Meenakshi Amman Temple , Madurai, (Tamil Nadu)
Sacred gardens are an ancient tradition in many major cultures, including our own. They are the cultivated counterparts of the sacred groves and are a place for meditation, spiritual awakening and celebration.Although, there is less archaeological evidence of early gardens in India, the Hindu scriptures and books (Ramayana, Abijnana Shakuntalam, Mrichchakatika etc.) give remarkably detailed description of elaborate gardens with flowerbeds, lotus ponds, fruiting trees, creepers and shady spaces. In fact, gardens are a symbol of paradise in Hindu philosophy and art.
TYPES OF SACRED GARDENS:
Nandavanam – Divine plays (leelas) of Hindu Gods are often depicted in gardens. Most Hindu temples are therefore associated with gardens, also known as Nandavanam. These gardens are usually managed and maintained to serve the temple. Example: the Thirunandavanam or Madurakavi nandavanam attached to the Ranganathar temple at Srirangam.
Buddhists gardens – In Buddhism, gardens are described as a place for meditation and healing. There were beautiful gardens in Nalanda and Taxila. It is even believed that Lord Buddha was born under a tree at the Lumbini garden (now in Nepal), which is now listed as a World Heritage Site. The monasteries played a central part of the life in the monasteries during early periods. Even today, monasteries in India have attractive gardens attached to them.
Bagh (Bagicha) – They are ethno-silvi-horticultural gardens, traditionally planted near tanks, settlements or amidst forests, especially in the northern parts of our country. The biodiversity mainly consists of utility trees such as Mangifera indica, Madhuca latifolia, Syzygium cuminii etc. Green felling is totally banned in these gardens. Also, there is temple or separate space dedicated to the Gods (or village deity). For example, an excellent Bagh exists near a village inside the Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary in Kota.
Gardens of Paradise - Mughal Gardens are square or rectangular in shape, along the lines of Persian gardens. They are generally enclosed by a high wall with imposing gates on four sides. The garden is an orderly view of paradise. They are generally associated with tombs, since the soul of the dead person is believed to have reached paradise, which is replicated on earth in the garden. The tomb garden is called Char Bagh and is based on hasht-vihisht or eight paradises plan making a cross-axial garden. The well-known tomb gardens of India are Humayun’s Tomb (1571), Delhi; Akbar’s Tomb (1613), Sikandra, Agra; Taj Mahal (1630), Agra; and Bibi Ka Maqbara (1661) Aurangabad.
Sacred Gardens of India: