Charanjit Singh Teja
Tribune News Service
Amritsar, November 23
A century ago, the walled city had a small garden in every locality. Experts claim that it used to be a city of gardens. Most of these gardens have now been encroached, developed as localities or turned into parking lots.
Guru Ramdass, founder of the city, had planned the city with gardens and dug a large sarovar near Santokhsar Bagh. Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh Guru, developed the first garden in the city on the eastern side of the Golden Temple, which is called Guru Ka Bagh.
Sarabjit Singh Dhotian, a Sikh preacher from the SGPC, said, “Gardens has great importance in Sikhism. The Nihangs used to say Sabj Mandir (Green Temples) to trees. Even Sikh Gurus developed gardens in the city. It is sad that we have ruined our heritage.” Even Guru Ka Bagh has been turned into a small park, where the SGPC has now planted ornamental plants.
Dr Anand Gabha, who penned a book, “Amritsar: A study in Urban History”, mentioned several names of gardens, which existed till the annexation of Punjab by Britishers (1849). The gardens, including Bagh Akalian, Bagh Samsher Singh, Bagh Attar Singh in Kattra Dal Singh, Bagh Santokh Sar, Bagh Ralia Ram, Bagh Kalalan, Bagh Ahaluwalia near Dhab Ahaluwalia and Bagh Ramanand were prominent in the city. Some of these gardens existed till 1947.
Ram Saroop, a retired teacher, said, “Most of the gardens were personal properties of political elites. The descendants of nobles sold the gardens by developing localities. The gardens, which still exist, have some historical relevance such as Jallianwala Bagh.”
Conservation spatial planner Balvinder Singh, who is also former head of Shri Guru Ramdas School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), said, “In 1981, Bagh Ramand was there. I have conducted a survey of the locality at Ramandh Bagh. The gardens are lungs of the city. These should be revived and preserved as heritage sites. Ironically, Ram Bagh Garden, developed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, is in bad shape.”
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