Lalbagh Botanical Gardens or Lalbagh is an old botanical garden in Bengaluru, India. First planned and laid out during the rule of Hyder Ali and later adorned with unique plant species by his son Tipu Sultan, it was later managed under numerous British Superintendents before Indian Independence. It was responsible for the introduction and propagation of numerous ornamental plants as well as those of economic value. It also served a social function as a park and recreational space, with a central glass house dating from 1890 which was used for flower shows. In modern times it hosts two flower shows coinciding with the week of Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August). As an urban green space along with Cubbon Park, it is also home to numerous wild species of birds and other wildlife. The garden also has a lake adjoining a large rock on which a watchtower had been constructed during the reign of Kempegowda II.
The Lalbagh Glass House in the Botanical Garden
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Hyder Ali commissioned the building of this garden in 1760 but his son, Tipu Sultan, completed it. A Bagh is Hindustani for garden while the reference of the prefix Lal is debated and could refer to the colour red due to its original floral composition but Lal also means "beloved". Hyder Ali decided to create this garden on the lines of the Mughal Gardens that were gaining popularity during his time. Hyder Ali laid out these famous botanical gardens and his son Tipu Sultan added horticultural wealth to them by importing trees and plants from several countries. Hyder and Tipu's Lalbagh gardens were managed by Mohammed Ali and his son Abdul Khader and were based on design of the Mughal Gardens that once stood at Sira, at a distance of 120 km from Bangalore. At that time, Sira was the headquarters of the strategically important southernmost Mughal "suba" (province) of the Deccan before the British Raj.The Lalbagh gardens were commissioned by the 18th century and over the years it acquired India's first lawn-clock and the subcontinent's largest collection of rare plants. After the British conquest of Mysore in 1799, the garden was under the charge of Major Gilbert Waugh, Company paymaster and in 1814 its control was transferred to the Government of Mysore with an appeal by Waugh to the Marquis of Hastings that it should be under the botanical garden at Fort William, Caclutta. This was accepted and the charge for supervision was given to Nathaniel Wallich on 24 April 1819. This continued until 1831 when charge moved to the Mysore Commissioner. An Agricultural and Horticultural Society had been formed with William Munro, an army officer and amateur botanist in charge of the Bangalore chapter. The Society wrote to the Mysore Commisioner, Sir Mark Cubbon, requesting charge of the Lalbagh garden. Cubbon granted control and during this period it was used for horticultural training. The Bangalore chapter of the Society was dissolved in 1842, leaving the gardens unmanaged. In 1855, Hugh Cleghorn, was appointed as a botanical advisor to the Commissioner of Mysore. Cleghorn and Jaffrey, superintendent of the Madras Agri-Horticultural Society looked at various sites for a horticultural garden and found that Lalbagh suited their purpose despite being located at a distance from the Cantonment, the British centre of the city. He suggested that a European Superintendent be appointed with control under the Chief Commissioner. Cleghorn was against the use of Lalbagh for commercial enterprise and instead suggested that it should aim to improve the use of indigenous plants, aid in introducing useful exotic species and help in the exchange of plant and seed materials with other gardens at Madras, Calcutta and Ooty. Under Cubbon's orders, Lalbagh was made into the Government Botanical Garden in August 1856 and a professional horticulturist was sought from Kew. William New was recommended and he arrived at Bangalore on 10 April 1858. New's contract ended in 1863-64 and he was replaced by Allan Adamson Black who worked at the Kew Herbarium. Black however suffered from poor health and resigned in 1865 and died after visiting his brother in Rangoon aboard HMS Dalhousie, off the Coco Islands on 4th December 1865. New was then re-appointed. In his 1861 catalogue of the plants of Lalbagh, there were numerous economic and ornamental plants including Cinchona, coffee, tea, macadamia nuts, hickory, pecan, rhododendrons, camellias, and bougainvilleas. New died in 1873 and was followed by John Cameron, also from Kew. Cameron had the additional support of the Maharaja of Mysore who was appointed in 1881 and introductions included Araucarias (A. cookii and A. bidwilli), cypresses (Cupressus sempervirens), topiaries made from Hamelia patens. In 1890-91, a central bandstand and the glasshouse (for flowershows) made with iron pillars cast by Walter Macfarlane and Company of Glasgow were added. Cameron also helped introduce commercial crops like cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, radish, rhubarb, celery, and kohlrabi. Trees introduced included the babobab from Africa, Brownea rosea from the Caribbean, and Catha edulis from Yemen. Cameron retired in 1908 and was followed by Gustav Herman Krumbiegel. A menagerie established by Krumbiegel in the 1860s in 1914. Captain S.S.Flower reported that it included a court built between 1850 and 1860 having tigers and rhinoceros; an aviary; a monkey house with an orangutan; a paddock with blackbuck, chital, Sambar deer, barking deer, and a pair of emus; a bear house and a peacock enclosure.
In 1874, Lalbagh had an area of 45 acres (180,000 m2). In 1889, 30 acres were added to the eastern side, followed by 13 acres in 1891 including the rock with Kempegowda tower and 94 acres more in 1894 on the eastern side just below the rock bringing it to a total of 188 acres (760,000 m2). The foundation stone for the Glass House, modeled on London's Crystal Palace was laid on 30 November 1889 by Prince Albert Victor and was built during the time of John Cameron. It was built with cast iron from the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow UK. This structure was extended in 1935, this time with steel from the Mysore Iron and Steel Company at Bhadravathi.
Lalbagh is a 240 acres (0.97 km2) garden and is located in south Bengaluru. It holds two flower shows and has over 1,000 species of plants with many trees that are more than a hundred years old.
The garden adjoins one of the towers erected by the founder of Bengaluru, Kempe Gowda. The park has some rare species of plants brought from Persia, Afghanistan and France. With an intricate watering system for irrigation, this garden is aesthetically designed, with lawns, flowerbeds, lotus pools and fountains. Most of the centuries-old trees are labelled for easy identification. The Lalbagh Rock, one of the most ancient rock formations on earth, dating back to 3,000 million years, is another attraction that attracts the crowds.
Lalbagh has four gates The western gate is situated near Siddapura Circle and one can enter this gate and enjoy the sylvan atmosphere of the garden. The north western wall adjoins Krumbiegal Road named after G.H. Krumbiegal, the last pre-Independence Superintendent.
The eastern gate has a wide road with Jayanagar close by. The southern gate is often referred to as a small gate and opens near Ashoka pillar. The northern gate is a fairly wide and big road leading to the Glass House and serves as the primary entrance.
Tourism and eco-developmentEdit
Flower shows are conducted every year during the week of Republic day and Independence day, to educate people about the variety of flora and develop public interest in plant conservation and cultivation.
The Government of Karnataka organises "Janapada Jaatre" in Lalbagh on the second and fourth weekends (both Saturday and Sunday) of every month. Janapada Jaatre, which translates to Folk Fair, features folk dance, music and plays performed by troupes from all parts of Karnataka. The show mainly depicts the cultural folklore of Karnataka, the traditional costumes and musical instruments.
A geological monument for the peninsular gneiss formation is also a tourist attraction at the gardens. This monument has been designated by the Geological Survey of India on the Lalbagh hill which is made up of 3,000 million-year-old peninsular gneissic rocks. One of the four cardinal towers erected by Kempegowda II, also a major tourist attraction, is seen above this hillock. This tower gives the full view of Bangalore from the top.
Lalbagh management and public protestsEdit
The Lalbagh botanical gardens is managed by the Department of Horticulture and is no longer maintained as a botanical garden and is not a member of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International. With an increasing pressure to serve as a park and social space, much of the garden has been converted into walking paths and lawns. Many tree have been trimmed or cut down to make way for public amenities or due to perceptions that falling branches may threaten visitors. A part of the garden was taken over and many trees cut down amid protests for construction of the Lalbagh Metro Station as part of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. Entry fees of INR 25 with a camera fee of INR 60 have also been a point of contention. There have been repeated proposals to build various recreational amenities such as rock gardens, fountains and boating facilities. Some of these proposals of the management have been halted in the past due protests from enlightened public who have pointed out the impacts these have on the environment.
Lalbagh is well-connected by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses from Kempegowda Bus Station/Shivaji Nagar. All buses towards Jayanagar/Banashankari areas pass through one of the four gates of Lalbagh.
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- "History of Lalbagh Botanical Garden". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
- "Death". Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette. 23 January 1866. p. 3.
- Cameron, John (1891). Catalogue of plants in the Botanical Garden, Bangalore and its vicinity (2 ed.). Bangalore: Government Press.
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- Flower, S.S. (1914). Report on a Zoological mission to India. Cairo: Government Press. pp. 40–41.
- Vinoda, K. (1989) The Lalbagh - A history 1760-1932. Department of History, Bangalore University.
- "A jewel in Lalbagh's crown". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- Suresh Singh, Kumar (2003). People of India: Karnataka Vol. xxvi. Affiliated East-West Press (Pvt.) Ltd. ISBN 978-8-1859-3898-1.
- "Department of Horticulture, Bangalore". Retrieved 20 August 2015.
- Bowe, Patrick (2002) Charles Maries: Garden Superintendent to Two Indian Maharajas. Garden History 30(1):84-94
- "Lal Bagh Flower Show 2008 Ticket Booking". Retrieved 1 March 2009.
- "Lalbagh Botanical Garden Info".
- "Peninsular Gneiss". Geological Survey of India. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
- National Geological Monuments, pages 96, Peninsular Gneiss, page29-32. Geological Survey of India,27, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Kolkata-700016. 2001. ISSN 0254-0436.
- Lalbagh Botanical Garden
- Tree felling in Lalbagh. August 7, 2010. Deccan Herald.
- Entry, parking fees at Lalbagh set to go up. 8 October 2018. The Hindu.
- Making Lalbagh see green. 21 July 2014. Times of India.