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Kathmandu new attractions: The Garden

of Dreams

The Garden of Dreams is situated within the premises of Kaiser Mahal (a palace, now the
Ministry of Education) which was built in 1895 by the then Prime Minister Bir SJB Rana.
The palace was later inherited by his son Chandra SJB Rana who later created the garden
and presented to his son Kaiser SJB Rana as his wedding gift. Being a man of great
essence, Kaiser Shumsher extensive landscape program for the garden included eastern
lawn, wooded and cultivated areas, and a duck pond to name a few. It is learnt that he
was an impassioned traveler especially to European Countries and the Garden of Dreams
was an inspiration he received from the gardens in Europe.

Click to enlarge the picture

Within the Garden wall Kaiser Shumsher created an exquisite ensemble of pavilions,
fountains, decorative garden furniture, and European – inspired features such as verandas,
pergolas, balustrades, urns, and birdhouses. He erected six impressive freestanding
pavilions, each dedicated to one of the six seasons of Nepal namely- Basanta (spring),
Grishma (summer), Barkha (monsoon), Sharad (early autumn), Hemanta (late autumn)
and Shishir (winter).
Click to enlarge

However, after the death of Kaiser shumsher in 1965, his family bequeathed some
portion of the Kaiser Mahal including his dream garden and Kaiser library to the
government after which the garden remained in dilapidated from for several decades.
Once the dream garden of Kaiser now covered with overgrown weeds. So, its structural
disfigurement caught the sight of some of the national and international
environmentalists, and heritage conservations during the visit Nepal Year 1998, when
Nepal celebrated the year as the tourism year.

Originally, the garden was spread within the domain of 19 ropanies, which has now
cringed to 10 ropanies only. Likewise, the three of the pavilions in the western part of the
garden has been encroached by urban expansion, with the remains of some structural
fragments but the central and eastern sections of the garden has remained intact.

These sections include the focal fountain pool, a myriad of original details, and fragments
of the original planting scheme.

To create awareness about the heritage preservation within the metropolis, the plan to
preserve the dream garden continued until 2001, when a million –dollar Garden of
Dreams Project was born and was funded by Austrian Government in cooperation with
the Ministry of Education & Sports and executed by Eco Himal.

After almost 6 years of restoration procedure, the garden is all set to cater to the public;
however, there are some impending services and facilities, which will be continued until
September 2007. “Even if the garden has lost half of its original size to the development
of Thamel, three of its neo-classical pavilions as well as its central lotus pond and most of
the other architectural and sculptural elements have survived their complete restoration
now securing the legacy of Kaiser Shumsher’s creation for future generation.”
To maintain the standard, the renovated garden aims to become self- sustaining though
entrance fees, café, bar along with other cultural programs, corporate events, private
functions, etc. To uphold the architectural beauty of the garden, it has been decided that
the garden will be a non-commercial garden i.e. free from advertisements, posters and
banners.

NTB, as a member of the Garden considers that the garden will be an icon for cultivating
interest in the people towards greenery and will help promote tourism activities in the
valley.

A number of elements have been added by utilizing latent resources of its existing layout
like an amphitheater has been created for open-air cultural programs and two of the
historical pavilions have been converted to serve as a garden café and lounge bar. The
‘Ratounda’, another pavilion garden’s lost portion has been reconstructed as a new focal
point and a range of new water bodies, fountains, pergolas, lush green garden, and
varieties of flora complements on the elegance of the garden.

The Garden of Dreams- an oasis of peace and tranquility amid the hustling city of
Kathmandu is open for public. The entrance fee for Nepalese and tourist is NPR 80 and
NPR160 respectively and there is also a provision of different types of memberships and
group visitors.

This article has been extracted from magazine, “Nepal Traveller, July-August 2007.”

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