Paradise on your doorstep

Kathmandu :

In the midst of the mad mêlée of the Capital, it’s manna from heaven — a hidden heritage that once was the heart of what now remains a history. Thanks to an Austrian project of Eco-Himal, that despite the government’s apathy, discovered and decked out a legacy of an affluent past. No, it’s not a eulogy or a wish to glorify the opulence of bygone days, but the veritable Garden of Dreams that has remained a prominent example of architectural excellence of Nepal’s Rana period.

The garden with its amazing architectural structures including pavilions, fountains, decorative garden furniture, pergolas and statues still remains the finest example of the neo-classical architecture that inspired scores of palaces built during the Rana regime.

The garden adjacent to Kaiser Mahal with a blend of Western and Oriental elements was built by the then Field Marshall Kaiser Shumshere Rana and was originally designed to suit the six seasons, each characterised by six different pavilions. As with many other palaces and other exquisite works of art, the garden that once represented a piece of paradise on earth was however in complete ruins. It was only in the 1998, that the Austrian project decided to take matters into its own hands and renovate the derelict monument.

Ludmila Hunger Huber, who already has the credit of renovating the Patan museum and now the co-coordinator for the project, says that the garden recently renovated will now be open to the public from October 8.

“It’s a pity that such a marvellous thing was left unused for decades,” she rues.

Though even Huber never saw the garden in its original grandeur, three out of what was then six pavilions have remained and she maintains the garden must have been spectacular.

Though, half of what the garden must have been is lost, she informs that new plantation and fences have been built to give the garden a revitalised look.

Basanta, Grishma and Barkha pavilions named after three seasons are what now remain in the garden. “However, the beauty of the garden lies in the unity of different structures and its architectural finesse. Once enter the garden from the noise of the traffic of the roads, you will realise that nowhere is there such a place of peace and beauty,” enthuses Ludmilla. The garden also has a Viennese café and restaurant to help for the future upkeep of the garden.

The Austrian project has already dished out one million dollars for the project, and the garden might still take a year more to regain its earlier splendour. However, even after the garden gets renovated, the slew of difficulties doesn’t just end there.

“The most difficult aspect would be the future maintenance of the garden. We have trained people for about six years for its upkeep. If the authorities are not cautious about it, it won’t take more than year or a two for the garden to come back to its ruins,” says Ludmuila.

But, would Keisar Shumshere have liked, had he been alive to see the garden? “ “He really would have loved the garden. It looks marvellous now,” she says.