Yadavindra Gardens: The Pinjore gardens which Mughals built and Patiala Kings revived

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New Delhi: In Haryana’s Pinjore, there are the now-forgotten Yadavindra Gardens which stand as an example of Mughal architecture in India. The long rule of the Mughal Empire in the subcontinent had a massive impact on every sphere of society, including art and architecture. The Yadavindra Gardens bear testimony to the Mughals’ love for gardens and the effort they put into their construction.

Who built the Yadavindra Gardens?

Punjab’s Mughal governor Fidai Khan built the Yadavindra Gardens. He planned the structure of the entire garden and the places near a natural spring in the Panchkula district. Three summer palaces were built around the resultant lush garden: the Rang Mahal, Jal Mahal and Sheesh Mahal which provided safety from the intense heat during summer.

Fidai Khan, who was Aurangzeb’s foster brother and also an architect, built the garden as one of the summer retreats for the Mughal Emperor. He also supervised the construction of the Badshahi Mosque of Lahore. But in just a few years, the garden built lovingly by Khan would be abandoned.

Why was the Yadavindra Gardens abandoned?

Local legends state that the Raja of Bhawana was weary of the Mughal court’s shifting to Panchkula and hence decided to drive away Khan from the land. To do so, he hatched a clever plan.

Goitre cases were frequent in those days in the Himalayan foothills as the salt that people consumed had very low iodine levels. The king decided to use the illness and assembled everyone suffering from goitre. The affected people appeared as the area’s inhabitants during the visit of the governor and his family. The goitre-affected people were even made palace staff including women carrying flowers and fruits to the women’s quarter.

The disease terrified the harem’s women who were manipulated to think that the water and air in Pinjore were contaminated, resulting in the common occurrence of the disease. The women panicked, forcing Fadai Khan to leave Pinjore. Once he left, Khan seldom came back to visit the gardens.

The redevelopment of the Mughal gardens

In the late 18th century, the power of the Mughal Empire declined and the gardens were abandoned. Pinjore and its surrounding area became the turf of conflicts between the plundering Gurkhas and local rulers. The local kings later asked the Sikhs of Patiala for help and defeated the Gurkhas in 1769. In 1775, the Maharaja of Patiala Amar Singh bought the gardens from the King of Sirmur State Jagat Prakash.

The Kings of Patialas rejuvenated the Mughal gardens. It became the holiday home of the Patiala Maharajas, and especially Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, who used the beautiful gardens for grand parties. After 1947, his son, Maharaja Yadavinder Singh donated the gardens to the Indian government. The gardens have been named after him who restored them to their former splendour before handing them over.

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