The popular Amrit Udyan or Mughal gardens has reopened for visitors, this time with a new selection of summer blooms. Here is a quick guide to planning a nice visit to the gardens and appreciating the flora and rich heritage of the Rashtrapati Bhavan complex.

Amrit Udyan, also known as the Mughal Gardens, is a renowned tourist destination in the complex of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President’s residence. It is known as the heart and soul of the palace and is a lovely spot to visit that is only available for a short time each year from February to March during spring. It is so well-known that when I first arrived in Delhi as an outstation student, it was on my list of things to do. It was highly recommended to me by my relatives who had previously visited the location or by my Delhi peers.

I prepared an entire day with friends to visit these gardens in order to truly experience the buzz. It’s a great moment to share my thoughts from that getaway because, for the first time, the gardens will be open for a month from August 16th to September 17th, highlighting the summer blossoms. It’s a fantastic chance for tourists and students to spend time admiring the flora and fauna while also getting a sense of the ambiance surrounding the historical building of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

To begin, all visitors should go to the official website rashtrapatisachivalaya.gov.in to book tickets to the garden according to their preferred time slot and gloss over any other information. The entry fee is absolutely free, however a digital pass is required to enter the premises.

Avoid booking tickets on busy days because the venue will be extremely crowded. The Central Secretariat Metro Station is the closest, from which you can take an auto to the Gardens. The Rashtrapati Bhavan’s Gate No. 35, along North Avenue, will be used for entry. Since the weather in the city may be fairly variable, I would advise you to wear comfortable shoes and clothing on the day of your visit.  Since you are visiting a high security zone, your baggage will be searched, so be aware of your possessions and try to bring as little as possible. The less you pack, the more enjoyable your outing will be.

Inside the premises, there is also a lovely white building complex known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan museum complex, which is another impressive symbol of legacy that you may visit to learn about the place’s history and heritage. One of a kind in the nation, it is a visitor-interactive storytelling museum.

Returning to Amrit Udyan, the enormous campus is home to a variety of beneficial herbal plants, which my friends from Botany field were thrilled to see. Each plant had a little tag with its common and scientific names on it. President Kalam created these herbal gardens, which comprise a wide range of therapeutic and fragrant plants. Beautiful fountains and flower species such as roses and tulips adorn the area. The scent of many plants and the soothing sound of bees is another feature of the place that you won’t find anywhere else in the busy city of Delhi.

While the Gardens is inspired by the famous Mughal gardens of Jammu and Kashmir, as well as those surrounding the Taj Mahal. It is influenced by both Indian and Persian architectural styles. Edwin Lutyens completed the designs for the Mughal Gardens in 1917. For the gardens, Lutyens combined two distinct horticultural traditions: Mughal design and English flower garden. The gardens were developed over time by many presidents who resided in the complex, and presently the complex includes the East Lawn, Central Lawn, Long Garden, and Circular Garden, Herbal-I, Herbal-II, Tactile Garden, Bonsai Garden, and Arogya Vanam.

One of the key sites is in the backdrop of Rashtrapati Bhavan, where tourists can observe the rear of the gorgeous monument, which is covered with numerous lines of flowers. The rectangular gardens are the most well-known places that showcase the Bhavan’s complex. However, professional cameras and drones are not permitted onto the site. Photographs can be taken with cell phones. For individuals who are interested in nature photography, their mobile camera can be used to capture the lovely blooms and the surrounding scenery. Personally, I liked the spot of Circular lawns the most because it included a fountain and a pond in the centre, as well as an amphitheatre-like structure with flower beds surrounding it.  It is worth noting that there is also distillation equipment  for the extraction of essential oils from the Rashtrapati Bhavan Gardens’ aromatic and herbal plants.

One can end their evening after a thorough tour of the facility by either purchasing refreshments from the complex or visiting several nearby cafés, like in Connaught Place. The outing to Amrit Udyan was quiet and serene despite the fact that it was expected to be crowded. It’s a moment to look at nature’s beauty and the marvel of life and evolution. It’s also crucial to grasp the gardens’ historical significance and the memories of those who have lived and nurtured the landscape for years. It’s possibly the most well-known gardens in India because of its connection to the country’s heritage.

It’s a low-key, low-cost option to spend time in nature away from the rush and commotion of the city.

Read Also – https://dubeat.com/2023/02/11/dubtravels-silent-nights-in-sunder-nursery/

Image Credits – Writer’s collection

Priya Agrawal

Located next to the famous Humayun’s Tomb is Sunder Nursery, a perfect spot for picnic and a great shout for couples looking for a place to relax and spend time together this Valentine’s Day.

Back in September, DU Beat decided to take a break from our usual weekly meetings in Lodhi Garden and spend the evening in Sunder Nursery instead. That day, the vast heritage park complex impressed me and its peaceful, almost magical, atmosphere won me over once the sun set. A few months later, in November, I decided to visit the place again, this time with my partner – and it was every bit as magical as I thought it would be.

While its name isn’t quite the kind of poetic title that is handed to most famous and historical places, the heritage park still has historical significance à la Delhi itself. The area was formerly known as Azim Bagh during the Mughal era. In the 20th century, it was formally established as Sunder Nursery at the edge of Lutyen’s New Delhi. The park spans 90 acres and is home to 15 monuments of which 6 have been given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Located in the very heart of Delhi, next to the Humayun’s Tomb World Heritage site, it lies on the Mughal-era Grand Trunk Road. You do need an e-rickshaw ride to get to the place itself from the nearest JLN Stadium metro station on the Violet Line and the park also needs tickets that cost Rs. 50 per adult.

Once you get that ticket and take your first step into the Nursery, you are hit by the kind of feeling associated with monuments in Delhi. The feeling of finding a world of peace, greenery and fresh air in a city known for the exact opposites. The entire area is full of expanses of greenery, fountains, restored monuments, flowers, small ponds and even  lakes. From the entrance the first monument happens to be the Sunder Burj.

After this monument, the path becomes increasingly elegant, with water dividing the walkway, pillars with lanterns lighting the area and flower bushes at intervals. In the day, one finds people enjoying picnics in the lush greenery that surrounds the path. On the right of the path lies an amphitheatre that regularly hosts workshops and events. The path then leads on to a lake that is another great spot to sit and talk or play board games with your loved ones. Right now, the Zaika-e-Nizamuddin kiosk offers Nizamuddin Cuisine from 11 AM to 8 PM all days of the week too.

While Sunder Nursery is a morning picnic spot for most people during Delhi winters, I would strongly recommend visiting during or after sunset as well. During my evening visit, I was especially taken aback by the magic that surrounds the area. Lit up with lanterns, the park takes a magical appearance after dark. Everywhere you look, one finds people enjoying soft and romantic moments under a tree, next to the large lake, on one of the various bridges that populate the area and in the shadows of the monuments that have seen countless other young lovers before them.

Everything seems to calm down in the dark, as if the Nursery decided to put on some music and sit back with a cup of coffee. It is an incredibly warm experience to find a space full of young couples enjoying moments with their significant others in the warm lighting and safety. What’s more, the size of the area offers space to anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city. In a country where safe spaces to express love and enjoy romance become increasingly rare, Sunder Nursery is a wonderful place to spend some time with the person you love this Valentine’s Day.

Feature Image Credits: Siddharth for DU Beat

Read Also: DUB Travels: the Chandni Lanes of Chandni Chowk

Siddharth Kumar

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A 10 minute drive away from North Campus lies an organic little haven of Tibetan culture, good food and great shopping. An absolutely perfect spot for DU kids!

Right off the bat I must tell you, reader, if you are the kind of person who prefers clean, polished and especially, open places – Majnu ka Tilla is probably not for you. However, if you’re an explorer, aren’t claustrophobic and are enthusiastic to try new food (or buy great first copy sneakers or clothes), you’ll fall in love with this maze of dimly lit and culturally rich alleys. 

The place, located on the banks of the river Yamuna, gets its name from the tilla or mound where a local Iranian Sufi mystic called Majnu met Guru Nanak Dev back in 1505. In the 1900s, the British built residential settlements in the area to house the labourers working on the construction of New Delhi. Then in 1959, after the Tibetan uprising, the area saw refugee camps come up consisting of people from Tibet. More than 60 years later today, the area has blossomed into a home for second generation Tibetan refugees, earning it the name “Little Tibet”.

That Tibetan heritage is evident from the moment you set foot in the place after a brief e-rickshaw ride from the nearest metro station (Vidhan Sabha or Vishwavidyalaya on the yellow line). Once you’re in, the place can be intimidating – and charming – in the way it seems to consist entirely of narrow paths and buildings that sprout from each other as if they are parts of the same, giant, living creature.

For the first few minutes of venturing in, it is quite hard to imagine this area is anything but your regular residential areas. However, you soon find yourself face to face with the monastery at the heart of this place and with it, possibly the only open space you will find in the entire maze. This is also when you first start to come across the most famous cuisine this place has to offer: laphing. There are numerous stalls throughout the area offering the dish along with other Tibetan cuisine and a lot of bubble tea.

Further in, you soon get to the stretch of Majnu ka Tilla that starts to look like the tourist spot you hear about. On your left you find numerous stalls selling accessories and jewellery, followed by numerous more stalls selling clothes, from Demon Slayer shirts to Zara jackets. If you happen to be a fan of K-pop or anime, this is a wonderful place to find cheap merchandise. If you’re a sneakerhead but do not have quite the budget required to buy Yeezys or Jordans, there are a large number of stores ready to sell you cheap copies that look almost exactly like the real thing. If you’re interested in exploring something different but good quality then stores like Akama Handicrafts and MAPCHA Designs offer beautiful tote bags, purses and Tibetan clothing as well.

However, dear reader, none of this is quite the reason I insist on introducing all my friends to Majnu ka Tilla. The reason behind that happens to be the wonderful eateries scattered around the area. The two most famous of these are AMA Café and Dolma House, both of which are incredibly old. Both are also almost always packed and on a busy day the wait to get a table can last for over an hour. However, if you do get in, the experience and food is worth the waiting time and more. AMA reminds one of a living creature again, with its organic architecture and warmly lit atmosphere. The food is, of course, the real reason it’s frequented by tourists. The menu is not on the pricey side and the pancakes and cheesecake are in my humble opinion, the stuff dreams are made of. 

Like I said above, Little Tibet isn’t for everyone and many people find it claustrophobic, intimidating or overrated. It is for those looking for new things, new cultures, good food and a good deal. In that, it is absolutely perfect for the students of DU.

Feature image credits: Jagran

Read Also: DUBTravels: The Chandni Lanes of Chandni Chowk

Siddharth Kumar

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In the heart of Old Delhi lies the once royal Moonlight Square. Today, it is the largest wholesale market in the world – and still quintessentially Delhi.

Have you ever watched a Hollywood movie with a scene that takes place somewhere in India? It’s usually a market filled with people, there’s constant hustle and bustle, some really old architecture and sometimes the sound of a mosque’s call for prayer. That, my friends, is Chandni Chowk.

Chandni Chowk was constructed in the 17th century by the fifth Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, as a part of his extravagant royal capital Shahjahanabad. As the central street of the walled city, Chandni Chowk was the path between the Red Fort and a gate on the outer wall of the city. Historical records indicate that Chandni Chowk or “Moonlight Square” got its name from a pond that reflected the moon. However, the British built a clock tower over it which collapsed in 1951.

Ancient? Yes. The moment you exit the Chandni Chowk or the Lal Quila metro station (on the yellow and violet lines respectively), you feel the weight of its four centuries of existence. Sure, there’s a McDonald’s and Haldirams around the corner, but the Red Fort looms in the background; a steady reminder of history and emperors. The Jama Masjid’s calls of prayer are greeted with respect from the people and are an important part of Chandni Chowk’s day. Make no mistake, the Moonlight Square is drenched in history and culture.

Historic as it may be, there is a different reason why this place is also a beloved hang out spot for Delhites: the food. The best example? Chandni Chowk is home to a street called “Paranthe Wali Gali ” filled with parantha vendors that have been plying their trade for generations. It’s also home to Karim’s, the original of the extremely popular restaurant chain. Established in 1913 with the intention of selling royal food to the common man, this restaurant has been declared one of the top restaurants in Asia by Times Magazine. Yet, it has not lost its roots and is still as common as it gets – until you take that first bite.

Food isn’t everything people flock to the Moonlight Square for, though; it is also the world’s largest wholesale market. The festival season sees it turn into a somehow even more massive sea of bodies as everyone rushes to find the best deals on dry fruits, fairy lights and decorations. Having first hand experienced the Diwali madness that possesses the square, it takes all my self-control to not name this piece “the Choked Lanes of Chandni Chowk ”. However it’s not all intimidating: most vendors group together in specialised bazaars based on what they offer – quite like the artisans and entertainers that populated it centuries ago grouped together according to their craft. And for all its fang-bearing to the unacquainted, Chandni Chowk’s people are generally welcoming and willing to help out. Still, don’t let your guard down, the crowds can be an easy place to be pickpocketed.

As a Delhite who’s somehow never frequented the lanes of Chandni Chowk until his college years, I see why Bollywood falls for its allure in movies like Delhi-6 and Rockstar. In its 400 years it has seen kings and colonists stake their claim – and outlived every single one. Its gardens and canals have long disappeared and its buildings are falling apart but it lives on, as if refusing to be lost in history. It is proud, it is intimidating, it is loud, it is charming and it doesn’t care who you are. Quite like Delhi.

Feature Image Credits: Hindustan Times

Read Also:  DUB Travels: Silent Nights in Sunder Nursery

Siddharth Kumar

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