Saturday 16 November 2013

When Rice saw Lalbagh

No visit to Bangalore would be complete without walking around Lalbagh, India’s most famous botanical garden. But did you know that this was almost precisely the same words that BL Rice (1837-1927) wrote when he visited Bangalore and wrote the gazetteer.
Rice was in Bangalore to compile facts for his gazette. He went around the city and he has given us a detailed description of Bangalore and its environs.
He says horticulture in the State and Bangalore in particular received a boost with the establishment of the Agri-Horticultural society in Bangalore in 1839.
Horticulture received a further boost when Lalbagh was declared as a horticultural and botanical garden in 1856.
Rice says the Lalbagh helped growers and horticulturists of Bangalore make a profitable living.
The Lalbagh inspired many Indian and European growers and farmers to take up horticulture and floriculture. Both the Lalbagh and growers imported seeds and plants directly from England and other places.
Rice says Roses were the most favoured flowering plant to be imported into Bangalore. He says the authorities at Lalbagh took care to grow 258 varieties of roses, 160 kinds of ferns, 122 varieties of crotons and a large number of ornamental and flowering plants including orchids and creepers.
The Lalbagh thus took the initiative in introducing several new varieties of plants and fruit bearing trees in the State. Besides, it imported scores of species of plants and trees and encouraged the growth of horticultural crops.
Rice says Lalbagh imported from South America, varieties such as  Achras Sapota (which is widely used in medicine), Eucharis Grandiflora, Allamanda Grandiflora and from north America it imported Magnolia Grandiflora, rubra, phlox paniculata.
Plants and tree such as AgapanthusUmbillatus,  Mellanthus Major, Ganzia Splendens were imported from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Lalbagh also imported from the South Sea islands, Acalypha tricolour and Crotons, while the Castanospermum funebris, Aslophila latebrosa and coccoloba plotyclada came from Australia.
The Cupressus funebris, farfugium grande, alternathera sessilis all came from China,      
The Anagalis carrulea, viola odorata, myosotis arvenis came from England and from Mexico came Fuchsia fulgens, ageratum mexicanum and agave Americana.
Rice found all these species growing in the Lalbagh. He says no account of Bangalore would be complete without a notice of Lalbagh. “This beautiful garden, situated a mile to the east of the fort, appears to have been first laid out in the time of Hyder Ali and enlarged in the time of Tipu Sultan”.
He then goes on to mention the description of Lalbagh in 1800 by Buchanan.
Rice says that Lalbagh has a rare and valuable collections of tropical, sub-tropical pants together with indigenous and foreign fruit bearing trees, He says this stock is constantly replenished by exchanges and donations. He says the Lalbagh was extended and it covered a little more than 100 acres.
He also mentions that a spacious glass house has been constructed. He then goes on to mention that a native artist has been hired to paint coloured drawing of all plants.
Thus, we see that Lalbagh even a century ago was the center of attraction and people visited it in large numbers even then. It was a cynosure of all eyes then and has continued to remain so even centuries later.
By the way, all the shrubs, plants and trees mentioned by Rice still continue to flourish in Lalbagh. Care to take a look. Then head to Lalbagh.        

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