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Landscapes of Power, Gardens of Labour: The President’s Estate in Delhi, India
October 17, 2016 - 12:00-14:00
Public lecture by Professor Amita Baviskar
Renowned across the world, the Mughal Garden of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi attracts millions of visitors. Less well known is the fact that the President’s Estate also contains hundreds of acres of jungle, orchards and cultivated fields, with a wealth of plant and animal life that did not exist 85 years ago.
How was this miracle achieved? What keeps it going today?
My lecture shows how, in the last days of empire, the British transformed the once-barren hilltop of Raisina into a lush landscape designed to display colonial power and style. It traces the history of the formal gardens and forests, highlighting the role of sentiment, status and taste in designing the landscape. After Independence, this imperial legacy was reshaped to serve the public purpose. I discuss how human agency creates and curates this habitat, looking particularly at the quiet yet constant work done by the malis (gardeners).