Gift of Mysore King Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar develops into a beautiful mini-Lalbagh in Ooty

Gift of Mysore King Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar develops into a beautiful mini-Lalbagh in Ooty. Photo: Twitter

bengaluru/Karnataka, September 1: Around 70 years ago, the garden of 40 acres which was gifted to the government of Karnataka  by the Maharaja of Mysore is now changed into a beautiful ‘mini-Lalbagh’ and would be open to the public from next month.

The garden is funded by the Karnataka government and developed by botanists from the Horticultural Department. the garden would become a part of the scenic beauty of Udhagamandalam, or Ooty as the hill station is known, in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu. S.S Mallikarjun, the Horticulture Minister said that “the first phase of 25 acres is developed at a cost of around 10 crores. It is a gift to Ooty by Karnataka.” He added that the garden would be inaugurated by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in the upcoming weeks.

‘Siri Horticulture Garden, Fern Hill, Ooty,’ was  part of the late Maharaja’s Summer Palace. For decades, it was being used as a parent potato garden that supplied seeds to farmers in Kolar, Hassan, Tumkur and Bengaluru Rural. From the past 10 years, the garden was under the care of botanists from Karnataka which has now been transformed into an oasis of sorts with flowering plants like Alstroemeria or Princess Lilies, Begonia, Orchids and Fuchsia. The landscape includes hillocks, valleys, and six lakes. M. Jagadeesh, the Joint Director of Horticulture, Lalbagh said that “We have also planned a topiary garden and an Italian garden.”

Second phase of garden

The garden also has a ‘Nilgiri sheep forest’ and plenty of swans in the lakes and the walking paths. In the second phase, the Horticulture Department is planning to build a temperate glasshouse, hanging bridges, and chasing fountains.

When Ooty was a part of the Mysore state, M. H. Mari Gowda, the horticulture expert requested Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar in 1940 to arrange for potato cultivation as obtaining seeds from Shimla and Jalandhar was becoming difficult. The,  Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar invested in the Summer Palace, a part of the land was set aside for growing potato.