The Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, is one of the most magnificent estates in India. You feel its domineering presence every time you drive by the roads adjacent to the estate, extending, what feels like, endlessly, from the outside. Well, endless it is, for it occupies 330 acres of real-estate in the heart of Delhi. The Bhavan, the Presidential Palace, is flanked by the iconic Mughal gardens — spread over 15 acres, the gardens are a blend of the Mughal and English style of gardening, replete with canals, fountains, elaborate flower beds, well-trimmed shrubs, and a near endless variety of flowers. A part of the gardens — comprising the Herbal Garden, the Bonsai Garden, the Mughal Garden, the Spiritual Garden — is open to the public every year in February-March. Called the Udyanotsav (translates to ‘Garden Festival’), a tour of the Mughal Garden is the best way to usher in spring in Delhi…
The Herbal Garden: A decent patch of land that grows all types of herbs including mint, basil, aloevera and many other for diabetes, blood pressure, the Herbal Garden is the first garden you stroll through. With the variety of herbs and medicinal plants they grow here, we wondered if the President gets his medical supplies from here?!
The Bonsai Garden: Frankly, the bonsai garden didn’t impress. It did have a whole lot of miniature trees, but not flowering or bearing fruits. Have seen better bonsais elsewhere in India..
The Mughal Gardens: The main garden are the huge flower gardens spread across four layers — the musical fountains, the main lawns overlooking the imposing Bhavan, the rectangular rose garden, and the circular garden. Extremely well laid out, and so meticulously cared for, the gardens take everyone’s breath away. You so end up wishing the President would invite you for a stay at his Bhavan so that you could lie in his gardens reading a book!
The Spiritual Garden: This portion of the garden has trees such as Peepal, Banyan, Arjun, Apples..and probably that’s why, called the spiritual garden!
Information that you can use while planning a visit to the Mughal Gardens:
- Dates & Timings for 2018:
- It has been opened from February 6th, and will stay open until March 9th. The gardens are, however, shut on Mondays for maintenance, and will be shut on March 2nd on the occassion of Holi.
- The gates open at 9.30 in the morning and shut at 4 in the evening.
- Best time to visit Mughal Gardens: Remember, the gardens can get really crowded during the day. The best days are the weekdays, if you can manage. Plan to reach by 9.15 in the morning…we did just that and found, to our delight, that there weren’t many people at that hour. We merrily breezed in through the security checks, not having to wait in the queues. By the time we left the gardens at around 11.45am, we saw scores of school children lining up…plus, the regular public queue too had spilled over into the streets.
- Gate to the Mughal Gardens: Public entry is allowed only from Gate 35 in Northern Avenue. Every autowalla in the area knows the gate.
- Entry tickets/booking: Entry to the Mughal Gardens is free. You do not need to pay anything for a tour. Also, you do not need to make any prior booking for the gardens. Simply walk in…
- Where to park your car? If you manage to reach by the time the gates open, you will, in all likelihood, get parking by the street of Gate 35. This is valid parking. If however, you do not get any space here, drive up to India Gate and park there. Autos from there will charge Rs 50 for the Mughal Gardens.
- Nearest Metro Station: The Central Secretariat on the Yellow Line of Delhi Metro is the closest metro station. Auto rickshaws are easily available from the station. We suggest you walk it, for, it is a beautiful walk and the weather is so good at this time of the year.
- Things to not carry at the Mughal Gardens: You will not be allowed to take your purse, any eatables or water bottles during the garden visit. Cameras are not allowed too. Should you be carrying any of these, you will have to deposit the same at the counters before security check.
- How many layers of security check? 2. You are entering the gardens of the first citizen of the country, after all.
- Is photography allowed in the gardens? Yes. But only with the phone. We were overjoyed when we were told that we could click photos with our phones. The reason they do not allow cameras in, is because, they claim, people crowd up the garden spots for the best angles/shots. We found that hard to believe, since you anyway do that with your phone camera too! But then, you can’t argue with the security guards of the President of India 😉
- Basic amenities at the Mughal Garden: The are water counters right at the entrance just after the security checks. And then there is a snacks counter at the end of the garden trail where you get tea, coffee, cold drinks, ice creams, sandwiches, Indian burgers. There is a first aid counter in the garden. And there are toilets towards the fag end of the trail. They also have chairs under canopies for the elderly to rest.
- How long does the garden tour take? We rounded it off in about 2 hours…it was leisurely, mind you, with enough rounds of photography. But note, we went early in the morning…it wasn’t crowded at that time, which is why, we didn’t get help up at any place..
There are a bunch of counters selling organic manure, organic Indian spices, Khadi clothing, Indian trinklets etc at the end of the garden tour. We bought a couple of vermi compost and regular compost bags from here…