The Lalbagh Flower Show is an annual event held in January each year around Republic Day (26th January). We missed it last year as we simply weren’t aware of it. As a consequence I was determined to get there this year, despite the warnings of huge crowds. We arrived early at 10:30am (it opened at 10am) and it was already very busy. By the time we left just after midday it was heaving with people. The newspapers subsequently reported that there were 105,000 visitors on Republic Day. That doesn’t surprise me.
Beautiful Bengaluru is a campaign to motivate school children and volunteers to keep Bangalore free from rubbish. That’s no mean feat. The city is littered with rubbish. (See what I did there!). Representatives from the campaign were at the entrance to Lalbagh to highlight the issue and to educate visitors. Vendors on site (and there were plenty of them) had to use eco friendly plates (leaves) and bags(cloth). Unfortunately whilst most of Lalbagh had been kept free of litter, there were pockets of rubbish left on the less well trodden paths. There were plenty of people employed to clean up – but they only cleaned up litter on the busy paths or main routes round Lalbagh. I couldn’t help thinking that if they couldn’t event get one hard clean after such a high profile campaign and effort, what hope did they have for the rest of Bangalore? It was successful though as they seized 100kg of prohibited plastic products and collected fines totalling INR25,000 from those littering during the ten days.
Flower Gol Gumbaz
Gol Gumbaz is the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur. The tomb, located in Bijapur, Karnataka was completed in 1656 by the architect Yaqut of Dabul. The flower version at the Lalbagh glass house was a stunning spectacle. (I thought it was the Taj Mahal though.)
The crowds in the glass house were being controlled by police and we had to walk through a metal detector to get in (after we had already been through one to get into the park itself). The crowd control was minimal at best. It was rammed and quite claustrophobic. Police were blowing whistles and using sticks to usher people along and encouraging them not to take so many flipping selfies! We shuffled our way through, being pushed and squeezed and, in Zahra’s case, grabbed too. The flower show attracts a lot of people and some of them are from the villages outside of Bangalore. A lot of villagers have never seen white people before. As a consequence Zahra was pinched and squeezed on her face and ears. It’s supposed to be a sign of affection but they do not ask, they squeeze and pinch hard and frankly I don’t want to think about how clean their hands aren’t. It got a bit too much for Zahra when two young men grabbed her and pinched her ears hard. Rez had a word. That word got quite vocal. The police intervened and sent the men on their way after ticking them off. An unpleasant experience but we didn’t let it dampen our spirits.
The Talipot Palms
These are commonly known as century or fanpalms and are about 30m tall. They are a threatened species but Lalbagh has 12 of them on site. This year three of them have come into Flower, just in time for the show, how very obliging of them! They’re about 30m tall and they flower once in every 60-80 years and I don’t know what the odds are of three of them flowering at once. After flowering they will produce a “marble like fruit” and in less than a year the palms start drying up.
Now the flower show has come to an end, all the flowers, all 500,000 of them, will be composted back into the soil. The 48 tonnes of organic waste will be composted within Lalbagh gardens itself.