I leave my backpack at the hotel in Patiala and board a bus on its way to Sangrur. What is at Sangrur? I have read that the Baradari Garden here is worth a visit. I have not much hope for gardens in India but its time to give them one more chance to redeem themselves.
On the bus I chat with Rajiv sitting next to me. Rajiv is a central government employee in a clerical position.
‘I don’t like this job. I have worked in Jammu, Agra, Mathura and Delhi. Punjab is the only place where I am confortable. Tea in Delhi is like medicine,’ he comments. ‘There is talk that I may get transferred to Tamil Nadu. I am trying for another job with the state government.’
‘Is the pay better?’
‘Not really but with the state government I will not be transferred out of Punjab. That’s the good thing.’
‘What about a private job?’
‘Never. Government job is always better even if the pay is low. No worries.’
We arrive at Sangrur. Rajiv walks with me and shows me a shortcut to the Baradari Gardens. With trees, walking paths and some flower beds nothing here takes gardening to a level of art. If there is anything here to impress me, its the marble monument in the center. I approach it by a bridge that spans a water channel below. A verandah with beautiful cusped arches surround it on all sides. Many doorways lead into the inner space. Cusped frames over these rectangular doorways follow the scheme of the cusped arches of the verandah.
The columns and pilasters of this monument are beautiful thanks to the white marble medium. Sadly, there is much graffiti on the walls. Jali work is seen on some arches and on the low parapet. Octogonal domed kiosks decorate the corners but some of the domes are missing. Semi-circular terraces on the east and west are emphasized by semi-circular channels on ground level. The chhajjas and brackets are strangely not in marble. They are of rusting iron. Singularly they spoil the overall look of the monument. The entrance to the garden at the north side has a bangla roof with reliefs of peacock and elephants and sculptures of lion and dwarapalakas.
I see lots of people heading towards town. For a Sunday, Sangrur seems to be unusually busy. I enquire and learn that there is an International Kabaddi Tournament this afternoon. That sounds fun. I have rotis for lunch, buy a bottle of water and walk to the venue. Security is tight. There is a festive atmosphere. Vendors are making brisk business. Plastic bottles have been thrown all about the entrances.
‘You cannot take bags inside. Water not allowed,’ tells me a policeman at the entrance.
‘But I have nowhere to leave my stuff. I have to take them inside,’ I make an appeal.
He will have none of it. Even bringing his superiors to the discussion does not help. Disappointed and left with nothing more to see in Sangrur, I take a bus and return to Patiala.