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Lalbagh – Where every tree has a story

Cheat Sheet Fact of Life: Lalbagh was started initially as a private garden by Hyder Ali, one of the famous rulers of Mysore in 1760


I was a cruel person on Sunday, March 29.  I dragged my husband out of the bed in the night (6.00 AM in the morning) and took him to Lalbagh. My husband missed the The New Zealand  vs. Australia Cricket World Cup Final Match!

We participated in the Green Heritage Walk  at Lalbagh, organized by Bangalore Walks. Our guide Vijay Thiruday, was an elderly gentleman, who studied at Oxford. He walked by tapping his mahogany walking stick, to keep the snakes at bay. He introduced us to the trees at Lalbagh and shared the deepest and darkest secrets of the trees.

Lalbagh has trees from all over the world. During the British rule, Lalbagh thrived because of the strong connection with Kew gardens in London. Vijay mentioned that Lalbagh was the place where the British scientists experimented with vegetables, to feed the soldiers.

The food we eat now, is different from what people ate 200 years ago.

200 years ago, the local people ate 23 different kinds of greens and we had 200 varieties of Brinjals. I was surprised to learn that 80 % of the vegetables we eat now, did not originate in India. The list includes, potatoes, tomatoes, green chilli and many other vegetables, which came from all over the world.

Vijay told us the stories behind a few trees.

Quinine, the anti-dote for Malaria is extracted from the bark of Cinchona tree. Sir Ronald Ross’s groundbreaking research on Malaria happened in Bengaluru.

Sir Ronald Ross suspected the role of female anopheles mosquitoes in causing Malaria. He paid a guy 2 annas per female anopheles mosquito bite and monitored his health.

Needless to say that the nameless guy died from Malaria. He sacrificed his life to save many more lives.

Araucaria Pine tree is Bengaluru’s Christmas tree.

During one of the tours for high school kids, Vijay challenged the children by asking the height of the Araucaria tree. One of the intelligent boys in the group replied indirectly, ‘It is a hot summer day. I am 5ft long, why don’t you calculate the height of the tree?’. 

They found the height of the tree by measuring its shadow. The tree was 180 ft long. The children corrected him saying that imperial units are outdated and tree’s height is 55 m.

We closed the tour by having a delicious breakfast at MTR, the traditional tiffin place of Bengaluru. The place was crowded but we had a reservation.

The best part of the breakfast was drinking filter coffee in silver glasses.

The cost of the tour is Rs. 600/- per person. The price includes breakfast. Vijay’s company and the relaxed MTR breakfast was worth the price.

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The sweet, Chandraharam, was named after the movie playing in the adjacent theater.

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The 3 billion year old rock at Lalbagh

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The Araucaria Pine Trees are in the background

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Behold the beauty of Lalbagh

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Ancient trees. I am standing near a Mango tree. The trunk is huge!

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Of all the places, the security guy decided to dry his chaddis at this scenic location. Jeez!

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Angel’s Trumpet flower. This beautiful flower is poisonous. Can you believe it? 

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The glass house which is modeled after the Crystal Palace of London. The Crystal Palace burnt down in fire, ours remains strong after a recent renovation.

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The faithful stray dog, who protected our group and walked along with us. The dog shows up for every tour. It protects the group from other stray dogs, harmless joggers and runners, by ferociously barking at them. Vijay mentioned that during one of the walks it protected the group from a snake. The dedication of the dog surprised and amused me. 

This post is dedicated to this faithful dog.

Photographs Courtesy: Pradeep Kumar Gouda

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