A memorial no more: Jallianwallah Bagh or recreational park

Conservation and Development

A hundred years on can Landscape architecture embody the emotions of a historic event that changed the course of history of a nation fighting for independence?

The Jallinawallah Bagh witnessed a massacre of ……Indians gathered for a peaceful demonstration on Baisakhi, the day of the annual harvest festival celebrated with fervour in this part of the country. Without warning, in what has gone down in history as a massacre ringing the end of colonial rule, troops marched through a narrow alley and rained bullets over a crowd of men, women and children. The large enclosed court was at the time at a lower level than its entrance where the gun wielding soldiers aimed from thereby making the crown an easy target from their vantage point. The space sat within a larger sacred landscape of the Golden Temple and tank, the holy pilgrimage of the Sikh community. In 1919, a landscape that was imbued with spirituality for centuries was in moments the site of a carnage.

Today this space sits within a concentrated tourist district. The town has grown outward as well as densified inward. The Sikh temple, the market place, the museums and the town of Amritsar receive 15 million tourists per year. Amidst this fervour and colour and chaos should lie this desolate space, an enclosed court with scores of tenements overlooking these 6 acres.

The landscape instead is designed as a park, the lawns, lush planting and sandstone memorials intended to pay homage to the martyrs have resulted in a fragmented space with little or no. People carry picnic baskets. There being no park in this dense inner-city landscape, this one is treated like a pause point in the days shopping and visit to the temple.

Through this paper we address how landscape architecture can appropriately balance the current needs of a bustling city, the aspirations of the residents overlooking this large space who do not wish to be reminded of the event, balancing this with the narrative of a space that was a mute witness to a dark history. Landscape Architecture should have been the voice of that space sharing the events of the moment over the last 100 years.