Garden of Paradise: A lost era

  • Nanki Singh, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Nov 06, 2014 17:30 IST

Most of us remember the Pinjore Gardens as a place for weekend excursions with family, not realising the history behind the beautiful gardens that date back to the 17th century.

IAS officer Vijai Vardhan with the coffee table book on Pinjore Gardens.The gardens were laid out during the reign of Aurangzeb by his foster brother Nawab Fidai Khan. In 1769 AD, the area came under the royal ownership of the State of Patiala till Independence. Soon after though, the gardens fell into a state of neglect.

Vijai Vardhan, additional chief secretary (tourism), has written a coffee table book on the Pinjore Gardens for those who are interested in the history of the beautiful Mughal gardens.
“Pinjore, along with the Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar, are the two remaining examples of this style of Mughal architecture,” says Vardhan, adding, “The fascinating thing is that it is a combination of Mughal and Sikh architecture as it was under the Patiala royal family later.”
The book titled, ‘Pinjore: The Garden of Paradise’, came about as a labour of love when Vardhan realised that there was no literature on the gardens. Getting it approved from major publishers too turned out be a daunting task.

“They all wanted me to write a book on the Mughal gardens of India with perhaps a chapter on Pinjore, but I did not want to do that,” he says.

Vardhan undertook the monumental task of restoring the gardens to their former glory in 2006 and held the first Pinjore Heritage Festival that same year. “Our heritage is in a state of neglect and I think the only way to change that is to involve society and make them aware,” he says, on the festival.
Narrating an incident about the photographer of the book, Darbar Singh, he says the man was out of work for years because the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is known to be severely understaffed and short of funds.

“I could sense though that he wanted to work and he has taken some marvellous shots for the book,” says Vardhan. His deep and abiding love for history is apparent in the fact that he has previously authored a book titled ‘Kurukshetra-Timeless Sanctity’ and three monographs, namely, ‘Rakhigari Rediscovered’, ‘Magnificent Monuments of Narnaul’ and ‘Buddha’s Trail in Haryana’.

His latest, ‘Pinjore: The Garden of Paradise’ will soon be available in bookstores.

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