The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 5 Gardens of the Plains - Delhi

Festival for birth of Humayun

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After his sons birth, Babar, who was at Kabul at the time, and had newly styled himself Badshah (Emperor), went, as was customary on such occasions, to the Char Bagh outside the city for four or five days to celebrate the festival of Humayuns nativity. 'Those who were Begs, and those who were not,' he writes, 'great and small, brought their offerings. Bags of silver money were heaped up. I never before saw so much white money in one place. It was a very splendid feast.' It is spring-time in the garden, the month of March, when all the flowers in their first freshness are coming up through the soft green turf by the waterside. The Emperor sits on a raised, carpet-covered chabutra, under a big chenar tree, where his presents are being spread out for his inspection: bags of the good 'white money'; and those charming dalis of fruit and flowers arranged in bowls, or tastefully laid out on large brass trays, such as still grace all festival occasions in India. Across the narrow watercourse musicians play, a Kashmiri dancer swings her castanets, while beside her a sword juggler is busily engaged in going through his performance. The whole setting is very like the garden we are considering. The Indian artist painting this picture in Akbars reign may have actually chosen some spot in Humayuns garden at Delhi for his illustration. In any case, the tomb of the former Emperor would most probably be familiar to him; and the narrow watercourses, and little square tank with its inner circle, are similar to those still existing in the garden; where, in fact, one misses only the flowers, and fruit blossoms, and the pleasant gurgling splash of the small copper fountains.