Kolkata, the original 'British era' capital of India,is a city most famous for its colonial era architecture and legacy; the grand Victoria Memorial, old world charm of Park Street, gothic St. Paul's Cathedral and the vast Maidan are some of the most visited places in the city. Not surprisingly, these places are the most crowded too, making Kolkata one of the most crowded and congested cities in India.
However, if you are in Kolkata and want to escape to a natural retreat (and lose the crowds), there is no better place than the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden or as its simply called as 'The Botanical Garden'. Located on the banks of Hoogli River, this garden is a favorite natural retreat for the residents of the city.
I spent a lazy afternoon at the Botanical Garden with the family and it was a wonderful day spent in the company of interesting flora under the winter sun.
The Botanical Garden was established way back in the year 1787, making it around two centuries old and it is the oldest (and largest) botanical garden in south East Asia. Covering an area of 106 hectares, it is just not large it's HUGE!!
The only way to get enjoy this garden is to walk and what a wonderful walk it is; the tree lined paths, the very unusual trees and random growth of foliage alongside the paths gives a feeling of untamed nature.
One of the first amazing flora we came across was these big lotus leafs in a pond, I mean they were really BIG and it's a fact that they are so sturdy that an an eight year old child can safely sit on the leaves.
The views were lovely, almost out of a picture postcard. Soon, we came across a natural canal which meanders along the entire garden and makes for some really pretty scenery.
At one point in the canal, there were boating facilities and we saw people merrily paddling boats,enjoying the breeze and the sun. The husband suggested we do it too,but I wasn't in mood for any kind of exercise other than walking, so we moved on.
Walking for about an hour, we came to 'THE' attraction of Botanical Garden,which is The Great Banyan Tree - it is around 250 years old and looks like a miniature forest. In fact,the husband who did not know about the tree, was gobsmacked on seeing the extent of the tree from a distance.
The Great Banyan Tree - yeah this is one tree, not a forest !!
Some facts about The Great Banyan Tree in the below image :)
Walking inside the tree is is strolling inside a giant canopy forest and makes for interesting photography.
We came out of the Great Banyan Tree and rested for a while, admiring the views and clicking photographs.
It was almost 2.5 hours of wandering inside the garden and we loved every minute of it. We left the garden with a sense of peace and relaxation. As I left the garden, these words echoed in my mind:-
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring