South India s most alive city, there are no outsiders in Bengaluru. A melting point of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the hoi polloi of Bengaluru is charmingly mixed. Nearly every one speaks English, even if it is only a smattering, and everyone is aware of the privilege they re bestowed with. Yes, every resident of Bengaluru, regardless of where they re from, takes immense pride in their address. Malls, parks, pubs, theatre, cafes, art galleries, palaces - at any given point, Bengaluru is buzzing and alive with activity. Bengaluru is officially known as the “Garden City” so it is not surprising to see many botanical gardens over here. Today, let us have a look at the Lal Bagh or Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens of Bengaluru.
Lal Bagh or Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens, means “The Red Garden” in English, is a well-known botanical garden in southern Bengaluru. The garden was originally commissioned by Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, and later finished by his son Tipu Sultan. It has a famous glasshouse, which hosts an annual flower show. Lal Bagh houses India s largest collection of tropical plants, has an aquarium and a lake, and is one of the main tourist attractions in Bengaluru
Lal Bagh Gardens of Bengaluru were originally laid out by Hyder Ali and were modelled on gardens in Sira laid out by its last Mughal Subedar, Dilawar Khan (r.1726–1756). Hyder Ali commissioned the building of this garden in 1760 but his son, Tipu Sultan, completed it. Hyder Ali decided to create this garden on the lines of the Mughal Gardens that were gaining popularity during his time. Hyder Ali laid out these famous botanical gardens and his son added horticultural wealth to them by importing trees and plants from several countries. Hyder Ali deployed people from Thigala Community who were extremely good in gardening. The Lal Bagh Gardens were commissioned by the 18th century and over the years it acquired India s first lawn-clock and the subcontinent s largest collection of rare plants.
In 1874, Lal Bagh had an area of 45 acres (180,000 m2). In 1889, 30 acres were added to the eastern side, followed by 13 acres in 1891 including the rock with Kempe Gowda tower and 94 acres more in 1894 on the eastern side just below the rock bringing it to a total of 188 acres (760,000 m2). The foundation stone for the Glass House, modelled on London s Crystal Palace was laid on 30 November 1898 by Prince Albert Victor and was built by James Cameron, the then superintendent of Lal Bagh.
Today, Lal Bagh is a 240-acre garden. It holds a number of flower shows, especially on the Republic Day (26 January). The garden has over 1,000 species of flora. The garden also has trees that are over 100 years old.
The garden surrounds one of the towers erected by the founder of Bengaluru, Kempe Gowda. The park has some rare species of plants brought from Persia, Afghanistan and France. With an intricate watering system for irrigation, this garden is aesthetically designed, with lawns, flowerbeds, lotus pools and fountains. Most of the centuries old trees are labelled for easy identification. The Lal Bagh Rock, one of the oldest rock formations on earth, dating back to 3,000 million years, is another attraction that attracts the crowds.
The Lal Bagh Gardens are based on the design of the Mughal Gardens that once stood at Sira, at a distance of 120 km from Bengaluru on the main NH4 at Tumkur District in Karnataka. This is amply supported by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and other historical records. At that time, Sira was the headquarters of the strategically important southernmost Mughal suba (province) of the Deccan before the British Raj.
Flower shows are conducted every year to educate people about the variety of flora and develop public interest in plant conservation and cultivation.The government of Karnataka organizes Janapada Jaatre in Lal Bagh on the second and fourth weekends (both Saturday and Sunday) of every month. Janapada Jaatre, which translates to Folk Fair, features folk dance, music and plays performed by troupes from all parts of Karnataka. The show mainly depicts the cultural folklore of Karnataka, the traditional costumes and musical instruments.
Cubbon Park is at a distance of some 5 kms from Lal Bagh. Originally created in 1870, when Major General Richard Sankey was the then British Chief Engineer of Mysore state, it covered an area of 100 acres (0.40 km2) and subsequent expansion has taken place and the area reported now is about 300 acres (1.2 km2). It has a rich recorded history of abundant flora and fauna plantations coupled with numerous impressive and aesthetically located buildings and statues of famous personages, in its precincts. This public park was first named as “Meade’s Park” after Sir John Meade, the acting Commissioner of Mysore in 1870 and subsequently renamed as Cubbon Park after the longest serving commissioner of the time, Sir Mark Cubbon. The landscaping in the park creatively integrates natural rock outcrops with thickets of trees, massive bamboos, with grassy expanse and flowerbeds and the monuments within its limits, regulated by the Horticulture Department of the Government of Karnataka. The predominantly green area of the park has many motor able roads, and the well laid out walking paths running through the park are frequented by early morning walkers and the naturalists who study plants in the tranquil natural environment.
Lal Bagh is well connected by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses from Kempe Gowda Bus Station/Shivaji Nagar. All buses towards Jayanagar/Banashankari areas pass through one of the four gates of Lal Bagh.
Lal Bagh remains open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. throughout the year.
Bengaluru isn t called the Garden City for nothing. Lal Bagh with its endless tree-lined and flower paved boulevards offer respite from the bustle of the city.