By : Jaswant Singh Puri : The Baradari gardens are located in the north of old Patiala city. This garden is located just outside the old royal Sheranwala gate. It was Late His Highness Maharaja Rajindera Singh who was instrumental in establishing this garden.
Earlier this garden possessed intensive vegetation of rare shrubs and trees. The garden is dotted with impressive colonial buildings. The marble statue of late respected His Highness Maharaja Rajindera Singh is also located in the garden.
The Baradari garden was located as a royal residence with Rajindera Kothi, Cricket Stadium, a skating rink hall and residences of ministers of erstwhile princely state of Patiala.
Earlier when India became free, Baradari Palace or Rajindera Kothi housed the Punjab State Archives, a repository of rare documents of historical importance. Now Rajindera kothi is converted into Punjab’s first heritage hotel run by Neemrana Hotels group in 2009. Press club which was established in 2006 is situated near Rajindera Kothi.
The name Baradari is divided into two parts. The word Bara stands for twelve and ‘Dar’ stands for gates. Earlier this garden was having twelve doors, now with the passage of time many of the twelve gates have closed down.
The garden in its hey days used to possess rare species of trees and seasonal and perennial flowers. There used to be big mango and laukat grooves, Fern house, and the rock garden which was having the sculpture of nude bathing beauty. It is to be noted that the railway lines also run through the Baradari gardens and the garden possess railway crossings at various locations. The garden also possess cricket ground which witnessed the games between Maharajas team and the foreign teams. The cricket ground in Patiala was one of the best in the region but now it is no more maintained as per international standards. The garden also possess the church which is designed on the pattern of Anglo-Indian architecture, constructed by erstwhile His Highness Maharaja of Patiala to catre to the needs of the Christian population of Patiala. The Baradari gardens enjoyed royal patronage during the time when Patiala was an independent state. It also got Chief Minister’s patronage when Patiala became the capital of PEPSU. In the garden are also located Mahindra gymkhana and Maharani and Officer’s lawn tennis club. Then there is Circuit house where VIPS’ holds meetings and stay overnight. The residence of Commissioner, Patiala division is also located in the gardens near the railway crossing. While walking through the garden the writer had an opportunity to speak to Dr B.S.Rai. Bhalla, formerly Professor and Head, Department of Philosophy, Punjabi University, Patiala. Dr. Bhalla is a senior citizen and has lived in Patiala for almost seventy five years. While talking he recollected that when he was a college student, he along with many other students used to go to Baradari gardens for studies because the atmosphere was cool, peaceful, quiet and conducive to concentrated studies, and Baradari gardens were away from noisy Mohallas. Dr Bhalla still loves going to Baradari gardens but looked sad because of deteriorating condition of the garden.
The writer while moving through Baradari Gardens had an opportunity to have an interaction with Prof S.C. Sharma who is President of Association of N.G.O’s, Patiala and former President of Rotary Club, Patiala. Mr. Sharma told the writer that JANHIT SAMITI is doing lot of work for the welfare and maintenance of the garden but the toilet facilities for the walkers in the garden should be improved.
It has lost now most of its glory and splendour. Now in the garden there is scarcity of fruit and flower trees. There is inadequate supply of water and maintenance staff for the gardens. Most of the gates have vanished. Many buildings bear a deserted look and are unsafe for lodging purposes. The hanging gardens, once the pride of the town, are in a state of neglect. The boundary walls, railings, buildings, infrastructure in the garden need extensive restoration and renovation.
Morning and evening walkers now are scared of wild animals who are roaming in the garden and there is no body to control them. There is a continuous flow of vehicular traffic which creates noise pollution and disturbs the walkers. The heritage hotel has blocked the road and the vehicular traffic has to take circular route. Most of the tall pine trees have vanished and multi colour seasonal plants are now seen no where. The sweet and musical chirping of the birds are now no more heard. The love birds frequently move across the garden without any check which makes the atmosphere uncomfortable for senior citizens.
There is an urgent need on the part of municipal and civil administration to restore the lost glory of the Baradari garden. This article is meant to draw the attention of the authorities and awaken them to the need for improving the condition of the garden.
Central as well as state governments have launched an ambitious programmes towards plantation and greenery. It will be appropriate if Baradari garden once again becomes an attractive place for the visitors coming to Patiala as well as for the morning-evening walkers.
There is an urgent need for intensive plantation drive in the gardens. More deployment of maintenance staff should be made. The garden should have proper security and electric arrangements for evening and late night walkers so that any untoward incident may be prevented. The cafeteria located in the garden must be revamped according to international standards. The provision of music and cultural programmes must be made. A mini Zoo could be created for the entertainment of children.
The tourism Deptt. at Patiala can contribute a lot for the required improvement in the Gardens.