If you are in Bengaluru, the capital city of the southern state of Karnataka, and ask the locals for the best place to visit, it is very likely that most people will mention the Lalbagh Botanical Garden. This sprawling flower garden is not only one of the best features of the city, but is also the pride of the people of Bengaluru. Administered and maintained under the Government of Karnataka’s Directorate of Horticulture, the garden is home to a great variety of flowering and medicinal plants and trees from around the world. Many of these are rare varieties, conserved here.
Location and Access
Lalbagh Botanical Gardens are located in the heart of southern Bengaluru City. It is located merely 4 kilometres away from another iconic Bengaluru landmark, the Vidhan Soudha State Legislature building. Lalbagh is bordered by the residential locality called Jayanagar in the south and by Basavanagudi in the west. All the city buses connecting Jayanagar or Basavanagudi drop visitors off at Lalbagh or near one of the gates approaching Lalbagh. Private cars are allowed only on the Double Road approach, though. Like most people in Bengaluru, visitors to the Lalbagh prefer cycling to the garden.
Address – Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560004
Phone – 080 2657 8184
History of Lalbagh
The history of this iconic garden of southern India is a long one. The Lalbagh Garden was initially commissioned by Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore, in 1760 – about a year before he made himself ruler of the kindgom by overthrowing the then Maharaja. Soon after Hyder Ali’s death in 1782, his son Tipu Sultan took over as the Sultan of Mysore. He continued with the construction of Lalbagh and imported rare flowering plants from many parts of the world including Persia, Turkey, Mauritius, Afghanistan, and even South Africa. Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan’s love of Nature is evident from the number of flower gardens they have commissioned across the erstwhile state of Mysore. In its early days, it is believed, that the highlight of the Lalbagh was a variety of red roses that flowered all through the year. It is perhaps after these red blossoms that the garden was named Lalbagh.
The Lalbagh Botanical Garden is a veritable treasure house of rare and medicinal plants and trees, apart from flowering plants. It is home to over 1850 species and 670 genera of plants. Plants from various parts of the world can be found here.
The Directorate of Horticulture, Karnataka Government, conducts regular workshops and training courses for the public and fledgling botanists. Courses include ornamental gardening, bonsai gardening, horticulture, fruit and vegetable preservation and processing.
The best-known and most awaited events of Bengaluru are the flower shows held at the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. These are usually held in January and August, the two major flowering seasons of the year. They also coincide with India’s Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations. Thousands of flowers of different colours are arranged in different forms. The entire garden is filled with their sweet fragrances. While some arrangements show off the landscaping and gardening skill of the Lalbagh Botanical Garden staff, others are tableaus representing important Indian icons. Each year one tableau of flowers represents some matter of local significance such as the Bengaluru metro train. The flower shows of Lalbagh attract thousands of visitors including students and eminent botanists and horticulturists from around the globe. If you are in Karnataka’s capital city in January or August, this is one attraction that you simply cannot afford to miss.
Within the Lalbagh Garden
Some of the important places to see inside the Lalbagh Botanical Garden are
The Glass House – One of Lalbagh’s key attractions. Designed to look like London’s Crystal Palace, this is the center of attraction during the flower shows.
Kempegowda Tower – Built by Kempe Gowda II, this tower or gopura is believed to be one of the corners (limits) of old Bengaluru (probably sometime in the 16th century).
Bandstand – Right at the center of the Lalbagh Botanical Garden is the Bandstand which was constructed by William New between 1858 and 1864.
Lalbagh House – While the Lalbagh House initially served as the residential quarters for the Directorate of Horticulture staff, it is now used as a library with a sizable collection of books on botany and horticulture (Dr. M.H. Marigowda National Horticulture Library).
Pigeon House – A red circular pigeon house in the Lalbagh Garden is the best place to spot some of the rarer birds that migrate here during winters.
Statue of Sri Chamaraja Wodeyar – The statue of Chaamaraja Wodeyar, the 23rd King of Mysore, is another key attraction of the Lalbagh Garden. The black metal statue is perched upon a 10 feet marble column.
Lecture Hall – The Lecture Hall of Lalbagh is used to host lectures and workshops in the city.
Other attractions of Lalbagh –
- Directorate Building
- Rose Garden
- Floral Clock
- Lalbagh Nursery
- Cacti House
- Lotus Pond
- Lalbagh Lake
- Aquarium Building
- Red Cedar Avenue
- Mango Avenue
Ornithology at Lalbagh (100)
The Lalbagh Botanical Garden is open throughout the year. It is open between 6 am and 7 pm.
The Lalbagh Botanical Garden charges an admission fee of INR 10 per person. School children and visitors with disabilities are not charged this fee. Early morning and late evening joggers are also allowed free access to the garden. During the famous flower shows of Lalbagh Garden (usually in January and August) admission fee is increased to INR 50 per person.
The Lalbagh Botanical Garden is accessible through four different gates. Only one of these – the East Gate allows vehicular traffic. There is a parking space inside the garden near the East Gate. Vehicular movement is prohibited inside the garden.
The ever increasing infrastructural needs of a highly populated city such as Bengaluru have made great demands of the Lalbagh from time to time. A few years ago a part of the garden was earmarked for the construction of a huge parking lot. Due to a number of protests over the decision, not much work has been undertaken in this direction. More recently, large scale protests broke out when the Bangalore Metro rail corporate acquired a tract of land from Lalbagh authorities for development of metro facilities and started to cut down trees in the section. Save Lalbagh Rock was another movement against Lalbagh administration for having caused damaged 3000 million year old geological formation – Peninsular Gneiss National Monument – more popularly called Lalbagh Rock.