Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ikebana expert has a rocking idea for Lalbagh

Ikebana expert has a rocking idea for Lalbagh

There is plenty of rock in the garden that can be put to good use, she says

Shilpa CB. Bangalore



Lalbagh is at a crossroads again. More trees instead of the proposed rock garden, food court, and laser show, say walkers. More trees and a beautiful Japanese-style rock garden, says Leela Rajkumar, the woman who would be heading the project if it is given the go-ahead.
It has been the long-cherished dream to showcase this "one-of-its-kind-in-the-world single-piece rock" for this teacher of Ikebana who holds a Rigi (highest degree from the Sogetru School of Ikebana, Tokyo). "The idea is to show the national wealth that we have. Everyone sees the rock in the front. But how many of us have seen it in its entirety? When I first went near it, it took my breath away," says Rajkumar, who is no stranger to the beauty of this botanical garden.
The rock is in a deplorable state; wilderness has taken over, none can walk around it to appreciate its uniqueness, she says. There is plenty of rock around the garden, near the parking lot, that people are not even aware of, she says pointing at the natural setting that inspired her decades ago.
The artiste's plan is to create pathways, clean the rock and present it to the world. "People don't go near it as it is unapproachable. I want to make it accessible," she says.
Not a pebble or an inch of the rock will be disturbed, says Rajkumar who has been trained by a "world-renowned expert Sofu Theshigahara." Rajkumar gives a backgrounder to the giant rock that has fascinated her enough to persist for nearly quarter of a century. "The rock was given away for quarrying. It was Kengal Hanumanthaiah who put a stop to it. This activity created a huge crevice in it and it is here that we plan to create a waterfall. We won't make a dent in it but enhance what is already there," she says.
Vouching for her expertise, the Ikebana expert who has been teaching since 1967, says, "I have been trained extensively in every aspect - the science of moving rocks, moving soil, moving plants… I can do it all myself without directions from gardeners."
Part of her grand plan for the lung space is also a small area where children can come and learn about nature. She also wants to create a small birds' play area. As this would draw tourists who will spend hours in the premises, a small eating area, and bathrooms will also be built without disturbing the sanctity of the place.
If done phase-wise, the work will take three years. If done simultaneously, it could be completed in two years. The rock garden alone will cost Rs29 crore. Together, the entire project might come up to about Rs53 crore.
Born in Nanjangoud and bred in Devanahalli, the Bangalorean moved to Mumbai in 1957 when she got married. "Now I am 98% back. I have closed down all my businesses just so I can be here and do this work," she says.

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