Deccan Chronicle

Rang Mahal gardens 'bloom' again, inauguration today

Deccan Chronicle.| Aarti Kashyap

Published on: January 14, 2023 | Updated on: January 14, 2023
From left: Prof. Molly Aitken, Dr Helen Philon and Akhila Udaysankar at the RangMahal garden in Koti Women's College. (Photo: DC)

From left: Prof. Molly Aitken, Dr Helen Philon and Akhila Udaysankar at the RangMahal garden in Koti Women's College. (Photo: DC)

Hyderabad: Restoration works of Rang Mahal gardens in Osmania Women’s University campus in Koti, undertaken by Deccan Heritage Foundation (DHF), has been completed and the gardens are ready for a formal inauguration on Sunday.

Part of Rang Mahal, a 18th century mansion built by British resident James Achilles Kirkpatrick for his wife Begum Khair un-Nissa, the gardens were being restored for about a year now, with a project grant from the Sonata software. The structure is adjacent to the massive European style British Residency.

Architects, archeologists and historians teamed up to restore the gardens to their original beauty.

Dr Helen Philon, one of the founders of DHF, an archaeologist with expertise in Bahmani architecture in Deccan, described the elaborate history of the gardens.

"When we found remains of the garden, we realized it was a two-period garden — the Asaf Jahi and the British. We found a typical English style of garden. But the original Deccani garden was productive as well as beautiful. The Deccanese always had the capacity to reinvent. They never copied. Also, this is an ancient dialogue that needs to be revived again because deccan had connections with the world. I am taking this garden back to the way it was originally," she told Deccan Chronicle.

Prof Molly Aitken from City University of New York, who is a specialist in Mughal miniature paintings, spoke about the choice of plants and trees in gardens.

"The gardens have been restored based on the plantations depicted in the 18th century Ragamala paintings from Nagpur, which give a precise description of the flowers, trees, fruits and bushes, their fragrance, colour, timing and seasons of these gardens. An in-depth study of those manuscripts helped in understanding the detailing in the redesigning of the plantation," said Aitkien.

Conservation architect Akhila Udaysankar, who worked on the landscaping of the garden, said. "We are looking at local, tropical and indigenous species of plants such as lemon grass, hibiscus, lemon, parijaat, and going back to what a garden was traditionally in this region. In the long run, it will serve as an interactive space and not just historical evidence that has come up."

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