The mere mention of the Rose Garden fills the air with romance!.Undoubtedly its like paradise for a leisurely walk as a tourist or a brisk walk or jog in order to keep fit.
As one enters the garden, walking through the canopy of orange showers, along with the tall and stately silver oak trees lining the path, you are greeted with thousands of roses of different hues bobbing their pretty heads in the breeze. You breathe deeply – mesmerized by their sheer beauty. The Dr. Zakir Hussain Rose Garden in Sector 16 of Chandigarh was established in 1967 under (late) Dr. M.S. Randhawa, Chandigarh’s first Chief Commissioner. It is the largest Rose Garden in Asia spread over an area of about 4000 acres and has around 825 varieties of roses and more than 32,500 plants.
Continuing with our walk along the periphery of the garden, we cross several bottle brush trees and walk along side the majestic eucalyptus trees. Walk further and you come across a cluster of Bael trees laden with fruit around the time of ‘Shivratri’. Walk a few steps more and you can see trees like Fiddle wood (a tree with fragrant flowers and useful for making sound boards of musical instruments) and Kachnar (ever tried making ‘raita’ from Kachnar buds ?) Several other trees like Amaltas, Gulmohar, Burr, simbal, Devil’s trees, Koelreuteria (golden rain tree) and Pride of India dot the garden either individually or in small clusters. As you complete your round, you meander through rows of neatly planted roses with fancy names such as President Giri, Queen Elizabeth, Iceberg, Pink Perfect etc. Kiss of Fire is a vibrant yellow rose with a fusion of blushing pink and Arabian Nights; a red rose that makes me sing from John Boyle O’Reilly’s poem, ‘A white Rose’,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon
And the white rose is a dove”
The Rose Garden is home for several birds too like parrots and Great Indian Hornbill. It is fun to chase a little squirrel nibbling away at a seed and watch it vanish into its abode in the great Jamun tree. The coloured water fountains add to the joyous mood of the place. The garden is very well maintained, thanks to the annual feature of the Rose Festival in February. The lawns are perfectly manicured and there is sufficient lighting for walkers to feel safe during their evening walk. There are three solar arrays to meet some of the electricity requirements. There is also an open air stage to host quizzes during the festival. The garden also boasts of well–maintained toilets and a play area for children.
One word of advice, dress properly as it’s a busy place and you may meet many acquaintances (sometimes four times in two rounds, if walking in opposite directions) along with the usual tourists!
All pictures are by Anil Nanda and Ritu Nanda