Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beautiful Botanical Garden and Its Architect

Botanical garden is one of the famous landmarks of Pondicherry. It plays a remarkable role in our history. This post describes some of the important features and also the architect who was responsible for the infrastructure and growth of the beautiful garden.

According to the old maps of Pondicherry drawn in 1705 and later, there were several gardens in and around the town. However it is difficult to say when exactly the present Botanical Garden was furnished. But it was definitely there in 1825 when the Ministere de la marine authorized the administration to promote the cultivation of sugarcane and indigo by utilizing its surplus revenue. The decision taken at 26th June 1827, Jardin du Roi (French name of Botanical Garden), was placed under the care of Belanger, Botaniste Directour, Jardin du Roi. Subsequently it came to be known as Jardin Colonial.

In 1835, Botanist Perrottet (Swiss by birth, but later became a French national) took charge of the garden. In a very short period of 4 ½ years, many new varieties of plants along with tobacco, cotton, sugarcane and mulberry were planted in the garden. The Annuaire of 1842 cites that the garden was provided with the pathways and an elliptical pond. The garden also consisted of plant house in the south west and a circular pond was erected at the center. The botanist brought many plants from the gardens of Calcutta, Ceylon and Madras in the exchange basis. He went to Shevroy hills, in person, and got many new varieties of plants.

He started the cultivation of vanilla plants in the year of 1850. Perrottet also started to develop a silk worm nursery by the year 1853. The catalogue prepared by the botanist in the year 1867 says that the garden housed up to 500 varieties of plants. In 1861, it appears to be two gardens, Jardin Colonial (founded in 1827) and the other one was Jardin de Acclimation (founded in 1861). The second one was developed as fruit and vegetable garden. An artisan well was constructed in the 1879. The garden hosted around 60 new species of plants, 250 species of trees and shrubs along with 200 varieties of herbaceous plants. Thus this article describes some of the historic points regarding the great landmark of our town.

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