Monday 25 March 2013

An oasis of green

This park, is the green lung of Bangalore and it is today nearly 150 years old. It is much bigger in area than the Lalbagh and it is ringed by a mass of concrete on all sides.
Though it is one of the finest parks of its kind, it is always accessible from its many entry points. Over the years, urbanization has eaten away at the park and it has been steadily reduced in extent.
However, the park has fought back the ravages of urbanization and its is today one of the best examples in India and even the world of a huge mass of green located and thriving right in a city centre.
Interestingly, the park is named after a person who never saw it in his lifetime. Infact, the very idea of the park germinated only nine years after the death of this person.
This park has been renamed thrice. It has been named twice after British officers and once after an Indian Maharaja. However, the first and third names have disappeared from public memory and the park is now better known from its second name.      
Sir Mark Cubbon was born on August 23, 1775 he joined as an officer of the East India Company. He became the British Commissioner of  Mysore State in 1834 and remained in this office till 1860. He was instrumental in moved the capital of Mysore State from Mysore to Bangalore and he also helped reform the finances of Mysore. He created a peaceful and prosperous Government.
Sir Cubbon is created with the construction of over one thousand miles of roads, hundreds of small dams and check dams, coffee production and improvement in the tax and revenue systems of Mysore State.
In 1859, when orders were issued to transfer the superintendence of Mysore affairs from the office of the Governor-General to the Government of Madras, Sir Cubbon resigned, saying that this was wrong and contrary to the declaration made by the Court of Directors in 1838. The order was withdrawn by the then Viceroy, Lord Canning 
Lord Cubbon died in Suez in Egypt on April 23, 1861 while returning to England in the company of his physician, Dr. Campbell.
Though the Cubbon Park is named after him, he never lived to either see it and plan it though the Internet has several articles attributing the development of the park to him.  
The man solely responsible to the laying out of the Cubbon Park is none other than Major Richard Sankey, the then Chef engineer of Mysore State.
The Cubbon Park was planned in 1870 and this was a good nine years after Sir Cubbon died. Initially, it covered an area of 100 acres (0.40 km2) and subsequent more areas were added to it and today its total extent is 300 acres (1.2 km2).
The park has a rich recorded history of flora and fauna and they merge aesthetically with the numerous impressive buildings in and around the park such as High Court, Vidhana Soudha, Government museum, Venkatappa Art Gallery, Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall, Vikasa Soudha, General Post office, Raj Bhavan, KGID Building, Press Club of Bangalore and other buildings.
When this park was first commissioned, it was named as  “Meade’s Park” after Sir John Meade, the acting Commissioner of Mysore in 1870. It was only subsequently renamed as Cubbon Park after the longest serving commissioner of the time, Sir Cubbon.
In 1927, this park was once again renamed. This was to commemorate the silver jubilee of Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar in 1927. It was then renamed as Sri Chamarajendra Park in memory of  Chamarajendra Wodeyar (1868 – 94), the ruler of Mysore, during whose rule the park came into existence.
Today, the park is still known by the name of Cubbon , while people have forgotten the other two names-Meade and Chamarajendra.
Like the Lalbagh, this park too is maintained by the Department of Horticulture. It has entrances from M G Road, Siddalingaiah Circle or Tiffany Circle, Hudson Circle, K R. Circle, Gopala Gowda Circle (in front of Vidhana Soudha) and Minsk Square.
Traffic is allowed on a few roads that crisscross the park and the lawn tennis building within the park, the High Court, GPO, Press Club, Horticulture Department offices hum with activity.
The landscaping in the park creatively integrates natural rock outcrops with thickets of trees, bamboo groves, grass and flowerbeds. The park has a joggers path, fountains, band stand, Bal Bhavan, children play area, amusement centre, museums and aquarium.
The park is home to 68 genres of botanical varieties, comprising d 96 species with 6000 plants, trees and shrubs. The indigenous species include artocarpus, cassia fistula, ficus and polyalthias  and exotic species such as araucaria, bamboo, castanospermum australe, grevillea robusta, millettia, peltophorum, schinus molle, swietenia mahagoni and tabebuia.
Several ornamental and flowering trees line the roads in the park such as Grevillea robusta (silver oak)—the first oaks introduced to Bangalore from Australia—and the delonix or the gulmohar tree (bright red flowers with long petals) along the Cubbon road in the park, which is a widely cultivated tropical ornamental tree around the world.
The avenue of araucarias along with Canna beds on either sides of the road from the public library to Hudson circle is a delight as is the  avenue of Swieteninas in the northern side of the park and  the Java fig avenue along the road leading to the Government Museum.
Polyalthia is planted along the avenue from Queen’s Statue to King Edward Statue and the chestnut tree avenue is from the statue of  Chamarajendra Wodeyar to Siddalingaiah Circle.
Other attractions include the Ringwood circle, lotus pond and bamboo grove nook. The High Court is one of the finest buildings in Bangalore and though admission is restricted, you can admire it from the park itself. You have to get a pass to High Court and Vidhana Soudha if you have to see the interiors

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