When they hear the name Talkatora, most Delhiites think of either the stadium or the sprawling garden.
But a late Mughal era structure deep inside the garden - a key to the name - is no match for the swanky new glass-façade indoor stadium-cum-auditorium and another glitzy building housing the swimming pool.
There was a tal (tank) at the west side of the garden, surrounded by hilly ground (part of the ridge) forming a katora (bowl-shaped natural depression).
Although the pond has gone missing long ago, there still exists at the northwestern end of the garden, a long wall with domed octagonal pavilions at two ends. This was an embankment (bund) to hold back rain water flowing into that tank.
There is another link to the past. The place around this was used as a camping ground by the Maratha army in 1736-1737. Writes GS Chhabra in ‘Advance Study in the History of Modern India (Volume I - 1707-1803)’: “Saadat Khan (a Mughal army official) had attacked a contingent of marching Maratha army after it had crossed Jumna. He retired to Mathura thinking he had defeated the main Maratha army.
Peshwa Baji Rao, had however, taken a different route to reach Delhi. He did not pillage the city and camped at the Talkatora grove.”
But for a visitor today, none of these seems to matter. “I have been to the garden and the auditorium a few times, but I did not know this bit of history,” said DKJ Swadeshpal, who works at Connaught Place.