The incredible Great Indian Banyan Tree, at Indian Botanical Gardens (established in 1786), Shibpur, Howrah (also known as Calcutta Botanical Gardens) is almost 250 years old. It’s one of the most unique and unbelievable natural wonders of the world. The Botanical Gardens (109 hectares) is famed for its immense repository of a wide variety of national and international origin of trees and medicinal plants.
Photo Essay: Calcutta Botanical Gardens and ruins of its founder’s house at Shibpur
Tucked away in Shibpur, Howrah district, on the other side of River Hooghly near Kolkata, the Great Indian Banyan Tree attracts tens of thousands of visitors every year due to its massive size and growth. The authorities have cordoned off its outer ring with a well fenced boundary, a change we learnt they introduced this year to protect the Banyan Tree from outsiders and visitors.
Interestingly, we drove to the Botanical Gardens (also called the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Gardens) in Howrah one fine weekend. There is an entry ticket of Rs. 20 per individual for Indians and Rs. 100 for Foreigners. There’s a separate charge for cameras. Once you get the tickets, you can opt for a buggy that charges Rs. 250. A max of 5-6 persons can ride on one buggy. But given the sheer size of the Botanical Gardens, it’s wise to take the buggy. However, if you up for walking and discovering the park, there’s no need to hire the buggy. We were lucky to have a buggy whose driver was quite a knowledgable guide. He helped us know the various trees and plants, flowers and their value.
A weekend trip to the Botanical Gardens (which is maintained by The Botanical Survey of India) is immensely rejuvenating and enriching. Once inside the park, it is difficult to believe that it’s located so near to a massive metropolitan cities of Howrah and Kolkata; and yet so so calm and quiet. The Giant Water Lily (photographed below by me) is certainly an unique attraction in the park.
There were so many moments inside the park where we felt that it required for immediate restoration. The house of Robert Kyd lays in ruins. There were many areas which needs to be spruced up and cleaned. Parking is another big pain point. There is no designated parking lot for visitors coming to the Botanical Gardens in Shibpur. There is an adjacent Bus stand outside of the Gardens, where there is hardly any space for private vehicles to park their cars. With great difficulty, we managed to find an empty spot to park our car. The parking fee was Rs. 50.