It was a beautiful sunny day with streaky clouds and a blue sky, kind of perfect to get my gear out. Mani had her JLPT examination so I dropped her off at Christchurch College and took a bus to Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens.
Lal Bagh is one of the major attractions “within” the city of Bangalore. Spread over almost 250 acres of landscaped terrain, this beautiful garden was laid out in 1760 by the famous Mysore ruler, Hyder Ali. The tickets are cheap (per head Rs.10) and you can also take a guided tour with in an eco-friendly buggy (per head Rs.100), or like me, just stroll at your own pace.
Heads up for tourists wanting to visit, they should start early since as day passes, it gets more and more difficult to breathe on the polluted road to this beautiful garden.
Lal Bagh Hillock
As I entered the gardens, the first thing one sees is a hillock. It’s not too difficult to climb and a good starting point. Take a breather at the top and plan a path to your liking as you can view the whole area from here. This hillock is said to be one of the oldest rock formations on earth, dating back to some 3 billion years! There is a small tower at the top called the Kempe Gowda Tower. It also has its own history. The creation of the Bangalore or “Bengaluru” as its now called is attributed to Kempegowda. He established four cardinal towers defining limits to the “city.” This Kempe Gowda Tower is supposed to be the southern end of the city, though currently, Bengaluru has very much outgrown these boundaries and the tower is now more of within the heart of the city.
Lal Bagh Glass House
I came down the hillock and decided to take a left on the well-laid walker’s path that runs along the periphery of the park. Although Hyder Ali initiated the gardens his son, Tipu Sultan, further developed and completed it. The garden has quite a few trees and plants imported from several countries. Along the path are rows of benches with Red Cedar trees on either side providing a wonderful shade on both sides. Along the way one can see the Glass House, built during the British Raj and is said to be modeled on London’s Crystal Palace. It was desolate at the time but I hear it serves as a venue for Horticultural Shows twice a year on Independence Day (15th Aug) and the Republic Day (26th Jan). Right next to the Glass House is The Bandstand. Prior to construction of the Glass House, Bandstand was the venue for flower shows.
Lal Bagh Lake
Further on I could see quite a few morning joggers. Apart from health enthusiasts, Lal Bagh gets anything around 6,000 to 7,000 visitors every day including quite a few foreigners. Beyond the flowers gardens there is a small lake. Lalbagh Lake is man-made and was earlier just a gorge. The lake project was commissioned in 1890 to provide water to the garden’s plants. There are benches all along the peripheral of the lake, where one can sit and enjoy the beautiful scene of the two islands on the lake. I am not sure but I did spot a White-breasted Kingfisher. Walking by I reached the The Lotus pond, just adjacent to the Lalbagh Lake, and if you visit it during the blooming season, the whole pond is pink with lotuses. I crossed a small bridge and it led to a closed and deserted Lalbagh Nursery. Well, I couldn’t allow myself to but sneak in. Some plants were lying here and there but no caretakers. I took a few photographs… not really satisfied.
After the nursery there is some wounding paths lined with street lamps. Completing a full circle, I saw some boys flying kites at the back of the hillock. There is a small pond there and one has to go very carefully on the narrow path to the hillock. The wind picked up and I was able to take some very nice shots here. It took me around 2 hours to go a full circle. Right at the exit, I saw a sweet dog trying to get some shut-eye on the bench. I had a delightful time exploring the place and would love to go again some time with Mani.
Every year on Republic day and Independence Day, a lovely flower show is organized at the Lalbagh Botanical Garden.
Timings: 6:00 am – 7:00 pm on all days
*Update: Since August 2014, there is a Camera charge of Rs.50 per camera.