The Garden of Five Senses was inaugurated in 2003, the culmination of a long project spearheaded by Delhi Tourism and involving a large number of public sector and private organisations. The gardens, just a little way down the road from the Saket Metro Station, today spread over about 20 acres of landscaped area. We bought our tickets at the ticket counter near the gate, and entered. This part of Delhi is upland, the fag end of the Aravali Hills, and whoever designed the gardens has made full use of that fact. Paths wind in and out of groves of bamboo, beside privet hedges, along stands of agave with pretty green-yellow flowers. There are trees of Mexican silk cotton, leafless in the late autumn and covered with flamboyant pink and cream blooms. There are bougainvilleas, flowering magenta, pink, peach and yellow. There are pots of chrysanthemums. There are flowerbeds, filled with nasturtiums, pansies and more in spring.
All of that, of course, is very typical of most gardens. What sets the Garden of Five Senses apart is that an attempt has been made to make it not just pretty to look at and pleasingly fragrant, but also kind on the other senses. Sculptures by a number of Indian and international artists dot the gardens, and visitors are encouraged to touch the works. Along the top of a hillock stands a row of five metallic women, dancers and musicians, frozen in different poses. Further along is a group, about thirty strong, of small children, carved from white marble and identical in their cross-legged postures. A frangipani tree in bloom, made out of bronze, stands beside a fountain. Nearby is a row of nearly life-size elephants carved out of coarse-textured red sandstone. There are lots of other statues too, from a small minimalistic doe, just the suggestion of head and back—to an almost Grecian mythological figure, clinging to a seashell.
Then there are the chimes. On an island in the middle of a lotus pond stands a Christmas tree-like structure hung with bells and wind chimes. One little gust of breeze, and everything starts tinkling delightfully.
Also within the Garden of the Five Senses are an amphitheatre (where performances are often organised) and a small maze—the latter a winding series of paths which gives the impression of being thoroughly convoluted but doesn’t actually allow you any scope to get lost. There are lots of patches of lawn, little copses and stone benches and picnic tables in places. We first visited on a December Sunday, when, because it was a holiday and the weather was good, dozens of families were out picnicking.
And yes, they didn’t forget taste at the gardens. The Garden has several restaurants, ranging from a small snack counter where you can buy noodles or burgers on a disposable plate, to more fancy outlets that specialise in Continental, Oriental, or Indian food. On our first visit, we ate at the Oriental restaurant, Spice; in subsequent visits, we checked out the other restaurants too—and that’s what the rest of this journal is all about.
The Garden of Five Senses is open seven days a week. Entry fees are Rs 20 per person.
New Delhi, India
March 7, 2012
From journal Indulging the Five Senses in Delhi