The gorgeously restored Garden of Dreams (Swapna Bagaicha) is one of the most tranquil and splendid retreats that hide within Kathmandu valley. While it might just be a two-minute walk away from central Thamel, but the quaint walls it hides behind makes it feel like it is a million miles away.
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History of Garden of Dreams
Situated in the midst of Kathmandu city in Nepal, Garden of Dreams is a neoclassical historical garden. While previously it had acquired the name, "The Garden of Six Seasons", now the name has been changed to Garden of Dreams. It was created in early 1920 by late Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana.
When this garden was completed, it was considered as one of the most refined private gardens of that time. Designed in the famous Edwardian style, this dazzling garden was the private garden of Kaiser Sumsher. A prominent architecture of that time, Kishore Narshingh who had in 1907 designed and constructed Singha Durbar was the designer and supervisor during the construction of this garden.
Within the garden walls, exquisite fountains, groups of pavilions, decorative garden furniture have been constructed and put in. The verandas, urns, birdhouses, pergolas, and balustrades have European inspired features. Kishore Narshingh dedicated each pavilion to six seasons of Nepal, hence he constructed six splendid pavilions.
The six seasons he considered are Spring (Basanta), early summer (Grishma), summer monsoon season (Barkha), early autumn (Sharad), late autumn (Hemanta) and winter (Shishir). These pavilions tied together with the garden's look and also provided architectural support to it. It also adds a sophisticated look to the floral arrangements, bushes, shrubs, and trees. Only half of the garden is in existence today.
The garden was given over to the Government of Nepal after the death of Kaiser Sumsher but it was not properly taken care of for decades. The garden has been revived as per the original concept with added with contemporary equipment after seven years of extensive refurbishment. Now it has become a source of peace and calm from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu city. With the three pavilions, central ponds, amphitheater, urns and a combination of all the larger and smaller gardens, the size of the Garden of Dreams is 6895 sq. meters.
The refurbishment of the Garden of Dreams was funded by the Australian government and the implementation of the project was done by Eco Himal. This project has become a rather significant site, whose restoration has brought great aesthetic, commercial and ecological benefits. The quality of life for both tourists and citizens of central Kathmandu has been enhanced by the Garden of Dreams.
During the 2000 to 2007 time period, the Garden of Dreams was restored in cooperation with the Australian Government. Now the garden has become an oasis with its calm and peaceful environment full of varieties of flora and fauna brought from different countries paired with its exceptional architecture. Garden of Dreams has proved that we can reconstruct palaces and monuments which have lain dormant for years as tourist junctions. It has, as a matter of fact, laid the foundation for the renovation of lost and forgotten architectural icons.
Garden of Dreams has managed to dazzle its visitors ever since its reopening. Garden of dreams revives and refreshes the mind, body, and soul of people who enter it with its atmosphere and decorum. Garden of Dreams is now considered as one of the most peaceful and calm places in Kathmandu and its beauty is an added bonus. It is also an important tourist landmark which has a natural library which visitors can benefit from. Classical concerts, cultural programs, receptions, and corporate functions are also welcomed by the Garden of Dreams.
Inside the Garden of Dreams
Six pavilions honoring the six Nepali seasons stand inside the garden. In the garden, there are plenty of benches and seats where you can sit, relax and hang out. You can also curl up on the green lawn, with a good book. The garden is usually filled with more Nepali visitors than tourists and usually has friends who are there for an outing or couples looking for some seclusion. The garden holds many secrets and stories. The gardens have been well-tended in 2018 and 2019 so it has added to the appeal of the compound.
If you manage to take a mat or a picnic blanket to place on the ground, you can sit on it and have a little picnic of your own. But do not litter. In the Kaiser cafe, you can order a coffee or a meal. You can also visit the tiny museum if it’s open and the Kaiser gallery or if you don't feel like doing much, you can just sit under the shade of one of the pavilions. Ice creams and cakes can be found in the Barkha bar while exclusive Himalayan tea is served in the Tea Salon.
The price of the ticket for tourists is Rs. 400 and Rs. 150 for Nepali citizens. You also have the option to purchase a yearly membership card, which offers a 10% discount at the Kaiser Cafe, minimal parking fees and year-round entrance to the garden. Membership fees for foreigners are Rs. 5000 while the fee for Nepali nationals is Rs. 3000. There is also a 25% discount on the purchase of 10 or more tickets.
Garden of Dreams is located in Kaiser Mahal in Thamel. It is on the opposite side of Fire and Ice Restaurant and lies on the junction between Thamel and Kantipath.
The opening hours at Garden of Dreams are 9 am-10 pm and the last entry is at 9 pm. Although just a footstep away from Thamel, this little garden takes you away from all the traffic, pollution, noise and stress of Kathmandu city.
How to get to Garden of Dreams
You can get a taxi from the airport that will directly drop you off at Garden of Dreams or you can take the bus which will drop you off at Ratnapark Bus Stop from where the garden is a mere 20-minute stroll away.