Monday 11 March 2013

When a hotel thrived in Lalbagh

Charles Darwin and his discoveries have been universally welcomed and Bangalore is no exception.
Even in his life time, people acknowledged his Origin of Species as a classic. It was in 1856 that he propounded his theory of evolution which won him world wide acclaim.
All over the world, countries and people raised memorials in the name of Darwin and his invention or rather discovery. Bangalore too was no exception and a memorial was constructed in his name and it was called Darwinia.
More importantly, the Darwania came to be constructed within the premises of Lalbagh, the premier botanical gardens of the times.
The building was constructed on the suggestion of  Hugh Cleghorn, Botanical Advisor to Sir Mark Cubbon, the then Chief Commissioner of Mysore State.
The Chief Commissioner had his residence in Bangalore then Lalbagh was the only big garden. The Cubbon Park had not yet come up and the Lalbagh was being lovingly nurtured by botanists.
Tipu had died just a little more than fifty years ago but the Labagh, a legacy of his and his illustrious father Hyder Ali, continued to flourish.     
It was at Lalbagh that the State’s first memorial to Darwin came up. The Darwinia housed the offices of the Bangalore garden  curators. In 1859, William New, the curator of Lalbagh Botanical gardens, set up his office, laboratory and library in Darwinia. The Darwinia remained so from 1859 to 1863 and again during the tenure of  A Black as its Curator from 1865 to 1873.
The Darwinia soon became the centre of all scientific botanical work carried out in Lalbagh. When New died in 1873, Lalbagh remained without a curator for some months till a Scotsman, John Cameron, a Kew trained botanist, took over.
In 1890, repaired and renovated the Darwinia. Four years later, Cameron shifted his office as Darwinia was too small to accommodate all his activities such as curator of  Government Museum and Curator of  other Gardens in Bangalore.
He then shifted his office to the more sprawling building that housed the office of the Assistant Curator Stephen. The Assistant Curator had been transferred to Nagpur and his office lay vacant.
Darwinia remained vacant till the advent of G. H. Krumbeigal, a German botanist.
Krumbeigal then suggested to the Government in 1915 that  Darwinia could be utilized as a small hotel or restaurant. He said the building was ideal and its two rooms could be put to use- one for the British and another for an Indian restaurant.
The government approved the proposal and two restaurants come up in Lalbagh. The hotel proved to be popular among tourists and even Bangaloreans. For almost half a century, the Darwinia became the most visited place in Lalbagh.
The hotel had an ambience and atmosphere that no other could boast of in India. Though its menu was limited, its surroundings were not. You name the tree, it was there. You could have coffee or tea sitting in the room and taking in the fresh air.
The area round Darwinia was carpeted with green and covered with lawns and shrubs. The arches around the building were covered with numerous vines creepers.
In no time, the hotel became popular with visitors and students alike. However, in 1957, the Government was told that the building was on the verge of collapse and that it needed full scale repairs. The hotel closed down in 1959 and the structure demolished. Today it is home to the famous Mughal Garden.
The Mughal garden was first raised in 1960 as a tribute to the centenary of Lalbagh.  Today, some of the arches scan still be seen in the garden and they were part of the famed Darwinia. Of the building, there is no trace. The hotel-it is gone but why cry when you have the MTR nearby.


  1. Cottage Nirvana is a Home Stay in Mukteshwar in complete sense. It not only provides comfortable holiday’s package for a family out for vacation but lets you enjoy activities like bird watching, organic farming, painting, astronomy etc. With thick trail of forests covering Mukteshwar, you get to experience a dense nature walk around Cottage Nirvana accommodation.

  2. Hello, this is a great post for travelers. Thanks for sharing this. :D I personally prefer to stay at the luxury hotels in bangalore.