If you have lived in Bangalore or visited the city, am sure that at some point, you have made a trip to Lalbagh. I have many childhood memories of the beautiful gardens, the floral clock and the flower shows.
The history of this beautifully laid out gardens has always fascinated me, and I have always looked around for interesting stories around this lung space of Bangalore. In fact, there are hundreds of stories revolving around the green legacy of the city. The nurseries of Siddapura still thrive, actually, a reminder of the city's green legacy.
Anyway, one interesting reference to Lalbagh comes from The Journal of Horticulture, Cottage Gardener, Country Gentleman, Bee-Keeper and Poultry Chronicle. (Volume XIV., New Series), published in London, 1868.
Under the sub-heading, ‘Bangalore Horticultural Fete’, the journal describes the Fete held in Bangalore on December 31st, 1867. “Inside the show of Flowers, Vegetables, and Fruit, and especially the latter, exposed for exhibition on long rows of shelves, was something worth seeing in England, and perfectly astonishing in this country.”
The journal describes a basket of apples, strawberries and peaches as exhibits at the Fete. It adds, “Among the flowers one could not help being struck with the beauty and good taste of Major Boddam’s collection, and the same may be said of the cut flowers exhibited by Signor De Vecchi.” The journal also mentions that he exhibited silk. Just a small google search, and I realise that Signor De Vecchi was an Italian who helped in the revival of the silk industry in the erstwhile Mysore state, back in 1866!
An official report in the supplement to the Mysore Gazette, (Bangalore, 1st February, 1868), is also cited in the journal.
I’m really surprised that there cauliflowers in the city a good century and a half (almost) ago! And what’s more, the extract of the official report in the supplement to the gazette says that a person named Nunjoondappah and another person named Nunjapah exhibited cauliflowers! The exhibition is also said to have featured a dish made of Brussels Sprouts. The celery of Mrs Bowring “was second best”, the extract says.
The Lalbagh Garden was laid out in 1740 by Hyder Ali. In over 200 years, the gardens continue to be at the heart of all horticultural activities in the city.
Suggested reading: If you can lay your hands on Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain, you will get rich insights into the history behind the city. (Authors: Anuradha Mathur, Dilip Da Cunha, Rupa, 2006)