Why did ancient India have parks?

It seems like every few suttas starts off by mentioning a park the Buddha was staying in.

Why did ancient India have parks?

My guess is that the word translated into “park” belongs to a different concept than the modern concept for a “park” – a bit of natural or green space set aside from urbanization.

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They were probably refuges for animals, like the Squirrel Sanctuary at Rajagaha, and the Deer Sanctuary at Isipatana. Even though India’s forests at that time must have been vast, the effect of poor villagers who depend on them for sustenance and scour them for anything edible is not to be underestimated, as seen in Asia to this day.

" Ashoka (304-232 BCE) also abolished the royal hunting of animals and restricted the slaying of animals for food in the royal residence.[180] Because he banned hunting, created many veterinary clinics and eliminated meat eating on many holidays, the Mauryan Empire under Ashoka has been described as “one of the very few instances in world history of a government treating its animals as citizens who are as deserving of its protection as the human residents”.[181]"—Wikipedia

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@paul1 Ah, thank you. “game preserve” makes much more sense in the context of the suttas and ancient India.

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We often hear about a king sending his people to go clean up the park so he can hang out there. So I imagine they were more than just forest set-asides or game preserves.

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