Kolkata’s Indian Botanical Garden, the third oldest in the world, has turned 225 years young:

for your reading pleasure……..
A festival of flora
N. Shiva Kumar (for photos please see the link placesd in the SUBJECT)
Kolkata’s Indian Botanical Garden, the third oldest in the world, has turned 225 years young

It is here that you will find the tree that produces the largest seed in the world — a fascinating palm called the Double Coconut. You will come across the banyan tree that supports nearly 3000 trunk roots or the giant water lilies with floating leaves that are six-feet in diameter. All these specimens and more adorn the sprawling Indian Botanic Garden (IBG) in Kolkata, which has just turned years young… and flourishing with a fabulous fiesta of flora.

Even though India is blessed with the richest biodiversity among the countries in the world, it has only 140 botanical gardens. Of these, about 75 are enlisted by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). Though many public gardens are also of public and academic interest, many remain in a state of dull diligence as very little attention is given to their educational and vocational value.

However, to understand the importance of the fantastic flora in our country a bountiful botanical garden was enthusiastically started two centuries ago on the fertile west bank of the river Hooghly. Today, it is regarded as the third oldest botanical garden in the world with a comprehensive collection of flora. Even though the BSI was established in 1890 for floristic surveys and manages botanic gardens, the IBG was established much before, in 1787 by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kyd. He was the secretary of the Military Board of Fort William in Calcutta during the British rule.

Originally 313 acres were earmarked for growing assorted plants, but now it encompasses an area of 273 acres. Its unique landscape design initiated by Sir George King in 1872 is considered to be one of the finest visual quotients in the botanic gardens of the world. The undulated terrain, naturalized lakes and pools interconnected with underground pipes receive water from river Hooghly.

The garden was earlier known as East India Company’s Garden or the ‘Company Bagan’ or Calcutta Garden and later as the Royal Botanic Garden. After independence it was renamed as the Indian Botanical Garden in 1950.

For those living in the ‘City of Joy’, IBG has a very special place in their lives. Many eulogize about its environs, while for others it brings back nostalgic memories. Jahar Ghosh, a veteran in the advertising world and based in Kolkata, recalls how in the mid-1960s “bunking college we used to go to botanical garden to meet a bunch of college girls with hope something will happen! By mid 1970s, as we matured tastes changed. We visited the garden to feel the cool river breeze by sitting on its banks and on the opposite side gazed at the activity of the dockyard and ship building in progress and like a true Bengali waited to buy hilsa fish from boatmen back from their fresh catch.” His wish is to see IBG not merely as an ‘ornamental memorial’ but a ‘living monument’ to showcase and educate India about its vast wealth of natural heritage.

Making a case for preservation of these precious biodiversity reserves, Dr. Surender Kumar Bhardwaj, superintendent of the botanical garden at M.D. University, Haryana, recently wrote in an environment report, “There are more than 1800 botanical gardens worldwide that play a very crucial role as centers for rescue, recovery and rehabilitation of rare, endangered and extinction-prone species of plants and valuable plant genetic resources. These specialised gardens also play an important role in education of indigenous and exotic plants and as centers of training in horticulture, gardening, landscaping, and ex-situ conservation.”

The latest census conducted at the Indian Botanic Garden revealed 13,722 plants of which 500 specimens are considered rare, according to Dr. H.S. Debnath, director of IBG. To commemorate the completion of 225 years, IBG has released two books, Birds, Butterflies and associate plants of IBG and Winter Flowers of IBG . According to Dr. Debnath several more interesting books and events are on the anvil to showcase the park.

PADUA, Italy is the oldest botanic garden in the wrld visited by Dr Hugh Cleghorn,Inspector genl of Forests,Madras returned to England,Beddome was trained by him.CALCUTTA with nearly 400 acres bought for EIC by Kyd with his ownGarden nearby is the biggest as Kew was Royal Park .Linnaeus visited Versaille and London,Guest of Dr Magnol whose system is Linne adopted.Koenig a friend of Kyd and mentor of Roxburgh at Samalkota where Coramandel pls was started with Linnean system.Roxburgh, Botanist was posted in Calcutta as Supdt.Burkill spent 65 yrs of reserch on history of Indian botany and diedat 97 just few mnthsbefore prit in 1965.Pity this book costin Rs6 ‘not available.Last piece here with me in Hyderabad 1I doubt any of Indian s know who was great collectot of plants of the world who died in prison.