ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Social Significance of Modern Gardens

The state must cultivate more parks to ensure greater social and environmental cohesion.

The word garden evokes a floral imagery and is associated with the picturesque. As one enters a garden, one can sense the distinctness of the space from what surrounds it. This feeling of being in an aesthetically different zone achieves the philosophical underpinnings of the landscape. Historically, in the West and the East, gardens were cultivated by the elites, as spaces opposed to the wild and supposedly threatening—the uncultivated forests. They symbolised the world of cultural and social sophistication. Over time, the conception of gardens changed with the changing economic and political order that coincided with them.

In the last five centuries, in India, as a result of imperial and colonial expansion, came the phenomenon of gardens, rooted in the cultural identity of the rulers. However, from the botanical, historical and social point of view, there is more to this geographical space. No doubt that gardens are a product of evolution, cultural exchange and human labour. Whether the Charbagh-style medieval baugs developed with the patronage of the Mughal kings in Srinagar, Delhi, and Agra, or the Central Asian Khorasani-style baugs by the Sultans of Gujarat, or further down the timeline, the English gardens in India, their development was shaped by some common and uncommon motivations. These ranged from the memory of home to recreating that space; marking the presence of the new rulers and their cultural sensibilities; providing for one’s own social and material needs of food consumption; and some even had an element of public good as the cisterns and the fountains quenched the thirst of travellers and native passers-by. There was a world-making inside the garden and through it. Critical environmental and garden scholars have pointed to the imperial and colonial instinct of “civilising the native” by bringing in a sense of order through these state-sponsored earth works.

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Updated On : 25th Feb, 2023
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