What is in a name change? A lot if, the government – with a war cry-like declaration to rewrite history, wants to make a statement through it. Mughal Gardens at the Rashtrapati Bhavan is the latest case in point. The government changed its name to ‘Amrit Udyan‘, in sync with the proclaimed ‘Amrit Kaal’.
The curious part of the exercise was how the change was carried out on the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s website.
The content retrieved from the site on January 10, 2023, had an informative write-up on Mughal Gardens. Identifying Mughal Gardens as ‘the soul of Presidential Palace’, the description said they drew its inspiration from the Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir, the gardens around the Taj Mahal, and even miniature paintings of India and Persia.
Regarding the name of the garden, it mentioned, ‘Sir Lutyens [designer of the Mughal Gardens] brought together two different horticulture traditions together for the gardens, the Mughal style, and the English flower garden. Mughal canals, terraces, and flowering shrubs are beautifully blended with European flowerbeds, lawns, and private hedges.’
This piece of information clarified the important misconception, and the real trigger behind the name change, that it was the Mughal horticulture style, just like the Mughal painting style, from which the gardens were named. But such facts hardly matter to the dog whistlers.
The map in the ‘Explore Rashtrapati Bhavan’ section at present shows the name as ‘Mughal Garden’ but on moving the cursor to the point, it shows the name as ‘Amrit Udyan’. When you click on it, the write-up describes ‘Amrit Udyan’ in these words: The “soul of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Amrit Udyan is spread over an expanse of 15 acres in the presidential estate. Inspired by the Persian Charbagh, the Amrit Udyan is one of the most celebrated features of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. President Pranab Mukherjee hopes that “the future of the country would be as bright and vibrant as the flowers in the Amrit Udyan.”
It completely omits the references to the Mughal Gardens of Jammu and Kashmir, the gardens around the Taj Mahal, and miniature paintings of India and Persia as the inspiration behind the gardens. But the worst change, in fact, is tampering with Pranab Mukherjee’s quote. Not only is he mentioned as the president (and not a former president), but the name ‘Mughal Gardens’ is changed in his quote to ‘Amrit Udyan’ to give the false impression that Mukherjee, as the president, mentioned it as ‘Amrit Udyan’.
Urvish Kothari is a writer and satirist based in Gujarat.