Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Patiala no more a city of gardens

Patiala no more a city of gardens
Gagan K Teja, Tribune News Service, Patiala, September 29

Patiala, the city once known for its world-famous gardens, during the last few decades has undergone a drastic change. Though it is known as the ‘City of Gardens’, gardens here have either been neglected or converted into housing complexes or other facilities.

Telling the stories of neglect are the Moti Bagh Garden and Baradari Garden. The Moti Bagh Garden with its rare architecture of terraces and landscaping, now houses the National Institute of Sports. Its lush green plantation was converted into playing fields in the 1960s. In ancient times this place was the house of Maharaja of Patiala. It is in old Moti Bagh Palace. But nowadays this is an academic wing of the Sports Authority of India. This garden was dedicated for the promotion of sports by Maharaja of Patiala’s offspring. The institute has always been known as “mecca” of Indian games and it is the largest sports institute of Asia.

Though the garden has been put to the best use, Patiala, somehow, lost one of its major identities in the form of this garden. These gardens were rich in species of trees, which were often brought from Australia by the previous rulers of Patiala and grown for over 100 years. The avenues of the public roads in and around Patiala used to constitute a ‘green belt’ around the district before the 1950s. There was a 5-km long avenue of trees on either sides of the road between the Baradari Gardens and Moti Bagh forest.

Another garden, the 100-acre Chotti Baradari Gardens, contained several groves of rare exotic and endemic trees together with varieties of rare mangoes and guavas. The Bhapur and Yadvindra Gardens of these gardens have been converted into residential complexes, although the gardens still contain a few rare and exotic species, a reminder of its vanished past.

The main Baradari Garden is a fascinating example of the 19th century landscaping. It includes a botanic garden, an ornamental garden, a rock garden, fountains, a greenhouse, Rajindera Park and a flower nursery. The garden has a fine underground network of pipes for irrigation and fountains, but it has not been used for the last few decades.

With the passage of time and various other factors, mainly political, the city is loosing its sheen. Time and again the existence of one or the other thing is under scanner and if this continues, it will not be long that the city would not have any historical thing to boast of.


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