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Saturday, 31 March 2012


The entry gate to the garden
The visit to Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Botanic Garden of Kolkata was quite memorable. That Sunday morning was bright and hot and hubby’s fair complexion had already started turning pink when we reached the garden by noon.
The entry ticket charges being different for Indians and the Foreigners, the Assistant at the Ticket Counter stared at hubby and enquired, “Which country?”
“India’, he replied and paid for the tickets as well as the charges for the camera.

At the entry gate again, the security guard glanced at the ticket, gave him one scrutinising look, looked at his big camera and Ray-Ban shades, moved his eyes over his cap and shot out, “Nationality?”
“Indian”, he again said.
“OK. Please throw the water bottle in the dust-bin. You can’t take it inside,” were the instructions.

We threw the water bottle in the dust-bin and entered Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden said to be one of the largest Botanical Gardens in the world. Spread over 273 acres, it was established over 225 years ago in the year 1787 by a British Lt Col Robert Kyd. The original name of the garden was “Company Bagan” after East India Company.

Lily ponds and lakes dot the garden
As we started walking, we noticed that there was a battery operated car also for taking the tourists around. However, being walk-freaks, we decided to walk in the garden unmindful of the scorching sun above our heads. The garden was really impressive with all kinds of trees, bushes, plants, ponds, lilies and what have you. It is stated to be having over 12,000 trees and almost 1500 types of plants. There are a number of Lily Ponds too which are inter-connected by underground pipes ensuring supply of water from Hooghly river. “What an idea, Sirji”, I couldn’t help exclaiming.

So many old and fallen trees around
As we were walked admiring the natural beauty of the vegetation around, we did not notice a Sardarji approaching us curiously, “Excuse me! Excuse me, Sir. Which country are you from?”
Oh my God! What is happening here? Hubby grinned and said, “India se ji! Tussi kitthon aaye ho?”  (From India. Where have you come from?”)

Lakes designed to receive fresh water

Sardarji was so happy hearing this, “Oye
Pappe, main Jalandron. Tussi?”  (Hey Bro! I’m from Jalandhar. And you?)
“Main bi Jalandron” ( I’m also from Jalandhar), hubby said excitedly and the next moment they were hugging each other like long lost brothers. How language and cities bind you together, I was wondering. I, with my dark complexion and black hair, was probably taken as his Bengali escort and ignored in the entire episode.

Lovely surroundings

We continued walking towards the great Banyan Tree in the hot bright sun with our throats parched but there was no sign of any drinking water. The thirst was increasing but our enthusiasm was not waning.

250 years old Banyan tree with 3300 prop-roots
Finally we reached the much-talked about banyan tree. What a sight, it was. Was it a tree? Or was it jungle incarnate? With innumerable roots hanging all over the place, we tried to locate the trunk. But where was the trunk? We went round and round in circles and could not find it. Later we got to know that it was removed in 1925 when it was eaten away by the white ants.
A nearby board enlightened us that the tree was over 250 years old and spread over an area of 1.5 hectares. Having about 3300 prop-roots, it is considered a wonder in plant kingdom and finds a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Another board imparted more information on the Tree. It is of the species Ficus Benghalensis Linn (Moraceae) having circumference of 1.08kms with highest branch at 24.5 metre.

Such a nice slogan!
Mighty impressed with this wonderful creation of nature, we were forced to return to the gate with parched lips and dry throat, yearning for a sip of water but eyes wide-open with the wonder that we had just seen. Once outside the gate of the garden, we quenched our thirst with tender coconut water still thinking about what all history of India this tree must have witnessed.. 

Under the prop-roots of the famous banyan tree

Dry leaves accumulate under the trees  untouched undisturbed.

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