Monday, March 1, 2010

Generation Next: Lalbagh Flower Show

Generation Next: Lalbagh Flower Show
January 24, 2010

Sackhumvit Trust recently organized a field visit to Lalbagh for Dream School Foundation’s (DSF) HeadStart students at the R.T. Nagar education and development centre. The objective of the field trip was for students to learn about the variety of flowers, trees, and agricultural produce available in Karnataka, to explore the sites of Lalbagh while learning about the history of the botanical gardens, and to partake in celebrations of India’s Republic Day (January 26th 2010).

Field Trip Details
A significant component of the field trip involved students learning about the history and landmarks of Lalbagh, which spans a total of 240 acres in southern Bangalore. The garden was commissioned in the 18th century by the prevailing ruler of Mysore, Hyder Ali, and was later completed by his son, Tipu Sultan. Hyder Ali designed the garden according to landscapes of the Mughal Gardens. Tipu Sultan further developed the garden by importing trees and plants from several countries like Persia, Afghanistan and France. Over the years, Lalbagh has acquired new features such as India's first lawn-clock, and the subcontinent's largest collection of rare plants. Today the garden has trees that are over 100 years old.

All the students were excited to attend Lalbagh’s flower show at the Glass House; a bi-annual event that celebrates India’s Independence and Republic Days. Ayyanar, a 9th standard student from a Tamil-Medium government high school at R.T. Nagar, was particularly inspired by the flower displays, as he grows flowers and designs similar arrangements as a hobby. The largest display at the flower show was a model of the Qutub Minar made of different color roses. Students were amazed that such a large structure could be made from flowers alone, and some of them even commented on how all of these flowers would eventually go to waste!

After the flower show, students explored the remaining sites at Lalbagh. They visited the HMT flower clock, which is seven meters long in diameter. The students walked around Lalbagh Lake (where they noticed various flora and fauna in the lotus pond) and the rose garden. Students also observed the 20 million year old tree fossil at Lalbagh. This was followed by a discussion of how fossils are dated by the chemical process of radioactive decay; a topic covered in the 10th standard chemistry syllabus of students. Students enjoyed visiting the famous elephant apple tree of Lalbagh, and posed for group pictures under Lalbagh’s tallest tree and famous silk cotton tree.

In the middle of the field trip, students took a break to run and play in the gardens, and take in their beautiful surroundings. Several students discussed how the trees at Lalbagh, most of which are hundreds of years old, are important historical artifacts. This was followed by an active discussion on how more than 40,000 trees will be felled in Bangalore (including trees at Lalbagh!) due to road widening schemes and the construction of the Bangalore Metro.

The field visit concluded with a visit to Kempe Gowda tower, where students viewed Bangalore’s cityscape atop a hill made from 3 billion year old Peninsular Gneissic rocks! They also visited the Lalbagh nursery where students purchased plants and vegetable seedlings to grow at home.

Overall DSF’s HeadStart students enjoyed their visit to Lalbagh, with many of them requesting to come back and visit the gardens soon. Their genuine interest in Lalbagh’s history and natural sites was inspiring, so much so that students enthusiastically purchased seedlings to create their own, yet smaller version, of the botanical gardens. Sackhumvit Trust would like to thank DSF for enabling us to work with their HeadStart students as part of our environmental education program. We are happy to share this resource with organizations and school communities dedicated to educating underprivileged youth.

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