New Delhi, India
June 12, 2012
The Botanical Gardens have been around since 1969, and consist of four main sections: the Research Section (which, obviously, is off-limits for casual visitors), the Plant Introduction Section, the Botanical Garden, and the Recreational Garden—all of it spreading over 80 hectares, including a small lake of about 17 hectares. According to the tourist literature available, about 300 species of flora are to be found in the garden; we didn’t make a list as we wandered through the gardens, but I can believe it.
Entry fees to the Botanical Gardens are Rs 10 per person; children below 12 years pay Rs 5. We paid up at the ticket counter, showed our tickets at the gate, and were ushered in. The gardens sprawl prettily (reminding me a little of Botanical Gardens I’ve seen in more temperate climes than India—Melbourne, for instance). Off on the left, just after the gate, are the ‘docks’ for the lake. ‘Docks’ because one of the main attractions of the gardens seem to be the paddle boats that can be hired for joy rides across the lake. We weren’t interested in these, so we kept right, where a paved path curves its way along the rim of the lake. Above the path, on its right, lies the bulk of the gardens: beautifully landscaped stretches of lawn, copses, flowerbeds, hedges and topiary.
This is the area where you can wander about freely pretty much as you please. There are gentle-sloped terraces which you can easily walk up or down (though I did slip and fall on my bum coming down!), or use the short flights of steps discreetly built here and there. There are benches picturesquely arranged to offer great views over the gardens; there are birds in the trees and the bushes; and there are plenty of shady trees under which you can sit and doze.
What we liked most:
1. The stands of lovely Kashmir willows, their long slender branches trailing like tresses down to the lawns.
2. The stands of conifers. These aren’t the massive deodar cedars Kashmir is mostly known for, but they’re a rich, beautiful deep green, and include the famous Kashmir cypress. The shade is dark and soothing and perfect for lazing in the afternoon!
3. The flowers. Oh, the flowers. We saw a dazzling variety of summer flowers in the flowerbeds here: pansies, violas, roses, Californian poppies, poppies, and even some flowering trees and shrubs—my favourite were the red double hawthorns, which seemed to be now wilting in the summer heat, but still bravely continued to be covered with masses of deep pink blooms.
4. The topiary. There’s not much of this—other than the occasional bush shaped into a rough sofa chair (not that I’d want to sit in one of those). More interesting (and very Kashmiri) were the conical Kashmir cypresses, carefully clipped and with the word Allah ‘carved’ in large Urdu letters along the middle.
You can spend as much—or as little—time as you want to in the Botanical Gardens. It’s a very pleasant place to visit, and much quieter than the relatively noisy historic gardens, which are usually flooded with tourists. For more on those, click here to read my journal, A History Lover’s Jaunt through Srinagar.
From journal Three Days in Srinagar