Saturday, September 12, 2009

The garden of royal origin

The garden of royal origin

Ponnu Elizabeth MathewFirst Published : 12 Sep 2009 09:44:04 AM ISTLast Updated : 12 Sep 2009 09:53:24 AM IST
BANGALORE: Two hundred and forty-nine years ago, Hyder Ali commissioned the building of a garden.
Enthused by an extensive Mughal style garden in Sira, Tumkur, the ruler of Mysore quenched his thirst for the want of one just like that, as his workforce put together a private garden for him. But it was only his son, Tipu Sultan who completed what his father had started and turned it into the 240-acre landscape legacy that you can now see, as it stands as a historical residue of the princely past of India .
Lalbagh Botanical Garden has a myriad of stories to recount - stories that revolve around those of the princely times, the British Raj and independent India, and stories that resonate the contributions by Major Waugh, Dr Wallich, William Munroe, Sir Mark Cubbon, Dr Cleghorn, Rao Bahadur, HC Javaraya, K Nanjappa, Dr MH Marigowda among a host of others. Beginning with Hyder Ali, through the British and now the Director of Horticulture, Lalbagh has seen many people who have played happy caretakers, making sure the place is still a haven for vetoing one’s worries away. And if the 240-acre garden still stands in all purity, peace and panache, then thanks to them.
Located in the south of Bangalore, the garden stands well protected with stone walls and four study gates, boasting of well-laid out roads, walking paths, open spaces and trees, apart from the Glass house, the bandstand, the pigeon house, the museum and cottage which now house some of the department offices, the deer paddock, the aquarium, the Kempegowda tower and the Lalbagh lake. The Glass House that stands amidst a host of champaka and cedar trees was inspired by the Crystal Palace of London and was conceptualised as the centre for horticultural shows by John Cameron, the Superintendent of the garden, in the 1870s.
It the glass house was created to commemorate the visit of the Prince of Wales, then it was only good that the Geological Survey of India decided to pay tribute to Kempe Gowda, the founder of Bangalore by erecting a monument in the garden. Atop the Lalbagh hill, boasting of 3,000 million year old peninsular Gneissic rocks, it stands on, one of the four cardinal towers erected by Kemepgowda II rules the horizon.
Today, nearly 673 genera and 1,854 species of plants are found in Lalbagh and as the gates open at 6 am, a trickle of morning joggers in a rhythmic manner grace the paths that dutifully snake around the 240-acre garden. We can perhaps never count the footfall that the garden has had since 1740, or estimate precisely, the footfall now. But what once can more than estimate is that the garden of royal origin only reaffirms the identify Bangalore has boasted of all these years - the garden city of India.


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