Chris Knowles
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Photographer: Chris Knowles

Rashtrapati Bhavan

Gazetteer No. G0118

Date 1912-31

Address , New Delhi India


The idea of a Moghul Garden behind Viceroy’s House perhaps began in 1912 when the Vicereine, Lady Hardinge, visited Srinagar in Kashmir and wrote to Lutyens that ‘I should love a Moghul garden with terraces to start from the very top of the Ridge and come to the house…I have seen less good but the same style in Persia – water running down the centre with small falls from terrace to terrace, lovely stone work and steps, lots of fountains and of course flowers. I have asked for them all to be carefully photographed for your edification. I can only tell you it was a dream of loveliness.’

Lutyens designed the gardens in 1917. In the event, ten acres of formal garden were created between the massive retaining walls which lift both house and garden above the level of the plain. These retaining walls were developed into a series of ‘forts’ and terraces. Immediately in front of the Viceroy’s House stretches away a magical geometrical patterned carpet of water and fountains, red and buff sandstone, grass, flowers and trees, inspired by Persian gardens. Further away, on the principal axis, stretches a pergola, through which is attained the sunken circular garden. Round the edge of this are hidden the nurseries. Further interest is given to the gardens by the inventive, mannered forms of some of the walls and by strange skeleton towers.

The planting of the gardens was largely carried out in 1928-1929. In its creation Lutyens worked closely with William Robertson Mustoe, with whom he enjoyed the same fruitful intimate collaboration in India as he had with Gertrude Jekyll back home. Mustoe was from Kew and worked for the Horticultural Department in the Punjab until seconded to New Delhi in 1919. Whenever Lutyens was in Delhi, Mustoe would come to breakfast and the two discussed the types of tree and plant most suitable for India. With the exception of those in the Processional Way and in the north and south avenues of Viceroy’s House, the planting of all the trees in New Delhi was Mustoe’s responsibility and he was assisted in the planning of the spacing of them by Walter George. Most were planted between 1919 and 1925. As well as planting trees and gardens, Mustoe was responsible for the afforestation of the Ridge, most of which in 1911 was bare rock. His appointment ended in 1931. (Amery et al., 1981, cat no.389)


Amery, C., Richardson, M. and Stamp, G., (1981) Lutyens, the Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944): Hayward Gallery London, 18 November 1981 – 31 January 1982. London: Arts Council of Great Britain.

Also Cited In

Hartwell C & Pevsner N (2009) Lancashire: North. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Richardson, M. (1994) Sketches by Edwin Lutyens: Drawings from the Collection of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA Drawings Monographs No. 1). London: Wiley.

HUSSEY, C., 1926. GOVERNMENT HOUSE, DELHI. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 60(1547), pp. 388-394.

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