Lalbagh's Legacy: A Journey from Mughal Majesty to Horticultural Haven

Introduction

Hidden in the noisy setting of Bangalore is Lalbagh – an oasis more than JUST a botanical garden. It is an ancient tapestry telling stories about its royal birth till today. However, Lalbagh is not a mere haven of nature but an epitome of the visionaries and gardeners who turned a piece of land into a paradise of plants. Let us journey together to understand the tales embedded in each leaf and flower.

 

Origins of Lalbagh: Botanical Elegance to Royal Gardens:

The story of Lalbagh was conceived in the eighteenth century under the reign of one of the strong rulers of the kingdom of Mysore- Hyder Ali. Lalbagh was inspired by the Mughal style and was designed to resemble the paradisiacal gardens mentioned in the Quran. These elegant ideas were transformed into reality using carefully crafted landscapes that included flowing waters and a variety of rare plants imported from Delhi, Multan, and Lahore. 

 

After the death of Hyder Ali, his son Tipu Sultan took up his passion for plant cultivation. Lalbagh was also no longer a mere royal retreat; it became the fountainhead of many plants hailing from all over the world. He enriched the garden by adding plants from Kabul, Persia, Mauritius, and Turkey.

The obsession with exotic plants and their propagation would later lay a path for what Lalbgh would eventually be like—a renowned green sanctuary for the rich and the poor.

 

Horticultural Haven: 18th Century and early 19th Century

The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the occupation of the area by the British. During this transition, the garden developed into a significant arboretum under British governance in 1799, after the death of Tipu Sultan. Horticulturists from Britain were amazed at the gardening opportunities offered in Lalbagh, and they started bringing in plants from the far corners of the world. It was an era of trading plants when seeds and treelets were brought to settle in this garden via the oceanic route. To grow such an environment in Lalbagh, the government established a specialized nursery of rare and exotic species. 

 

This metamorphosis of the garden from a Royal leisure space to a scientific establishment is crucial. It was the center of botanic investigations and experiments on adapting foreign plants to local conditions. Consequently, this was also the beginning of the process that would result in Lalbagh becoming a global melting pot of diverse vegetation and making the first steps towards being one of the most significant botanical institutions later on.

Amazing Bangalore

I had an amazing day on this tour! Praveen was excellent, full of knowledge, always checking to see if I was ok, and up for whatever we were about to do, whether it eat an authentic Indian lunch, try Indian coffee, drink mango juice, climb a 3000 million year old rock, sneaking through the world coffee convention to take a look at Bangalore palace or just checking to see if I was ok with the traffic. Bangalore has blown me away! Thank you Praveen 🙏

-Khochen, Australia

 

Colonial Imprints and Glasshouse Grandeur

A remarkable addition from this period is the glass house that was inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. The Glasshouse, constructed in 1889 during the era of the Director of Lalbagh, John Cameron, epitomized architecture and engineering at the time. The structure, which had been built with iron and glass, looked like a spectacle of light and space at its best, demonstrating Victorian architectural strength. 

 

The metal pillars supporting the Glasshouse have the manufacturer’s mark of Glasgow, and the Belgian glass used to shine under The Bangalore Sun to create a magical setting. It served as a refuge where delicate plants were sheltered from the local weather elements that changed frequently. The Glasshouse came to embody the convergence of technology and nature while bearing testimony to the British contribution to Lalbagh. Today, it serves as proof of a period in Lalbagh’s history that witnessed many changes while keeping its spirit intact.

Fantastic tour

This tour is a must-do when you visit Bengaluru! Praveen is a great guide and a true storyteller. I was a bit nervous at first since it was the first time I was travelling by myself and I did not know what to expect, but I had the best day discovering the beautiful city!

Praveen is very knowledgeable and passionate about history, which shines through in every aspect of the tour! My favorite part was the walk through the Lalbagh Botanical garden, followed by a visit to a Vishnu temple and the KR market. Lunch was amazing as well!

Will definitely book another one of his tours during my stay!

-Katrien

A Laboratory of Green: Research and Education:

Later, Lalbagh came under the Department of Horticulture, Government of Karnataka. It also welcomed the Horticulture Producers Cooperative Marketing Society (HOPCOMS) to manage the horticulture outputs of farms and orchards scientifically. Today, it encompasses 2150 species of plants and boasts a Rose Garden, Bonsai Garden, Topiary Garden, Cacti Garden, a Library, and several sculptures on display carved out of tree trunks. It is a living laboratory that has witnessed growth by many species of trees and plants over the centuries. Local and foreign horticulturalists and botanists have made Lalbagh an experimental ground by planting various species. Plant response, regeneration, and ongoing research on the important interpretation of plant behavior are always underway here.

 

It promotes a stronger understanding of flora and horticulture through workshops, guided tours, corporate team-building outings, and knowledge-sharing sessions.

 

Glass house in Lalbagh Botanical Garden

More Than Just Plants

During its infancy, Lalbagh had once been an enclave for both floral and faunal species. It used to have a zoo and an aquarium, thus contributing to its attraction by many people. Though the Zoo no longer exists, it contributed to the diversification of Lalbagh into multi-ecosystems. It was also important that there was an aquarium present, which further added to showing what the aquatic ecosystems entail. Although these features are part of the history of Lalbagh, they highlight the park’s significance as an all-encompassing nature preserve that embraces plant life and wildlife.

Of greater significance, perhaps, is the 3-billion-year-old massive rock formation in Lalbagh. Visitors rarely realize that they are sitting on one of the oldest rock formations in the world. It is one of the 26 National Geological Monuments in India.

Lalbagh Botanical Garden

Festivals and Flora: A Symphony of Colors

Lalbagh is not only about history and horticulture but also a lively platform for many cultural activities. The garden becomes a kaleidoscope of colors during different festivals throughout the year. It includes the Biannual Flower Show, which is one of the many celebrations in this city dating over a century. The garden comes alive with breathtaking flowers and stylish displays that fascinate visitors. The timing of these festivals by the caretakers is quite strategic, and the blossoming flowers make for an appealing visual feast. These festivals are not just about demonstrating beauty but rather symbolizing the natural world and cultural existence together. Lalbagh is transformed into a flower hub, covered by many kinds of flowers that attract all classes of citizens during these festivals.

Find your Inspiration in Nature

A visit to Lalbagh is not just an excursion in a botanical garden but a walk on a page of history and culture. From royal beginnings to what it is today, a center for botanical research and colorful festivities, Lalbagh is proof of how great ideas are kept alive by their champions. It is a place where you can go back in time and walk the paths of our ancestors while at the same time learning to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature and the wonders that humankind has created. 

 

Tempted to witness this remarkable blend of culture and history? We urge you to book the Lalbagh Tour with Hidden Gems. We promise you won’t regret it.

 

Duration
8 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

BANGALORE THROUGH THE AGES TOUR

Bangalore gives you the impression of a modern new city, yet if you scratch the surface, you will uncover a storied past dating back over 1000 years.

In this tightly paced tour, we will visit interesting sites of different eras – Historical Temples, Palaces, Heritage Buildings, Markets, Statues, a Fort, a Museum, a lush Park, and more and learn about their significance and contribution to the making of Bangalore.

It’s a tour of the story of Bangalore – from its modest origin in pre-medieval times; to the era when it was just another place compared to its more illustrious peers, now long faded into oblivion, to the fascinating times when the city was traded, and gifted like a commodity; then fought over and retained like a shining possession; right down to the times when it reached an inflexion point and came into its own as a modern mega city.

This is by no means an ordinary sightseeing trip, but a true journey of exploration with engaging commentary sprinkled with interesting facts and anecdotes. A tour is sure to stimulate your mind and invigorate your senses.

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from
₹10,000
Duration
4 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
Up to 8

BANGALORE THROUGH THE AGES – HALF DAY TOUR

Bangalore gives you the impression of a modern new city, yet if you scratch the surface, you will uncover a storied past dating back over 1000 years.

In this tightly paced tour, we will visit interesting sites of different eras – A lush park, A historic temple, the oldest Market of the city, and the centre of state government to learn about their significance and contribution to the making of Bangalore.

It’s a tour of the story of Bangalore – from its modest origin in pre-medieval times; to the era when it was just another place compared to its more illustrious peers, now long faded into oblivion, to the fascinating times when the city was traded, and gifted like a commodity; then fought over and retained like a shining possession; right down to the times when it reached an inflexion point and came into its own as a modern mega city.

This is by no means an ordinary sightseeing trip, but a true journey of exploration with engaging commentary sprinkled with interesting facts and anecdotes. A tour is sure to stimulate your mind and invigorate your senses.

from
₹7,000
Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

ULSOOR HERITAGE WALK

Come take a stroll through quaint bazaars and by lanes of one of the oldest localities of Bangalore.

Watch a way of life frozen in a time warp.

Explore a magnificent ancient temple of unknown origin with its tall juggernaut and Gopuram.

Get to know the layered history of a centuries-old lake; a watch tower with stories of its own and a magnificent memorial fit for a king.

Lose yourself inside a leafy British regiment church with murals and memorials which tell a tale of another era.

Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

MALLESHWARAM HERITAGE WALK

Join us as we walk the neighbourhood often referred to as the cultural heart of Bangalore.

Having been home to Nobel laureates, Diwans, artists, and scholars it has a vibrant atmosphere unique to itself.

Visit a placid lake with expansive views and lovely walkways, filled with the laughter of children.

Explore a delightful temple complex dating back to the 1600s with its majestic gopuram, lush garden, and stepped water pool.

Meander through colourful bazaars filled with the heavy scent of jasmines, tuberoses, fresh fruits, and sweet incense.

Marvel at a way of life unique to the locality.

Stops also include a center for culture, beautiful homes of a bygone era, and more.

We pause midway for some hot South Indian snacks and wrap up the walk with fine-filter coffee under a canopy of tall trees in a charming heritage site.

Duration
2 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
Up to 8

DAYS OF THE RAJ WALK

Join us on a leisurely walk in what was known as the Civil and Military Station during the reign of the British.

Stops will include Landmark buildings, Memorials, Statues, etc on MG Road, Brigade Road, Residency Road & Museum Road.

Our tour explores the fascinating history of this area from its origin as a British army garrison; blossoming into a full-fledged township larger than the original town; to its transformation as the Central Business District of Bangalore.

We wrap up the walk with breakfast in one of the oldest remaining eateries in this part of town.

Duration
4 hours
Group Size
2 to 8

BRITISH HERITAGE TOUR

The legacy of over 150 years of British presence in Bangalore is hard to miss if you are in the city. For example, The broad roads laid out over 200 years ago for horse carriages, bullock carts, and horsemen do a fine job of carrying the chaotic traffic of this day.

The British brought to Bangalore promenades, parks, churches, schools, hospitals, pubs, clubs, shopping centers, dance halls, race courses, golf ranges, cricket, etc where there was none before.

In this specially curated tour, we will explore in detail many of the fascinating landmarks of that era as well as sneak a peek at a few more that have left an indelible mark on the cityscape of Bangalore

You will also learn how events of that era have shaped a modest town to become one of the largest cities in India in a few generations; how the capital of an unknown state has become the outsourcing capital of the world.

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from
₹5,650
Duration
3 hours
Group Size
Up to 8

LALBAGH HERITAGE AND FOOD STREET WALK

Join us for an invigorating walk and talk in the largest man-made work of art in Bangalore.

For a few centuries, the Lalbagh Botanical Garden has acted as the lungs of the city, providing a refuge from the hustle and bustle of city life for residents and tourists alike.

The park is a treasure trove of delights with astonishing layers of history associated with it which we uncover in the walking tour.

We will walk along the neatly manicured greens, enjoy the exquisite architectural details of the fine structures within it, and marvel at stories of its glorious trees and plants.

The tour ends at the famed food street of Bangalore where you will eat till you drop a dazzling assortment of vegetarian delicacies unique to the place.