The Garden Guide

Book: C.M Villiers Stuart Gardens of the Great Mughals
Chapter: Chapter 9 Pinjor - An Indian country house and its garden

Pinjore Gardens in spring

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Beneath the seat on the platform, which juts out slightly above the stream, the spring rises through a great stone vase, over the edges of which the water pours in a smooth, glistening circle, and runs merrily away to fill the long canal with dancing ripples; and on this terrace no other fountains break the surface of the stream. How much these old gardens could tell us, did we but choose to pause and listen, of the true love of beauty which inspired their makers. Seen from the shady seat under the mango trees, the spring becomes a magic water mirror, within whose dark green depths the whole history of the garden passes: Fadai Khan and his frightened ladies; the cunning Rajputs of the hills who drove him out; Gurka raiders rushing in in search of plunder, to find only an empty palace and deserted garden; fierce Sikh warriors, their long hair twisted under gorgeous turbans, crowding round their Maharaja on his first inspection of his new possessions there; then English faces, white and tired, but brightening with delight at the gardens brilliant beauty. The water pictures grow fainter, their colours become blurred; but few strangers pass, and they only stragglers from the convoys marching down from the hills; native servants carrying big bundles, still, like all the poorer Indians, with a lingering interest in the beauty of old times. They stand on the little platform fascinated by the mystery of the spring. Long green wreaths shine in the depths of the water, coiling like seaweeds round and round. Suddenly, the water rising in a swirl, one darker coil flashes over the edge of the fountain and is gone. What was it ? A tangle of dark green weeds floating up ? The Indians would smile at such Sahib-logs ignorance, for have they not seen for themselves ? It is Naga, the Elder of ALL, the Snake of the Ancient Kings, come back to claim the half-deserted garden as his own.