Tuesday 2 April 2013

Not Lalbagh, but yet a garden

The world knows Lalbagh as a botanical garden. If almost every Bangalorean has been to Lalbagh at least once in his lifetime, no visitor would dare to leave the Garden City without visiting Lalbagh.
Tourist broachers and tour operators term Lalbagh the only botanical garden in Bangalore and one of the few in Karnataka. What they do not know and even Bangaloreans do not know is that the city is home to another beautiful and sprawling botanical garden.
This garden is not at all known outside its campus and visitors are far and few. Even Bangaloreans are not aware of its existence even though the botanical garden became the bone of contention between the Bruhut Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the institution in which it located. The matters even reached the portals of the Karnataka High Court.
This is the botanical garden in the vast GKVK campus on Bangalore-Bellary road.  
The botanical garden is one of the best of its kind in India and it has among the finest and best germplasm collection in the world.   The botanical garden is located over 100 acres at the GKVK Campus.
Though the garden established during 1975, it has so far remained a hidden gem. The university authorities have planned the garden meticulously and the green has been organised into different sections representing various plant families.
The Garden is supported by a well-developed Herbaria which is attended to by a full-time curator. What makes this garden unique is that it is being regularly updated with collections from all over the State, including the bio-diversity hotspot of  the Western Ghats.
The garden is unique in the sense that it is an open air laboratory for students and researchers at GKVK. Several ad-hoc research programmes have been in operation here. The garden thus has imparted education to both students and researchers.
Apart from students, several departments of GKVK use the Garden facilities to impart practical taxonomic knowledge to the students. The research students find the garden an important source of material which  otherwise is not easily accessible.
The botanical garden was planned and developed by Dr R. Narayana, the then Director of Instruction, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities (BS&H), UAS, GKVK. It initially started  out of academic interest.
Dr. Narayana’s aim was to introduce indigenous trees, shrubs and woody climbers from various forests of Karnataka and also exotic species. Dr Boraiah and the late Dr G.P. Sathyavathi, the former Heads of the Department of Botany and all the other staff members of the Department of Botany, College of BS&H, have collected, introduced and maintained plants in the garden.
When the garden was started in 1971, its area was divided into ten blocks with paths and walkways. Today, enjoy the exotic trees such as Ficus religiosa, Azadirachta indica, Cocos nucifera, Areca catechu, Artocarpus heterophyllus, Plumeria alba, Guazuma tomentosa, Dendrocalamus brandisii, Bauhinia purpurea and Michelia chapaca.
The area surrounding the garden was a tropical scrubby forest with Azadirachta indica, Ailanthus excelsa, Anacardium occidentale, Albizzia lebbek, Artabotrys odoratissima, Tamarindus indica, Pongamia pinnata, Hardwickia binata, Cassia siamea, Caesalpinnia coriaria, Terminalia arjuna, Eucalyptus citriodora, E. hybrida, E. malaccensis, Bridelia roxburghiana and Casuarina equisetifolia that were planted by the Forest Department of the State Government before the area was handed over to the University. Even now, they are the conspicous flora in the garden.  Other dominant trees species found here are Limonia acidissia, Zizyphus mauritiana, Z. xylopyrus, Albizzia amara, Cassia fistula, Bauhinia racemosa, Butea monosperma, Wrightia tinctoria, Santalum album, Streblus asper, Holoptelia integrifolia.
The shrub species includes Cadaba fruticosa, Capparis spinosa, Flacourtia indica, Erythroxylon monogynum, Cipadessa baccifera, Dodonea viscosa, Cassia auriculata, Randia uliginosa, Canthium parviflorum, Pavetta indica, Jasminun rigidum, Gmelina asiatica, Lantana camara, Breynia retusa and B. rhamnoides.
The woody climbers include Toddalia asiatica, Scutia circumcissa, Zizyphus oenoplia, Pterolobium hexapetalum, Carissa congesta, Ichnocarpus frutescens, Tylophora cordifolia, Gymnema sylvestre, Argyreia speciosa, Lettsonia aggregata and Plecospermum spinosum.
The families in the garden are laid out according to Bentham and Hooker's system. Block A1is earmarked for Medicinal Plants, Block A2 starts with Ranunculaceae and Block A10 has Monocots and Gymnosperms. The total number of plant species are a staggering 600.
The Herbarium has 3,000 species. Nearby is the Sanjeevini Vana, a garden exclusively devoted to the maintenance of medicinal and aromatic plants.
The Vana is maintained by the Division of Horticulture and is one of the few such gardens in the state. More than 300 different plant species can be seen here along with information on their occurrence, distribution, propagation and medicinal use.
The Government of India supported a project in the garden called “Ex situ Conservation and multiplication of rare, threatened, endangered and endemic plants of South India” in 1996-1997 to provide basic facilities such as a greenhouse, pond environment and other equipment.
There is an entrance fee for visitors who have to take prior permission from the GKVK authorities.

1 comment:

  1. This place is really a place for inspiration. Lalbagh Botanical Garden in Bangalore is an internationally renowned centre for botanical artwork, scientific study of plants and also conservation of plants. Check out timings, entry fee, best time to visit, all details of Lal Bagh Botanical Garden also.