The Lalbagh Glass House in the Botanical Garden
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Lalbagh or Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, meaning The Red Garden in English, is a well-known botanical garden in southern Bengaluru, India. It has a famous glass house dating from 1889 which hosts two annual flower shows (26 January and 15 August). Lalbagh houses India's largest collection of tropical plants, has a lake, and is one of the main tourist attractions in Bengaluru. Lal Bagh is also home to a few species of birds. The commonly sighted birds include Myna, Parakeets, Crows, Brahminy Kite, Pond Heron, Common Egret, Kingfisher, Spotted Owlets, Spotted kite, Spotted Pelican, Ducks, Indian Cormorant, Purple Moor Hen etc.
Hyder Ali commissioned the building of this garden in 1760 but his son, Tipu Sultan, completed it. Hyder Ali decided to create this garden on the lines of the Mughal Gardens that were gaining popularity during his time. Hyder Ali laid out these famous botanical gardens and his son added horticultural wealth to them by importing trees and plants from several countries. Hyder Ali deployed people from Thigala community who were extremely good in gardening. The Lalbagh gardens were commissioned by the 18th century and over the years it acquired India's first lawn-clock and the subcontinent's largest collection of rare plants.  A menagerie established in the 1860s was under the charge of G.H. Krumbiegel in 1914. Captain S.S.Flower reported that it included a Court built between 1850 and 1860 having tigers and rhinoceros; an aviary; a monkey house with an orangutan; a paddock with blackbuck, chital, Sambhur deer, barking deer and a pair of emus; a bear house and a peacock enclosure.
The Lalbagh gardens are based on the design of the Mughal Gardens that once stood at Sira, at a distance of 120 km from Bengaluru on the main NH4 at Tumkur District in Karnataka. This is amply supported by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and other historical records. At that time, Sira was the headquarters of the strategically important southernmost Mughal "suba" (province) of the Deccan before the British Raj.
In 1874, Lalbagh had an area of 45 acres (180,000 m2). In 1889, 30 acres were added to the eastern side, followed by 13 acres in 1891 including the rock with Kempegowda tower and 94 acres more in 1894 on the eastern side just below the rock bringing it to a total of 188 acres (760,000 m2). The foundation stone for the Glass House, modeled on London's Crystal Palace was laid on 30 November 1889 by Prince Albert Victor and was built by John Cameron, the then superintendent of Lalbagh. It was built with cast iron from the Saracen Foundry in Glasgow UK.
Lalbagh is a 240 acres (0.97 km2) garden and is located in south Bengaluru. It holds a number of flower shows, especially on the Republic Day (26 January). The garden has over 1,000 species of flora. The garden also has trees that are over 100 years old.
The garden surrounds one of the towers erected by the founder of Bengaluru, Kempe Gowda. The park has some rare species of plants brought from Persia, Afghanistan and France. With an intricate watering system for irrigation, this garden is aesthetically designed, with lawns, flowerbeds, lotus pools and fountains. Most of the centuries-old trees are labelled for easy identification. The Lalbagh Rock, one of the most ancient rock formations on earth, dating back to 3,000 million years, is another attraction that attracts the crowds.
Lalbagh has four gates. The western gate is situated near Siddapura Circle and one can enter this gate and enjoy the sylvan atmosphere of the garden. Outside, touching the compound gate, is Krumbigal Road. The other side of the road touches the compound wall of R.V.School. The National College, Rashtriya Vidyalaya, Chikkamavalli and Doddamavalli are nearby. The other side of the road goes to 'Krishna Rao road', where you can see The Indian Institute of World Culture, a beautiful library and a fine auditorium, which hosts a programme every week. Farther south, Model House street and the Yediyur Terminus are the main points.
The eastern gate has a wide road with Jayanagar close by. The southern gate is often referred to as a small gate and is near Lalbagh Road. The northern gate is a fairly wide and big road leading to the Glass House and serves as the primary exit.
Tourism and eco-development
Flower shows are conducted every year during the week of Republic day and Independence day, to educate people about the variety of flora and develop public interest in plant conservation and cultivation.
The Government of Karnataka organises "Janapada Jaatre" in Lalbagh on the second and fourth weekends (both Saturday and Sunday) of every month. Janapada Jaatre, which translates to Folk Fair, features folk dance, music and plays performed by troupes from all parts of Karnataka. The show mainly depicts the cultural folklore of Karnataka, the traditional costumes and musical instruments.
A geological monument for the peninsular gneiss formation is also a tourist attraction at the gardens. This monument has been designated by the Geological Survey of India on the Lalbagh hill which is made up of 3,000 million-year-old peninsular gneissic rocks. One of the four cardinal towers erected by Kempegowda II, also a major tourist attraction, is seen above this hillock. This tower gives the full view of Bangalore from the top.
Save Lalbagh protests
As part of the ongoing development of the Bengaluru Metro Rail, the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd has acquired a section of Lal Bagh of around 1,135 m2 where tree felling is taking place. On 13 and 14 April 2009, 500 feet of Lalbagh's wall was broken down and a number of eucalyptus trees were cut.
Citizens protests started almost immediately and have been continuing on a weekly basis. Protests are being made against illegal tree felling and land acquisition by the government without paying heed to various acts put into place to protect Bengaluru's greenery and public park spaces.
Lalbagh is well connected by Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation buses from Kempegowda Bus Station/Shivaji Nagar. All buses towards Jayanagar/Banashankari areas pass through one of the four gates of Lalbagh.
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- Suresh Singh, Kumar. People of India: Karnataka Vol. xxvi. Affiliated East-West Press (Pvt.) Ltd. ISBN 978-8-1859-3898-1.
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- "Peninsular Gneiss". Geological Survey of India. Retrieved 2009-02-27.
- National Geological Monuments, pages 96, Peninsular Gneiss, page29-32. Geological Survey of India,27, Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Kolkata-700016. 2001. ISSN 0254-0436.
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