Friday 4 October 2013

The college that never materialised

All of us known that Lalbagh in Bangalore was begun by Hyder Ali and developed by Tipu Sultan. We also know that it was subsequently taken over by the British who raised it into one of the most important botanical gardens in India.
Lalbagh is home to a number of exotic tress, plants and shrubs.  But not many know that the buildings in Lalbagh too have a history of their own and today, they stand as mute spectators to the vast throngs that visit he garden, oblivious to the standing history of the botanical gardens.
Lalbagh is currently managed by the Directorate of Horticulture, Government of Karnataka. The directorate operated from a red building in front of the office of the Director of Horticulture, Karnataka.
This building has a history of its own. It was built in 1920 when Gustav Hermann Krumbiegal (1865-1956) was Director of Horticulture. He  had an ambitious plan of building a horticulture college on the Lalbagh premises.
Krumbiegel, a German botanist and garden designer, spent years dedicating his life and service to the development of Lalbagh. He had also plans of constructing tree lined avenues in Bangalore which would host a variety of plants and shrubs.
Krumbiegel was born in Lohmen near Dresden in Germany and he trained as a horticulturist. In 1884,  he worked in Schwerin and from 1885 to 1887 he worked as a landscape gardener in Hamburg. In 1888, he moved to England, designing flower beds at the Hyde Park and joined the staff at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew. He then came to India and in 1893 was the Curator of the Botanical Garden in Princely  Baroda. He then was with the Government Botanical Garden in Ooty.
It was in 1908 that the reigning Wodeyar monarch, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the ruler of Mysore, sought his services and persuaded him to succeed John Cameron as economic botanist and superintendent of Lalbagh.
Krumbiegel was solely responsible for introducing numerous plants in Lalbagh. He was also closely associated with the Mysore Horticultural Society that was started in 1912. Although a keen botanist, he was also a well-known architect. Noting his expertise, the then Dewan of Mysore appointed him as an architectural consultant despite protests from the British Resident in Mysore. During the Second World War, Germans in India were declared as enemies and Krumbiegel was along with other Germans kept in an internment camp in Bangalore.
His plan of starting a horticulture college was first shot down by the British and then by the Karnataka Government. Krumbeigal had conceived the red structure as part of the college.
He wanted the college in Lalbagh as he thought such an institution could provide both students and researchers with materials on hand and at short notice. He also saw that the college could become one of its kind in the world as it would be located amidst rare plants, shrubs, trees and seeds.
Since Lalbagh was a botanical garden, he thought a college on horticulture would be ideal. He even prepared designs for the college but since the plan was never accepted, it was destroyed.
Today, it is this very red structure that serves as the office for the Director of Horticulture.
The College of Horticulture did come and it was the first in India but it was not on Lalbagh.
By the way, horticulture accounts for 40 per cent of Karnataka’s  income that is generated from the combined agriculture sector. This state also boasts of the largest area under flower crop cultivation and ranks third in the production of the same across India. In addition, Karnataka is the largest producer of spices, aromatic and medicinal crops.
Karnataka was the first state to have a horticulture department in India and that it was established in 1963.
Coming back to Krumbeigal, he served Karnataka for 25 years and retired in the year 1932. After his retirement, he settled at Bangalore and worked as the Landscape Advisor to the state of Mysore, till his death in 1956.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Samyuktha Harshitha

    Iam working on Mr.Krumbiegel project, i would like to meet you.

    With regards