Purdah Bagh, Delhi's only park reserved for women, deserves urgent attention at a time when the whole city is getting a facelift

Shoddy slums, tattered muddy pathway and inscribed warning — ‘Only for women' — mark the entry to Purdah Bagh. Located in Darya Ganj in at the meeting point of Old and New Delhi, the feminine pride of the Moghul era, today it lies in a shambles. The garden, once the relaxing abode of the Moghul womenfolk, is now desolate and unattended. Except for women and children living in the proximity of the Bagh, who often drop in, the park is hardly visited by anybody else. “We've been coming here for the past 18 to 20 years,” says Rehana, a visitor to the park.

It was established when Emperor Shah Jahan shifted his capital from Agra to Shahjahanabad, the present Old Delhi. It was a zone of relaxation and leisure for the women of the royal families. Tamarind, mogra, and various other kinds of green trees are found in abundance dating back to the golden period of the garden.

However, nowadays, Purdah Bagh is in sheer ‘identity crisis'. Let alone its historical significance, a large part of Delhi's populace isn't even aware of its existence in the city.

Entry timings during summers are 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and in winter 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. “The condition of the Bagh is bad, though the upgradation work has been introduced of late. It has a long way to go,” says Gudaria, a senior gardener who works at the park.

Problems like absence of proper lighting arrangements, lack of water supply and eateries, poor and unhygienic sanitary conditions, encroachment by slum dwellers, etc. have marred the beauty of the once picturesque garden. Even the lines of the sole fountain in the park lie destroyed, and the authorities are clueless about the development.

“Complete darkness prevails on the premises at night except in the servants' room, which adds to the woes,” says one of the staff members.

“The Horticulture Department is doing its best to preserve the garden. We are following the go green policy and introducing stacks of Ashoka Pendula and various other herbage,” says D.N. Sharma, Assistant Director of the Horticulture Department.

The Purdah Bagh, symbolic of the glorious Moghul period, needs urgent attention and revamping to save it from getting lost. With the Commonwealth Games round the corner and the entire city receiving a facelift, this could just be the time to do that.