The Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden famously known as Botanical Garden is located on the west bank of River Ganges, in Shibpur. Established in the year 1787 at the proposal of Colonel Alexander Kyd by the then Governor General Lord Cornwallis, this garden spanning 273 acres was popularly called Company Garden. The garden contains around 12,000 living perennial plants and thousands of dried out plants collected from across the globe. The star attraction of the Botanical Garden is the colossal and wide spread banyan tree, famously called ‘Great Banyan Tree’ that forms the second largest canopy in the world. The garden also nurtures myriad of amazing orchids and multicolored flowers. There is also a boating facility in one of its lakes and a library in the garden, which treasures a number of valuable books on botany. The botanical garden of Kolkata nurtures a range of trees of rare species.
Location of Botanic Garden, Shibpur
The Botanic Garden is located at Shibpur, a suburb of Kolkata city of West Bengal State of India. The garden nestles on the Howrah side of river Hooghly and is located around 12 km west of Kolkata city center.
History of Botanic Garden, Shibpur
The Kolkata Botanical Garden is the largest botanic garden of Asia. This huge garden covers a sprawling area of around 273 acres of land, nurturing around 12,000 botanical specimens. It was founded by the Colonel Alexander Kyd of the East India Country in 1786. The design of the unique and amazing landscape of the garden was initiated by Sir George King in 1872 and it is reckoned as one of the most beautiful landscaped gardens with undulating land topography and amazing artificial lakes. The garden was also called the East India Company’s Garden or the ‘Company Bagan’. After, India gained Independence, it was renamed as ‘Indian Botanic Garden’ in the year 1950. The garden came under the management of the Botanical Survey of India on January 1, 1963.
The most famous attraction of the Botanical Garden is the 250-year-old ‘Great Banyan Tree’, also known as Ficus Bengalhensis. It has the largest spread in India and perhaps in Asia too. There is no clear history of the tree as to the time of planting etc. but it is mentioned in some travel books of the 19th century. It was damaged by two great cyclones of 1864 and 1867, when some of its main branches were broken exposing it to the attack of Fungus. With its large number of aerial roots, which grow from the branches and run vertically to the ground and look like so many trunks the Great Banyan looks more like a forest than an individual tree. Interestingly enough, the tree now lives in perfect vigour without its main truck, which decayed and had to be removed in 1925. The circumference of the original trunk at 1.7 meters from the ground was 15.7 meters. The area occupied by the tree at present is 14428.44 square feet. The present crown of the tree has a circumference of 450 meters and the highest branch rises to 24.5 meters. It has at present 2880 aerial roots reaching down to the ground. A Wonder in plant kingdom the tree occupies a position in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Around 12,000 trees and shrubs belonging to 1400 exotic species along with a myriad of herbaceous plants are nurtured in 25 Divisions, Green houses, Glass Houses and conservatories of the garden. Presently, the garden nurtures myriad of rarest species of trees, brought from Java, Nepal, Brazil, Sumatra, Sicily, Malaysia etc. The garden also contains Cuban Palms, mahogany trees, mango trees, banyan trees, tamarind trees, multi-hued bamboo trees, coconut trees from Sicily, the mad tree, orchids, a range of aquatic plants, branching palms trees from Brazil and various kinds of cacti. The garden also boasts the richest collection of Bougainvillea, Bamboos, Citrus, Pandanus, Jasmine, Water Lilies, Ferns, Creepers, Ficus, Hibiscus and a range of floricultural and arboricultural plants. Some of the most exotic plants of the garden are Bread Fruit Tree, Giant Water Lilies, Double Coconut, Krishnabot, Giant Water lilies and the Shivalinga tree.
For around two centuries, the Botanical Garden is playing the role of a leading institution for horticultural and botanical research in India. The emerald greeneries all around is a great source of inspiration for educational and research activity. Besides, the development, research and educational value, the Botanical Garden of Kolkata also supports a healthy natural bird and insect population. The garden is very popular among photographers, scientists and academicians. Tourists from all over the globe also come to the Botanical Garden to experience its floral grandeur. The ideal time to visit the garden is during the winter months, from October to March.
Trivia about Botanic Garden, Shibpur near Kolkata
- The Botanical Garden of Calcutta was founded in the year 1787, by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Kyd.
- The garden nestles on the west bank of the River Ganges and covers an area of around 273 acres.
- The garden is the home of 12,000 living perennial plants and a number of dried out plants, collected from all over the world.
- The major attraction of the Botanical garden is the Great Banyan Tree. It is considered as the biggest Banyan Tree across the globe, forming the second largest canopy in the world.
- The garden is also home to a rare water lily – Victoria Amazonica.