The News Scroll 31 January 2018  Last Updated at 4:49 pm | Source: PTI

Hardinge Park turns 102; viceroy statue's pedestal demolished

Hardinge Park turns 102; viceroy statue's pedestal demolished
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+0530

By Kunal Dutt

Patna, Jan 31 After losing much of its history and heritage to years of neglect, the city's famed Hardinge Park that turned 102 today, has also lost the forlorn pedestal on which the iconic statue of the viceroy stood decades ago.

The ornamental pedestal, endowed with Roman-styled embellishments, and one of the last remnants of the era gone by, was demolished recently by authorities as part of the redevelopment of the historic garden that once hosted the Prince of Wales in 1921.

Old-timers of Patna, termed the decision as a "grave mistake" that has further "denuded" the park of its historical value.

"First they removed Lord Hardinge's statue and then decades later changed its name to 'Shaheed Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park'. And, now the pedestal has been knocked out, what I heard is, for a better view of the rock art behind it, how ironic is that," former Patna commissioner, R N Dash, nearing 80, said.

Spread over 22 acres and endowed with rich flowers and ornamental fountains, the iconic park was thrown open to the public on January 31, 1916 by the then Lt Governor of Bihar and Orissa, Sir Edward Gait.

The then Lt Governor of the province had also unveiled a five-tonne life-size bronze statue of Lord Hardinge, in full Durbar regalia, created by renowned British sculptor Herbert Hampton in London.

"It was an iconic park and should have been kept in its original condition for the posterity. And, the original name should also have been kept. Lord Hardinge was instrumental in the creation of Bihar and so, the coming generations should know about this history," Dash told .

Endowed with rich stocks of roses, chrysanthemums, bougainvillea and hollyoaks, it enjoyed a period of considerable glory, becoming a veritable symbol of Patna, besides Golghar, before being subjected to neglect and vandalism post-Independence.

The statue, with the pedestal, stood 18 ft-high from the ground and was the central piece of the entire layout.

In late 60s, it was vandalised, following which it was uprooted from its pedestal and unceremoniously dumped at the Patna Museum.

It was installed again in the 90s on a platform in a corner of the museum's lawns, along with the three plaques removed from the pedestal.

"Lord Hardinge of Penshurst...Founder of the province of Behar and Orissa April 1st 1912... Erected as a tribute of grateful affection by the people of the province," reads the main inscription of the statue.

The denuded pedestal thus stood forlorn for nearly half- a-century minus its famous occupant, generating curiosity and intrigue among visitors.

The brick-made structure survived through the centenary in 2016, but last year it was consigned to oblivion.

UK-based doctor Navin Kumar, who grew up playing in its gardens in 50s and 60s, said, he was shocked to learn that the pedestal and its old four fountains were gone.

"I have seen some of the best gardens in the UK and parts of Europe. Hardinge Park was one of the best gardens in the world, now I tell with certainty. Its heritage character should not have been touched, let alone its name," he rued.

Born in Patna in 1952, Kumar moved to London in 1982, but says his "heart always hankered for these old landmarks and buildings."

"Hardinge Park, Dunbar Park, and the heritage buildings, they made our city so beautiful, but now the urban fabric is so ugly, with no planning, just new structures being erected in the name of development and old ones being knocked down indiscriminately," he told .

As part of the redevelopment plan, drawn up around its centenary, original fountains, which had dried up, have been replaced by new ones, fresh landscaping has been done, flowers are blooming again, and a small water body has been created in its premises for recreational purposes.

The two old 'Ramgarh Raj Pavillions' in the park, maintained by the state's Environment and Forest Department, are still standing and have been given a fresh coat of paint.

"A historical place has to be maintained with its originality and due sensitivity. Sadly, today the definition of development means erasing the old and replacing it with new," Kumar said.

Carving out of the province of 'Bihar and Orissa' from Bengal was announced by King George V during the Delhi Durbar in 1911 under the viceroyalty of Lord Hardinge.

The viceroy and governor-general of India visited Patna for the first time in 1913 to lay the foundation stone of the Patna High Court building and later inaugurated it in February 1916.

By Kunal Dutt

Patna, Jan 31 After losing much of its history and heritage to years of neglect, the city's famed Hardinge Park that turned 102 today, has also lost the forlorn pedestal on which the iconic statue of the viceroy stood decades ago.

The ornamental pedestal, endowed with Roman-styled embellishments, and one of the last remnants of the era gone by, was demolished recently by authorities as part of the redevelopment of the historic garden that once hosted the Prince of Wales in 1921.

Old-timers of Patna, termed the decision as a "grave mistake" that has further "denuded" the park of its historical value.

"First they removed Lord Hardinge's statue and then decades later changed its name to 'Shaheed Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park'. And, now the pedestal has been knocked out, what I heard is, for a better view of the rock art behind it, how ironic is that," former Patna commissioner, R N Dash, nearing 80, said.

Spread over 22 acres and endowed with rich flowers and ornamental fountains, the iconic park was thrown open to the public on January 31, 1916 by the then Lt Governor of Bihar and Orissa, Sir Edward Gait.

The then Lt Governor of the province had also unveiled a five-tonne life-size bronze statue of Lord Hardinge, in full Durbar regalia, created by renowned British sculptor Herbert Hampton in London.

"It was an iconic park and should have been kept in its original condition for the posterity. And, the original name should also have been kept. Lord Hardinge was instrumental in the creation of Bihar and so, the coming generations should know about this history," Dash told .

Endowed with rich stocks of roses, chrysanthemums, bougainvillea and hollyoaks, it enjoyed a period of considerable glory, becoming a veritable symbol of Patna, besides Golghar, before being subjected to neglect and vandalism post-Independence.

The statue, with the pedestal, stood 18 ft-high from the ground and was the central piece of the entire layout.

In late 60s, it was vandalised, following which it was uprooted from its pedestal and unceremoniously dumped at the Patna Museum.

It was installed again in the 90s on a platform in a corner of the museum's lawns, along with the three plaques removed from the pedestal.

"Lord Hardinge of Penshurst...Founder of the province of Behar and Orissa April 1st 1912... Erected as a tribute of grateful affection by the people of the province," reads the main inscription of the statue.

The denuded pedestal thus stood forlorn for nearly half- a-century minus its famous occupant, generating curiosity and intrigue among visitors.

The brick-made structure survived through the centenary in 2016, but last year it was consigned to oblivion.

UK-based doctor Navin Kumar, who grew up playing in its gardens in 50s and 60s, said, he was shocked to learn that the pedestal and its old four fountains were gone.

"I have seen some of the best gardens in the UK and parts of Europe. Hardinge Park was one of the best gardens in the world, now I tell with certainty. Its heritage character should not have been touched, let alone its name," he rued.

Born in Patna in 1952, Kumar moved to London in 1982, but says his "heart always hankered for these old landmarks and buildings."

"Hardinge Park, Dunbar Park, and the heritage buildings, they made our city so beautiful, but now the urban fabric is so ugly, with no planning, just new structures being erected in the name of development and old ones being knocked down indiscriminately," he told .

As part of the redevelopment plan, drawn up around its centenary, original fountains, which had dried up, have been replaced by new ones, fresh landscaping has been done, flowers are blooming again, and a small water body has been created in its premises for recreational purposes.

The two old 'Ramgarh Raj Pavillions' in the park, maintained by the state's Environment and Forest Department, are still standing and have been given a fresh coat of paint.

"A historical place has to be maintained with its originality and due sensitivity. Sadly, today the definition of development means erasing the old and replacing it with new," Kumar said.

Carving out of the province of 'Bihar and Orissa' from Bengal was announced by King George V during the Delhi Durbar in 1911 under the viceroyalty of Lord Hardinge.

The viceroy and governor-general of India visited Patna for the first time in 1913 to lay the foundation stone of the Patna High Court building and later inaugurated it in February 1916.

Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds.
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