>Richmond Town – Tabebuia time in the park !

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A traditional layout -the legacy of horticulturists past

Richmond Town is in the heart of Bangalore City. It is rather neatly positioned between Double Road, Hosur Road and MG Road. Long ago during the days of the Cantt-City divide, this was and still is, in the Cantt area. When I was a child, there were charming old `Monkey Tops ‘ everywhere, moss grew on crumbling walls and the `Queen of the Night ( Raat ki Rani /Cestrum Nocturnum ) ‘ scented lanes as we walked back home every evening, tired after playing games on the streets without a care. Glow worms glittered in the grass in our old Colonial family home – Binfield, which was on Richmond Road and the only thing that littered the road were flowers that had been discarded by their trees.


Batting the breeze on a winter afternoon

Our family has lived in Bangalore for over a hundred years since my ancestors first settled here to breed race horses for the Wodeyars, the Maharajahs of Mysore. Not much is left as we remember it, but every now and then, little glimpses of the past float through cracks in a gate, wind themselves around bars of a window and whisper sadly of times gone by. If your heart is still in Bangalore, you will see and hear them. The Richmond Town Park represents a time when horticulture was Bangalore’s all consuming occupation and as avidly discussed as the weather, which of course was simply delightful. Bangalore’s boon turned out out to be its curse. Attracted by the weather, in the early 1990’s builders and industry magnates alike saw rich potential in this sleepy `Garden City ‘ and laid seige to it, its identity and all that was loved dearly.


Little nooks and crannies to hide in with a book

The outlines of the park, its well laid out beds and even the forlorn Bandstand in the corner where unknown local bands used to play every Sunday evening, highlights the regard given to public amenities in the planning of this city. Back then, our city was laid out by educted men with vision, a genuine love for the state, and a strong aesthetic sensibility. Today, apartment dwellers – young and old alike reap the benefits of their foresight and flock here to soak in the sun in winter or enjoy the evening breeze in summer. The park is a great leveller. All stratas of society have access to it. Children play, the elderly find much to observe and fitness conscious walkers patrol the periphery with intense determination as they wear down the pathways.


Need to identify this one

In January, the beautiful Tabebuia blooms uninhibitedly every where it is still allowed to. Rampant tree cutting by merciless civic bodies and an ego-centric, myopic Government in power has led to the heartless destruction of the city’s beloved natural heritage. Once, every avenue was awash with vibrant colour throughout the year due to a system called `serial blossoming ‘ initiated by GH Krumbiegel, one of the chief architects of Lal Bagh ( 1865-1956)  and supported by the Diwan of Mysore, Sir Mirza Ismail, which transformed the city into a painter’s palette each season.

Tabebuia makes hearts sing in spring

The Tabebuia adorns bare branches in early spring ( Dec – Jan in Bangalore ) blooming only after all the leaves have fallen off. There are pink and yellow varieties – Tabebuia Argenita, Tabebuia Rosea, Tabebuia Impetiginosa and Tabebuia Pallida — which were all brought into the city by the British in the 1900s from Central America. In this picture is the Impetiginosa, a common tree in Argentina, blooming in the park. While it is mainly a street tree with not much contribution to bio-diversity, some humming birds do find it useful.

A long journey from Argentina

The Richmond Town park is the hub for all community activity. Around it has sprung up a mini eco-system of vendors who flock here for lucrative business on weekends and lovers who find inspiration in its blooms. In my childhood it was difficult to find people to talk to here – everyone had their own gardens, who needed a park ?  Now, it’s packed with city dwellers desperate for a little lung space and some peace of mind.



I think it is still one of the most beautiful public parks in the city.Once,  gardeners and maintenance staff were fiercely possessive of every shrub and every tree. They carefully planned seasonal blooms and raised saplings in a corner with gentle consideration. Season after season, the park was easy on the eye and the heart, allowing you to forget the mindless, ugly concrete jungle creeping up menacingly on its periphery.

Today, it is left orphaned -a victim of red tapism and bureaucratic quarrels between the Dept.of Horticulture and the BBMP ( Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagar Palike ). When Divyashree Chambers ( who are next door ) took on its maintenance, the park was restored to its former glory. Now, caught between these two government bodies, both of whom are washing their hands of its responsibility with the claim ” no budgets’… this park too… like everything else they touch in Bangalore will wither away and die if clear decisions are not taken in time.

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