garden tales from a Brit at home and abroad
This is Kesar Kyari Bagh on Maota Lake, part of the Amber Fort complex near Jaipur. It was created around 1600 for the women of the harem to admire from above. According to Tom Turner, there was also an ingenious pulley system that allowed the women to reach the garden directly from their rooms, thus avoiding the risk of inappropriate male contact en route. The name translates as the saffron-growing garden, as originally it was this plant that grew in each star shape. The changing climate apparently means that saffron will no longer grow.
Some scholars call it the Maunbari garden and argue that it was designed to be viewed at night, the pale marble partitions standing out in the moonlight like a pattern of lace against the dark plants.
What I love about about this garden is its triumphant artificiality. Nestled below rugged hills, it is striking because the whole thing is so obviously, gloriously man-made, from the dammed lake, square platform base, and stepped terraces to the intricate stone work and patterned planting. To anyone who argues that naturalistic designs are always to be preferred to “the Checks and Restraints of Art” – I’d simply show them Kesar Kyari Bagh.