New Delhi, India
November 20, 2013
One such nobleman was Fidai Khan, who created the Mughal gardens at Pinjore, today on the border between the states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Pinjore lies in the Himalayan foothills, so Fidai Khan was able to save time and money: his workers didn’t need to create artificial terraces. The gardens were laid out, and Fidai Khan, along with his household, came here to spend time in the hills, unaware that the local populace didn’t at all welcome the `outsiders’. The local hill folk decided they wanted none of Fidai Khan and his people, so they played a trick on the nobleman’s household. The water in Pinjore was deficient in iodine, as a result of which many of the local villagers suffered from the disfiguring condition known as goitre—and the villagers made it a point to send, as servants at the gardens, only those who had goitre. Fidai Khan’s ladies were horrified, and fearing that they too would fall victims to goitre, persuaded Fidai Khan to pack up and head back to the plains!
The gardens at Pinjore have today been changed so much, it’s hard to recognise these as Mughal gardens. Although the lawns and the flowerbeds are pretty, the sandstone pavilions (each with sparse but delicate carving) have been painted over lavishly in a bright creamy-yellow colour. One of them has even been converted into a busy, crowded café—horribly commercial. The water channel has been lined with blue ceramic tiles, and studded with ugly metallic fountains (the fountains and the water course would originally have probably been dressed red sandstone). All in all, it’s clean and picturesque—but the modern version of a Mughal garden just doesn’t appeal to me.
Yes, one little bright spot, though: on either side of the main gardens are vast green orchards, full of mango and chikoo (sapodilla) trees. When we visited—in May—the trees were laden with fruit, and the orchards were wonderfully soothing and quiet.
If you’re staying at the Budgerigar Motel (which is technically inside the gardens) entry is free. If you’re a visitor, a nominal fee is charged: about Rs 20. Try not to visit on the weekends, when hordes of tourists from nearby Chandigarh descend upon the gardens. The gardens are open from 9 AM to 10 PM, so time your visit for shortly before sunset, when you’ll be able to see them in daylight and at night, when they’re illuminated.
From journal Traipsing around Haryana