(Last Updated on : 10/09/2013)
The botanical garden is located in Shibpur, on the west bank of the river Hooghly in Kolkata. The garden is spread over 272 acres of luxuriant greenery, which is in the suburbs of the city. The cynosure of the Botanical Gardens is the huge 250-year-old Banyan tree. The garden has a historical past that dates back to the British regime when Kolkata was the capital of India and there was an influx of Europeans from all over the world. Colonel Robert Kyd is credited for the foundation of the Garden, he in a letter dated 1st June 1786 initiated the proposal of its establishment. He was an amateur botanist apart from being a Secretary to the Board in the Military Department of Fort William, and thought this would be valuable for the trade and commerce a well. April 1787 marked the beginning of the preparatory works for the Garden.
Kyd undertook schemes under which initially nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, pepper vines, etc were planted but that failed due to the unsuitable climatic conditions. Same was the case with Equatorial fruits. It is noted that Kyd introduced some 300 species of plants into the Garden. His successor, William Roxburgh, took charge of the Garden on 29 November 1793, Roxburgh introduced the Mahogany tree into the Garden from West Indian seeds sent by the COURT OF DIRECTORS in 1794-95. There is a claim that every Mahogany tree in the region was basically derived from these imports. Similarly, teak was also for the first time planted in the Calcutta Botanic Garden, though Teak plantations were not successful in Bengal. Roxburgh experimented with fibrous plants and they were more successful of his other experiments.
The Botanical Gardens is laced with a variety of flower and fruit bearing trees. The centerpiece of the garden is undoubtedly the enormous 250-year-old Banyan tree. Besides, a large variety of aquatic plants, particularly the Victoria Amazonica is especially very attractive. The Sicilian double coconut tree, the multibranched Palmyra tree, bamboo trees, and a huge variety of cactus, orchids and other flowering plants makes this place a wonderful location to spend some time discovering the wide variety of flora and natural vegetation.
The Library of the Garden was enhanced and improved by the purchase of Thomson's personal library. Thomson took charge of the Garden on 17th April 1855. This place is an ultimate paradise for people with interest in botany and they will find a rare collection of monographs at the in-house library. This place away from the noise of the city provides a refining experience for the visitors imparting knowledge and visual treat. There are no fees charged for entering the Garden, and one can best enjoy during sunsets and mornings.