An art-filled garden that brings people together

At several spots in the garden, verses from poems and songs are inscribed on stones, hence the name. Most of the letters on those have faded out, but some remain, such as the jazz classic ‘Autumn Leaves’.
Named Timeless Garden of Verses, the garden has inscriptions of verses from poems and songs on stones across the park.(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Named Timeless Garden of Verses, the garden has inscriptions of verses from poems and songs on stones across the park.(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Updated on Apr 01, 2019 01:33 PM IST
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Gurugram | BySonali Verma

For Kaalu, who works as a street sweeper in DLF Phase-2, a garden in the vicinity is his spot for a daily afternoon meal, followed by a siesta. He neatly spreads a cloth on the ground under the neem tree, sits on it and opens his lunch box, oblivious to everything else around. This has been his routine for the past five years.

Manjari Iyer, a resident of Block K in DLF Phase 2, has been running on the tracks in the same garden every morning for more than seven years. For her, the green space amid the rows of houses is a functional, pretty and happy space. “I grew up around here so, this park has a special place in my heart,” she said.

However, what both of them aren’t aware of is that their beloved garden has a story of its own that goes back to the time when most houses in the locality were being constructed. Named ‘Timeless Garden of Verses’, the garden, located on the Akashneem Marg, has a hidden, unique connection of art and books, and was once the proposed site of a book studio and reading room.

At several spots in the garden, verses from poems and songs are inscribed on stones, hence the name. Most of the letters on those have faded out, but some remain, such as the jazz classic ‘Autumn Leaves’, which, incidentally, is also the favourite song of the man who built the garden from scratch, and is also maintaining it.

Raavi Sabharwal, 73, a former resident, who currently runs a bookstore that stores rare and expensive coffee-table books in South Extension in Delhi, moved to the city around 1995-96 — the memory of the precise dates has faded, he says — with a plan to open a community book store and reading room.

“I had found this beautiful piece of land in DLF Phase 2 where I started building a house with large, floor-to-ceiling windows for people to come and read, in nature’s embrace. There was a barren land with little vegetation adjacent to it. It was being misused so I proposed to the developer the idea of converting it into a community park,” he said.

Sabharwal spent around Rs15 lakh, he recalls, in setting up the 3,000-square-yard garden. “We planted several trees; set up a small pond with a fountain. The pond had lotus and water lilies,” he added.

While the idea of the bookstore in the city didn’t come to fruition because he couldn’t set up a commercial establishment in a residential area as per the colony’s regulations, the garden has become the community space that Sabharwal envisioned.

“Many flock to the garden to stroll or chat. But more than only a recreational space, the place is a great equalizer. That is where I got to know my neighbours while walking my dog,” said Vivek Sinha, a resident of DLF Phase 2.

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