The Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden, or Elephant Park, as fondly known by the locals, is a political memorial garden. Today, the residents of Noida don’t think much of the political past of the place and view it as an ideal weekend getaway.
Hugging Delhi in the east like a little sister lies the bustling city of Noida. New Okhla Industrial Development Authority or NOIDA for short is a satellite city of the national capital, often overlooked because of its flashier cousins like Delhi and Gurgaon. Set up as part of an urbanization push during the Emergency period, the quaint suburbs of Noida have long been steeped in politics. Today, DUB Travels is going to take you along to this budding megacity neighbor in NCR.
When traveling to Noida from Delhi, one of the most preferred routes is the DND (Delhi Noida Direct) Flyway which traverses the serene banks of river Yamuna. One of the first sights when you enter Noida, besides the gigantic statue of Lord Buddha as an ode to the Gautam Buddha Nagar district the city lies in, is a sprawling park speckled with sandstone figurines. For most Noida residents, this park holds a core childhood memory of sunny picnics and refreshing fountains.
The Rashtriya Dalit Prerna Sthal and Green Garden, or Elephant Park, as fondly known by the locals, is a memorial garden. It was commissioned by former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mayawati, at the height of her political glory in the state. Spread over 33 acres of land, the park is dotted with idols who devoted their lives to social justice and equality such as Sant Kabir, Bhimrao Ambedkar, and Jyotiba Phule. Among these social reformers are also busts of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati herself, surrounded by 24 eighteen-foot-high elephant statues (no points for guessing that Elephants are the symbol of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party).
Accusations had been flung far and wide over the construction of the memorial with the Opposition calling the CM a “megalomaniac” and “waster of tax-payer money”. Despite several roadblocks, the garden was inaugurated in 2011, drawing thousands of visitors in its heyday. However, as power shifted hands in the legislative, the park was left in a dilapidated state with certain statues cornered off. Today, the residents of Noida don’t think much of the political past of the place and view it as an ideal weekend getaway. Despite the lack of maintenance, nature thrives in the tree-line boulevard and rundown fountains, an idyllic retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
As I sit under the shady canopy, gazing at the statues which look like mere dots on the horizon, I can’t help but think about the past. There will come a new generation of park enjoyers who might have no idea about what had happened. There is something about this last remaining bastion of a bygone era of state politics that makes one ponder about the tide of democracy – a vibrant political arena forgone in favor of the current scenario. In its wake remain these age-less statues, stories etched in sandstone. How long before the next wave washes them away?
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Featured Image Credits: TripAdvisor