beds, as do cyclamen, a small plant found mainly in hills. Phlox, candytufts, daisies, pansies, hyacinth alyssum, can be found corralling larger beds and adorning small corners. The season, says staff members, is ideal for these smaller plants, which last only until the onset of March. That is also why the gardens have opened earlier than usual this year.
Mughal grandeur meets English design
Inspired by the gardens in Kashmir and in Taj Mahal, The Mughal Gardens also includes many elements of British garden art. Mughal canals and terraces blend with European flowerbeds, lawns and hedges. The geometrical decorum and the play with water, quintessentially Mughal elements, have been combined with the organized caprice of a British garden.
The three main gardens include the main Mughal Garden, the Long Garden, and the circular or the Butterfly Garden. While the main Garden has water channels, fountains, and hedges diving the lawn, the Long Gardens run along a central pavement and the Circular Garden is designed like an amphitheatre.
Home to over 140 varieties of Roses, many of them named after famous personalities, the Long Garden is fragrant and enchanting. The central pavement with tall walls is home to creepers like flame vine, with bright orange blooms, and Bougainvillea, bursting with flaming reds and blushing pinks and vertical gardens.
The circular garden, also the last part of the trail, is where everything comes together and culminates. Arranged in order of height, the plants range from a few inches in height to about several feet. The large circular water body with a fountain makes the centerpiece and potted plants arranged on the steps create an illusion of a huge butterfly with its wings spread out. Tulips, marigold, stock, viola, sweet willium, phlox, clarkia, marigold and alyssum form the inner rings; tall dahlias, matthiola incana, chrysanthemums, and daisies meanwhile make the outer periphery.