The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 12 Some garden contrasts and a dream

New Delhi urban design

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But whoever its designers may be, however eloquent of the genius of individual Englishmen its plans may be, this last Delhi, like all its predecessors, will be built by Indian workmen. Ideas of 'peaceful domination' or 'dignified rule' are but a poor exchange for Indian religious feeling, for the deep traditional reverence of Indians for their Emperor. The material advantages of our good government-peace, laws justly administered, education, sanitation, hospitals, even the fairyland of European science-leave the mass of India cold. But the return to the ancient capital commanded by the Emperor in person, made a direct appeal to Indian imagination and loyalty. The old Indian ideal of unity,-in BHARATA, the Holy Land,- revived and personified by their King-Emperor, touched the humblest peasant, and rekindled the long latent fires of Indian nationality. Here lies the great opportunity of New Delhi, for the motive that can really move and lead India must be a religious one. This truth is cut deep in the edicts of Asoka. It was a religious ideal that inspired the Moslem reverence for the older Badshahi. It was Hindu bhakti that strengthened Akbars throne. Religion, high politics, and statecraft may seem far enough away from gardens, but sound art makes for sound politics, and their affinity in India is curiously close. Akbars pillar in his hall of private audience at Fatehpur Sikri is an instance of this in its strange beauty and its direct connection with the old ideas embodied in the sacred Mount, the Tree, and the Snake. On the outside the Diwan-i-Khas appears to be a two-storied building, but on entering it is seen to consist of a single vaulted hall, surrounded halfway up by a gallery. Standing alone in the centre of the chamber is a magnificently carved column, with a huge bracket capital which carried the Emperors throne. The pillar supports four railed passages leading to the four corners of the gallery, where there were seats for the principal ministers. Here the Mount and the Tree are one, meeting in Vishnus symbol of the Tree or Pillar of the Universe, whereon the Emperor as Vishnus Regent sat enthroned; while the four passages symbolise the cosmic cross of the four-went rivers of the Celestial Paradise.