The Garden Guide

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

Mubarak Bagh Delhi

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One quaint survival of the days of the older Badshahi (Empire) still lingers by the Grand Trunk Road between the Shalimar and the city- the Mubarak Bagh. This garden is the property of an Oudh Nawab, who recalled the fact that one of the Mughal Emperors gave it to his family on condition of supplying the Court with dalis of vegetables, fruit, and flowers. He cannot now fulfil the terms of his tenure; but lately he has allowed the enclosure to be partly used as a botanical garden and nursery for young plants in connection with the building of New Delhi. The Oudh nobles are always said to represent the best side of feudalism, and certainly there is something charming about this graceful action, in its suggestion of the duty of a tenant-in-chief towards his absent King-Emperor. [Notes: William Dalrymple commented that Towards the end of his life Ochterlony began to construct Mubarak Bagh, an extraordinary garden tomb in the Mughal garden he had built for his senior most wife, Mubarak Begum, herself a convert to Islam from Hinduism (she was born a Brahmin in Pune). Although the tomb has now disappeared, pictures of it show that the building in some ways represents a sort of resolution of Ochterlonys worries. The central dome was clearly modelled on that of James Skinners Delhi church, St. James, and was surmounted by a cross; but the sidewings were enclosed in a forest of small late Mughal minarets: the perfect architectural expression of the religious fusion which Ochterlony seems to have achieved in his marriage. In the event, Ochterlony died away from Delhi and was buried in Meerut, while the empty tomb appears to have been destroyed during the upheavals of 1857. But it is an extraordinary and completely forgotten moment in architectural history: the last of the great Mughal garden tombs-a tradition that reached its finest moments in Humayans Tomb and the Taj-being built not by the last Mughal but by a Brit A Japanese garden was made on the site of the Mubarak Bagh, in the 1960s, but was not well maintained.]