January 15 – Delhi
(written by Raakel Toppila, photos by Felicia Yu)
(A view of one of the tombs)
This morning we escaped the crowded streets of Delhi to enjoy the peaceful Lodi Gardens nestled in the heart of the city. Meandering paths lead us through the garden as Delhiites whisked by during their morning exercise routine.
Two impressive tombs and other architectural marvels dating to the Sayyid and Lodi Dynasties of the 15th and 16th Century are found throughout the garden. The earliest tomb dating to 1444 is that of Mohammed Shah, the last Sayyid Dynasty ruler. A second tomb houses Sikander Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi from 1489 to 1517.
(We gained an extra group member the entire time we were at Lodi Gardens. We couldn’t shake him! Meet ‘Big Red’)
(Some plantings at Lodi.)
We shared a chance encounter with horticulture staff who were preparing for the day. The gardeners informed us that ninety staff maintain the 90 acre garden. Carefully planted display beds featuring primarily foliage plants are located throughout the garden. Towering trees undoubtedly make this garden a popular destination during hotter weather.
(Interacting with the gardeners of Lodi. We gave them a deck of Longwood playing cards; even though we didn’t speak the same language, we understood their Ooo-s and Ahh-s!!!)
We departed from Lodi Garden’s bound for the President’s residence, unsure if we would be able to pass through the high security gates. A few detours, a couple phone calls, and some smooth talking, we were in! Shri. Nigam Semwal, Special Officer on Duty (Horticulture) greeted us beyond the gates and toured us through the President of India’s Mughal Garden.
(Photos of the President’s Palace and Gardens were strictly prohibited. Don’t ask us how we got this one… )
The garden was designed by Edwin Lutyen, prominent 20th Century British Architect credited with designing much of New Delhi. It is modelled after gardens created during the Mughal reign, which occupied a large part of the subcontinent from 1526 to 1858. The symmetrical walled garden is pierced by channels of flowing water. Three large terraced garden rooms descend from the President’s House: the main garden, the terrace garden and the circular sunken garden. Beyond the Mughal Garden, we visited the Spiritual Garden, which highlights plants of religious importance. Next, we toured the Musical Garden, featuring a large fountain with water that dances to traditional Indian music. Finally we viewed the Herbal Garden, which includes plants of medicinal importance.
Our group felt honored to have such an exclusive tour of the Presidential garden which is normally open to the public for only the month of February.