Mughal Gardens to open for public from Saturday, visitors must do advance online booking

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New Delhi, Feb 11 (PTI) With strict social distancing measures, a cap on the number of visitors and no on-the-spot entry, the famed Mughal Gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhawan will kickstart its annual 'Udyanotsav' amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

The iconic garden at the Rashtrapati Bhawan will be opened for public by President Ram Nath Kovind from February 13, Deputy Press Secretary to the President, Keerti Tiwari, announced on Thursday.

Visitors will be allowed in the sprawling garden, which boasts of thousands of flowers and plants, ranging from roses, daisies to lilies, throughout the week, barring Mondays.

Booking can be made on https://rashtrapatisachivalaya.gov.in or https://rb.nic.in/rbvisit/visit_plan.aspx, according to a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

There will seven slots from 10 am to 5 pm and 100 people will be allowed in each slot to maintain social distancing. Not more than five people will be allowed to stand at one place so that appropriate distancing can be maintained, it said.

Temperature checks will be done at the entry point of the garden and a person without a face mask will not be allowed to enter.

The statement said that as part of measures, visitors will not be allowed to bring items like bags, cameras, water bottles when they enter. Adequate arrangements for hand sanitisers, drinking water and toilets have been made, it said.

However, there is no restriction to access as people can visit all three parts of the garden - rectangular, long and circular - apart from the spiritual, herbal and bonsai gardens, according to the statement.

Tiwari said that people who are susceptible to diseases must avoid visiting the Mughal Gardens this year.

'It is a beautiful place where you can see a lot of varieties of flowers. The flora and fauna here is a sight to watch. In the time of coronavirus, I think looking at colourful flowers is the biggest hope that people can come across,' she said.

Tiwari said that the cap on the number of visitors was unavoidable due to the pandemic.

'It is going to be limited because we have to maintain and follow our social distancing norms. There will be 100 people per slot. That means everyday 700 people will visit these gardens. But this is something that we have to keep in mind because of the pandemic. We don't our visitors to face any problems,' she said.

'This is a huge area where 100 people can visit easily in one slot whilst maintaining social distancing. It is always better to open up than keep shut,' Tiwari added.

When asked whether there was a proposal to extend the number days for 'Udyanotsav', Tiwari said, 'The flowers that we showcase here are season oriented. Plus this is the time when we used to open up and this year also we have lived up to this tradition even in these challenging times.' Among the major attractions at the Mughal Garden will be different types of roses like 'American Heritage', 'First Prize', 'Kiss of Fire' and 'Double Delight', and bulbous flowers like 'Narcissus', 'Dahlia', 'Sparaxis', 'Ranunculus', 'Hyacianth' and 'Asiatic Lily'.

The visitors can also see some rare types of roses such as the 'Green Rose' with thin and long green petals, 'Oklahoma' and 'Bonne Nuit' with their almost black texture, and 'Blue Moon' and 'Lady X' with a definite blue hue.

The garden is also adorned with multi-coloured pansies and Alyssum flowering plants.

Visitors can enter Mughal Garden from gate number 35 of the President's Estate which is close to North Avenue. PTI AKV RB RB ANB ANB