Thursday, October 30, 2008

Now, Lalbagh has a problem of plenty

Now, Lalbagh has a problem of plenty
With Over 6,000 Visiting The Sprawling Garden Every Day, Its Facilities Are Being Stretched

Bangalore: Has Lalbagh reached a saturation point in number of visitors streaming in every day? While around 6,000 people come into the botanical garderns every day, over 10,000 people visit on weekends and festivals.
While shopping malls and multiplexes get their share of people with time to kill and money to spend, this sprawling garden is still the place to go for many simply because it has a precious attraction — fresh air. Horticultural officials told TOI: “While many frequent Lalbagh for jogging and other activities to keep healthy, others visit Lalbagh to enjoy the serenity. We see a crowd of at least 6,000 every day and over 10,000 on weekends and festivals.”
During summer, these numbers increase with inflow of tourists and locals seeking a cool spot to beat the heat. The garden is perhaps the only large green space, other than the Cubbon Park, in the city. While no one is asking people not to come to the garden, there is an element of worry: “The number of visitors has already reached saturation point and more visitors could ruin the serenity of the place,” |J K Vasanth Kumar, director of horticulture at Lalbagh, told TOI.
While a few residential areas do have facilities for jogging in the form of stadiums and clubs, large parts of Bangalore do not have green, serene environments that allow for relaxation. For instance, other than the small walking tracks in compact parks in residential areas, there are no spacious jogging tracks in many parts of North Bangalore. Most people prefer to drive to Lalbagh, jog for a while and go back home or head to the office.
Areas like Sarjapur or even closer to Koramangala too do not have such a large green facility. Marathahalli and surrounding areas are full of construction sites and buildings. Except for Cubbon Park for residents of central Bangalore, there is no other lung space. Many office-goers from areas in these directions do make it to Lalbagh early morning as there is not much traffic.
Why do people want to come so badly to Lalbagh to the extent they are prepared to drive a few kilometres? Sudha, teacher and frequent jogger, says: “If I’ve to get a long, spacious and at the same a green and fresh environment, small parks won’t do. Lalbagh gives you room to jog long distances and then to exercise and relax.”
Sreedhar, an executive and jogger, observes: “While small parks are a welcome addition to many residential areas in the city, they are good for quick walks and maybe sitting for a while. But if you want to do long walks with greenery around and not like to hit the road for this, Lalbagh is really the best option.”
Anuradha, a student, agrees: “If there is another Lalbagh, let’s say near Mysore Road, many people would prefer to go there. Most people around Basavanagudi, Gandhi Bazaar and Chamarajpet as well as Jayanagar have nowhere else to go.”
Most people, elders and middle-aged, agree the city should go in for similar green spaces in four corners for the convenience of residents. “That will reduce number of visitors coming into Lalbagh, either to jog or to relax,” adds Anuradha.
While regulating entry is not an option, officials can only take measures to improve facilities. “Though there may be many visitors, we don’t stop taking measures for the betterment of the park,” say officials. Maintainence staff work until late night to ensure a clean environment for visitors. Also, addditional staff are appointed during special occasions such as the flower shows and festivals to ensure that the place is clean.
Several changes are on the anvil and these include improving the aquarium, an audio-visual room to give tourists the history of Lalbagh and even laser falls. Lalbagh is also introducing new varieties of plants. A new jogger track from West Gate to South Gate is also planned.
Even as park authorities cope with the problems of more visitors, people could perhaps help by not littering and helping keep the place clean.


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