Shades of grey have began showing up amidst the fast depleting green cover over the historic Company Gardens that houses the legacy of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the legendary ruler of Punjab, as a major chunk of the park has been covered by concrete in the name of its beautification.
The concrete structure is being used as a parking lot, while the other half of it has been converted into a skating rink.
The other end of the park, however, bears a picture of utter neglect with structures being covered by wild bushes, lights not working, electricity wires lying naked, fountains are either out of order or keep running without a reason, stagnated water, broken barriers and garbage heaps.
Spread over approximately 84 acre, the historical park is poorly maintained. Sources with the municipal corporation say a major portion of the park is under the purview of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for upkeep of historical structures; however, the ASI officials denied of any such development.
At the park, though many old trees felled, but their broken trunks are still standing, bearing testimony of officials' lack of concern.
The park is mostly visited by morning and evening walkers, who too are vocal in their contempt of its unkempt condition.
The gardens once used to be a favourite destination of children, who loved to visit the zoo and enjoyed rides at the Children's Park situated on its premises. However, much to the displeasure of the children, the zoo closed years ago and the Children's Park too became prey of the officials' apathy.
According to ASI officials, the conservation work undertaken by the Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board at Summer Palace and other buildings had done little to boost the aesthetic value of Company Gardens.
Division of area
According to MC officials, the park area is divided into two parts, of which a major chunk of over 60 acre falls under the purview of the central government, while the area having Maharaja Ranjit Singh panorama falls under the MC's purview.
Though the central govt officials said ample staff were there for the maintenance of the park, a reality check by a Hindustan Times team found the area under their purview did not have more than three gardeners. The MC officials, however, claimed that nearly 70 gardeners and sanitation workers had been posted there.
The garden housed Summer Palace of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), which was built on the lines of Lahore's Shalimar Gardens, and housed a collection of rare coniferous trees, herbal plants and water channels set with fountains and golden fish.
At the one end of the garden, there is a statue of the king saddled on a horse. The Maharaja had named the garden as 'Ram Bagh' to commemorate his faith and devotion into Guru Ram Das, the founder of the holy city.
These include a bathing tank, four watch towers and a 'baradari'. Apart from these, the gardens are home to three clubs and the Maharaja Ranjit Singh panorama.