The Soka Bodhi Tree Garden was envisaged by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda as a hub for peace-related activities around the world. Located 60 km southwest of New Delhi, in Haryana, it was inaugurated on September 12,1993, by Dr Yoichi Kawada, Director of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy.
In his message on the inauguration of the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden, President Ikeda said, “I am positive that from among those who will come to visit this garden in the future — when the Bodhi trees that are saplings now have grown tall and robust and are luxuriant with fresh green leaves — there will emerge great leaders. I am also confident that this Bodhi Tree Garden will become a training ground for capable people. It will be a place where leaders from various fields around the world will come to meet in order to cultivate and develop themselves, inspiring and stimulating each other’s growth… We hope that this garden will be the center of many cultural and educational activities. Let us think of 100 years, 200 years into the future, when huge Bodhi trees growing like a forest will embrace the many thousands who will come to the garden.”
The Soka Bodhi Tree Garden combines the architectural vision of Prof. Achyut P. Kanvinde, considered one of the forefathers of modern Indian architecture, and the landscaping mastery of Prof. Mohammad Shaheer, then head of the landscaping department at the School for Planning and Architecture in New Delhi.
Soka Bodhi Tree Garden has an open air theatre with a seating capacity of about 300 people, a world class auditorium with a capacity of more than 1000 people and sprawling Ikeda Friendship Centre which houses writings and pictures taken by President Ikeda and many important films showcasing the growth of Soka movement around the globe.
The biggest attraction at the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden is the World Peace Monument, which was inaugurated in January 2011, as a symbol of global peace movement spearheaded by President Ikeda.
The low-lying area near the auditorium was landscaped to provide space for recreational activities. The main walkway near the auditorium represents the flow of an undulating river, and a series of stepping stones, like a ghat on the banks of a river, leads the way down and across grassy knolls. Four pavilions — symbolizing the four elements earth, water, fire and air — with matching roof tiles and benches have been built in four zones to provide shelter from sun and rain. Stone benches in different shapes and formations dot the garden, giving visitors spaces to rest and admire the greenery.
The garden is home to about 4,000 Bodhi (peepal) trees, more than 100 peacocks and a large number of geese and rabbits. The aim is to plant 10,000 Bodhi trees in the garden.
Since 1995, BSG has been holding meetings, cultural festivals and training programs at the garden. In 2005, family festivals were organized, opening the garden to the families and guests of members for the first time.
Today the local community is well connected with the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden. Every year the mustard crop is donated to the local community. Villagers invest the income from the mustard crop for development, such as adding classrooms to the local school. Each year the local panchayat, on behalf of the community, presents a letter of appreciation to the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden for its support.