fortune — from extreme glory to extreme neglect and witnessed as a silent sentinel the struggle for the country’s freedom and post-colonial vandalism. One of the arms of the statue was damaged and to this day it stands with a broken arm.
“Hardinge Park is an important and historic site and we want to revive its glory and develop it as a model park with recreational facilities like toy train, musical fountains, small boating space and also sporting facilities in its adjoining open area,” Commissioner, Patna Division, Anand Kishor had said.
Of its total area of over 22 acres, the garden occupies nearly 16 acres while the rest is an open space separated from the main park by an open drain, part of which has been covered to bridge the two sides. The site is still remembered by city- dwellers as the place which hosted popular amusement shows like ‘Disneyland Circus’.
“The park was made to commemorate Viceroy Lord Hardinge’s visit to Patna in 1913. He was sympathetic towards the demand for a separate state of Bihar, and it should have celebrated that history. The government and people both should have taken pride in it instead of renaming the historic place,” said Ashish Jha, a Patna resident, and an independent researcher.
Located midway between Patna railway station and the Bihar Secretariat, the place by late 80s to early 90s had faded, its flowers wilted, fountains dried up. It gained notoriety as a “den of anti-social activities” and people preferred to stay away from it.
Old-timers say that the plot of land opposite to it which was used to operate a bus terminal (from 1970s-2000s) made the situation worse with the filth and pollution it generated.
Stray cattle roaming the park had become a common sight.
Noted scholar Arvind Das in his book, ‘The State of Bihar: An economic history without footnotes’, had lamented the heritage park’s decay, saying, “The bus boom had many consequences. For starters, Patna’s magnificent Hardinge Park, with its fountains full of shimmering goldfish and beds brimming with glorious roses, dahlias, and chrysanthemums, was turned into a stinking adjunct to the ‘bus stand’.” Carving out of the province of ‘Bihar & 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.
The park was born out of and maintained by ‘Hardinge Memorial Fund’, which later became a trust. It fought an unsuccessful legal battle against the state government and was dissolved thereafter. The park is now directly under the Bihar government and maintained by the Environment and Forest Department.
(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)