Friday 22 March 2013

The ditch that became a park

This was a huge ditch that changed the way the Mysore Palace looked. The change occurred in the last month of the 19th Century and Mysore looked transformed from then on.
It is now spruced up and looks as ravishing as the Lalbagh and Cubbon Park of Bangalore. The only difference is that this is not as big as the two parks of Bangalore.
Today, it is known as the Curzon Park and it was commissioned by the Wodeyars, the rulers of Mysore, to commemorate the visit of Viceroy of British India Lord George Curzon.
Curzon was the Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905 and he visited Mysore in December 1900. The Wodeyars had the ditch in front of the Amba Vilas or main palace filled up and commissioned a garden.
They named it Curzon Park and it was opened in December 1900 to mark the first visit of the Viceroy. By then, the construction of the Amba Vilas Palace was underway for three years and its boundaries were being demarcated.
The vast open space in front of the palace was filled up with earth and the garden began taking shape. This plan to give the city a new garden started in the 1890s itself.
The ditch was actually a moat but by then there was no need for such a defensive mechanism. It goes to the credit of the Wodeyars and the City administration that they decided to put the moat to better use.
Lord Curzon came to Mysore on November 30, 1900, and toured the erstwhile Mysore State for 10 days. He visited Srirangapatna, Kakanakote, Bangalore and KGF. The red silk cotton tree (Kempu Boorugada Mara) in the park which is now a heritage tag was  planted by Curzon.
There are at least eight other trees in the open space which have survived the vagaries of Nature for more than 110 years. A huge neem tree here is also more than a century old.  Unfortunately, another equally old tree-a mango tree-which was near the bus stand, was felled.
Curzon Park become a riot of colours during Dassara when it plays host to the flower show. These shows are generally held for nine days from October 1 to October 9.
The park is spread over 7.5 acres and it has been renovated with ornamental plants, exotic flowers,  walking track, children's playground, cascading waterfalls and Bonsai exhibits.
So after a visit to the palace, enjoy a walk in the garden and look up the old trees.

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