When Garden of Five Senses opened to public in February 2003, Delhiites were awed by the beautiful rock statues and stainless steel sculptures, a serene lily pond, a solar park, a bell monument, fountains, an amphitheatre and a series of well-manicured gardens with a variety of flowers. Acres of land was lined with beautiful marble sculptures and ornamental garden artefacts. Families, art enthusiasts, avid photographers and youngsters visited in large numbers to unwind in the beautiful surroundings.
Located in Said-ul-Ajaib village near Mehrauli, Garden of Five Senses was built by Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTC). The project had cost Rs 10.5 crores and took over three years to be completed. The aim was to provide a place of serenity where people could come to enjoy nature.
However, the site has seen a sharp deterioration in the last few years. The ponds are filled with algae and dead leaves, the fountains are not functional, the gardens are overrun with vegetation and overgrown grass and the artworks lie broken. Also, the rainwater harvesting model no longer works.
Within the garden complex is a section called ‘solar park’. A solar rail, which was a big attraction among the visitors, no longer moves and is now rusting. “This entire network of solar panels was installed to supply electricity to the solar rail which was supposed to be a major attraction, but the last time it worked was in 2003,” said an official at the garden.
Similarly, the amphitheatre has been untouched and the jam-packed shows that were once a regular feature here are now a tale of the past.
The lily pond which was once a sight to behold with blooming flowers, clear water and beautiful fish has now been reduced to a shallow pool of algae, mud and tadpoles. The water is stale and stinks as you walk past it.
Also, a series of sculptures and murals adorning the site had attracted art lovers. These attractions have been damaged over time and no one has come forward to repair or maintain them.
In recent times, the number of visitors coming to the garden has also decreased. On an average, hardly two-three families turn up in a daily. What was conceived and built as a weekend hangout for families is now a haunt for those looking for seclusion.
“The garden is in a pitiful state. Now when I come here, I only find couples sitting everywhere. Thus, families have started avoiding this place as they find embarrassing. Also, poor maintenance has ruined the beauty of the garden for which it was known years ago,” said MK Gupta, a Hauz Khas resident.
Recently, Jyoti Jacob came here with her husband and daughter to spend some quality time. However, she had to change her plans due to the poor condition of the garden. “The surrounding are not family-friendly. It’s quite embarrassing now to come here with children,” she said.
Visitors have hope that the garden can be brought back to life if authorities focus on its maintenance. “The garden has been reduced to a pile of rubble. A suggestion is to install surveillance cameras which would serve as a deterrent to malicious activities and would help in keeping the place secure,” said Reena Patel, a homemaker from Mehrauli.
KB Sharma, the general manager of DTTDC, said that he will ensure these problems are dealt with at the earliest. He said the maintenance of the park is currently in the hands of private contractors. “The contractors do the horticulture work and our staff looks after the sculptures. But, we have no immediate plans for the solar park’s renovation. The amphitheatre is not used often and we have a booking system for it. The last time it was used was in February this year for a three-day spring festival.”