City Hangout – Garden of Spring, Vasant Vihar
The park of poets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The carefree man in blue track suit is sprawled on the grass, his eyes closed in deep sleep, and his bare feet entangled amid dry leaves and white frangipanis that have fallen from the adjacent tree.
The DDA (Delhi Development Authority) run district park in Vasant Vihar, south Delhi, was renamed Bagh-e-Bahaar, the garden of spring, after its redevelopment last year. This afternoon, its beauty feels so tangible that you could almost hold it in your hand. Understood to be the only surviving of the many gardens laid in 14th century Delhi by Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq, it is among the city’s prettiest grassy escapes besides Lodhi Garden and Sunder Nursery.
The most poetic spot is the plaza named Bagh-e-Shazar, or the Tree Garden, in front of the gate no. 2 entrance on Poorvi Marg. It has red sandstone columns inscribed with verses by Jalaluddin Rumi, Joyce Kilmer, Rabindranath Tagore, and Khalil Gibran. Each verse, written in Hindi, English and Urdu, celebrates trees.
Here is Rumi’s: “May be you are searching among branches for what only appears in the roots.”
These verses on stone surround a luscious tree whose trunk is so entangled in vines that it looks like a sage’s knotted hair.
With the pleasant winter season setting in, the sunlight is easy on the senses and makes one nicely sleepy. That explains the languid postures of a few masked men, perched on the sloping lawn named Bagh-e-Sukhan, or the Poetry Garden.
While two couples are lingering about nearby, the others in the garden seem to be loners. One man is lying on a bench, reading a newspaper.
Further ahead are the soaring walls of Bara Lao ka Gumbad, a Tughlaq-era monument.
The most heart-touching sight lies along an unpaved lane shooting off the Tree Garden. Here stand a series of trees, and under each tree is sitting a lone man. A symmetry of solitude is mirroring into infinity.
Do not forget to gaze upon the slab outside the gate. It is inscribed with the name of the park along with the depiction of a leaf, identified as of the Pilkhan tree. This careful attention to a mere leaf, too, is poetic.
A poetic escape