Friday, February 29, 2008


Amble Anniah Pandit Park, more widely known as Subbarayanakere, on the Chamaraja Double Rd. was a tank some decades back. Some years from now, it would be a welcome woodland in the heart of the city. The Mysore civic authorities have devoted much care, and spent money and energy on landscaping and planting trees in this park that is right in the middle of a densely housed locality. The park has some ageing trees, one of which is worshipped by residents in the neighbourhood. In depressing contrast to the emerging greenary in the park, the streets around the park could badly do with some tree cover.
It is not as if the people and the establishments – such as cinema theatre, and petrol bunk - located around the park cannot be persuaded sponsor tree-planting on pavements. Students of a college across the park would be happy to volunteer labour; and nearby residents, who offer puja at the grand old tree in the park, wouldn’t grudge planting some saplings in front of their houses and nurse them into pavement trees. Such as these ones on a street close to the park.A lot of people want to sponsor saplings and take care of the roadside ones, if only they knew how to go about it. Neighborhood residents welfare association or a green agency could step in here.
The Amble Anaiah park was a tank about a century back, named after Subbaraya, a religious person of the 'Dasa' movement, during the days of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III. According to veteran journalist Gouri Satya who lives in the neighbourhood, and whose wife has been a municipal corporation member, the then maharaja developed the water body into a tank, with steps built to facilitate devotees who visit the temples located round Subbarayanakere.Besides the Raghavendra and the Rama temples I counted three other places of worship on the fringe of the tank. Mr Satya says it is not clear how the tank went dry to give way for a park. His guess is outbreak of malaria in the area some time back could have led to the drying out of the tank that bred mosquitoes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The banyan at Aurangabad

Pointing towards the Banyan tree he (our guide) said it was over two hundred years old, and suggested we take rest in its shade, “You will be blessed and it will give you lot of peace of mind, Sir.”...From indrani's blog - i Share.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tulips: Her pride and joy

My friend in Ooty posted this picture in her blog. And we, promptly, nicked it for reproduction here. These tulips in her backyard,says Kalyani, came all the way from Holland via a cousin in the UK, who managed to smuggle in the bulbs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

An NRI tree-sponsor; a Bangalore story

Excerpts from a post in a Bangalore tree-lovers blog:

Uma, a California-based Bangalorean and tree lover, called one of our volunteers. She was to fly off in a couple of days; and before she left (Bangalore), she wanted to do something to the city she grew up in...she wanted to plant some trees.

She contacted a (Tree-for-free) volunteer who contacted Janet. It was Christmas eve and labourers were on leave. some volunteers offered to do the work themselves... next morning they assembled at janet's place; saplings were loaded in cars and the first set of trees were planted at Cartman - a park (in Koramangala) where a retired professor has painstakingly put together a fine collection of plants and information regarding the medicinal value of those plants.

What's the point of planting trees in a place like this, one might ask?...the idea was to add to the collection of species in the park....we planted six saplings in the park.

Off we went to the next planting site - a vacant plot under litigation that had turned into a rubbish landfill; its owners were living the American dream. A concerned neighbour had the site cleaned up and decided to plant trees, keeping full faith in the speed of judgment of the Indian judicial system. We planted 10 trees in and around this site.

Seeing us plant ther, passers-by stopped to congratulate us...Some neighbours asked us if we could plant more trees in the area...By the time we were done, we'd planted about 15 trees in 3 lanes.

Read the full text of this post at Tree-for-free org blog

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An eco-guru comes to town

Cardiologist and Star of Mysore columnist Dr Javeed Nayeem, in his last Friday piece wrote about a visionary and his vision. Provocation for his column was Mysore’s felicitation of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev of Isha Foundation, Coimbatore, on his having been invited to address the Davos world economic forum, repeatedly for the last three years. Dr Nayeem devotes nearly all his three-column space to the sadhguru’s message for binding spirituality with economics.

I can’t say I grasped the connection between economics and spirituality. Sadhguru makes a lot more sense in me when he talks of the connection between trees and humans; and about the disastrous consequences of our reckless disregard for retaining the tree-humans balance. Sadhguru’s GreenHands project seeks to pay back to earth what humans have taken away from it by way of green cover. The project, focused on Tamilnadu, is an ongoing drive to plant 11.4 crore saplings, statewide, by 2010. Which is how the state could hope to get a 30 percent green cover (from the present 17) over the next 15 years.

For the launch of GreenHands in October 2006 Sadguru mobilized over 250,000 followers and volunteers who planted over 850,000 saplings on over 6200 locations in 27 districts, on a single day – Oct.17, 2006. But the guru says he is not in the business of setting Guinness records.

He is in it for the long haul. And the objective he has in mind – 30 per cent green cover in Tamilnadu – can be accomplished only with the involvement of all sections – people, business houses, the government and the media. All this calls for more sensible leadership, policy change, a change in technology, and in our attitude, lifestyle. To get a sense of what is involved, and to hear the sadhguru explain things in his own words – you need to watch the 11-minute video (click the relevant word in last line in this link to project GreenHands)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Q&A: Where to plant?

My young computer engineer friend Nagendra who has made it a point to spread the tree-planting message among those he meets at work says people often ask him some standard questions such as: where do I plant saplings? Right in front of your house on the street, such as this one.

Street-side planting, particularly in localities with houses built wall-to-wall, is best done with the support and active co-operation of your neighbours. Dr. YNI Anand has done it in front of his Kevempu Nagar house (I have been persuading him to put on this blog a few shots of his roadside plants; and also tell us what and how long it took him to do this.) There are numerous others who could share on this space their experiences on planting saplings on their street.

A few tree-lovers such as Lakshmi Bharadwaj have had bad experience of having to cope with a neighbour who apparently doesn’t share Lakshmi’s enthusiasm for tree-planting. What was worse, her unfriendly neighbour chopped down a fully grown tree Lakshmi had nursed for months, because her neighbour wanted space for parking her car. Tree-lovers such as Lakshmi who have an issue with neighbours could always look beyond their neighbourhood for planting saplings. Plantable space are there on road-dividers. (See earlier post; On JLB Rd.)

This small pavement stretch on Sitavilas Road, by the side of the Medical College hostel, appears to be a no-man space. Maybe, there was a tree or two here planted along with those further down that were, presumably, planted during the Maharaja’s days. The missing tree here was probably felled to lay underground cable or drainage line.
Stump of a tree in front of Crawford Hall, chopped unceremoniously, presumably, because of its hindrance to road-widening or overhead power cable.

Tell-tale stub of a pavement tree, close to the Government Guest House at Javagal Srinath Circle on JLB Road.

Some other questions Mr Nagendra raised:

Do we need anyone’s permission to plant saplings on public space?

Where can we get saplings for planting?

Varieties of available saplings, their suitability for a given public space; and their prices.

Many of us are willing to pay/sponsor upkeep of saplings. How can they get someone to plant them?

How do we take care of saplings planted on roadside?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

School yard banyan at the Baden Powell’s

We, at Mysore, tend to take for granted our heritage. A long-time Mysore resident, and a tree-lover, told me the other day that he had driven past the Baden Powell Public School near Crawford Hall so many times, for so long, that it had never occurred to him to stop by for a closer look at the great banyan sprawl that covers a fair chunk of the school ground.
The mightiest among the tree species Banyan spreads out its green cover, with drop-roots mushrooming in ever widening radius around it main trunk. Because of drop-roots the banyan has propensity to survive even if its trunk gets weakened. The Adyar banyan at the Theosophical Society in Chennai had its trunk uprooted in gale in 1989. Horticulture experts and engineers moved in with a crane to rehab the stricken tree. Surviving on the strength of its drop roots Adyar Banyan continues to attract thousands of sight-seers. It is said to be the second biggest in the country, next to the one in Kalkota. In contrast to Adyar, the banyan in Mysore, which can rank among the top ten in India goes widely unnoticed. A local tree lover, Mr K R Kumar, speaks of another banyan on the Mysore University campus at Manasagangotri.

Mr Kumar, who has written extensively on trees, could share his thoughts on the banyans of Mysore. I wish the school authorities, in consultation with the forest department, put up a board, containing a brief account of the school yard banyan’s known history and vital statistics such as its age, the spread, trunk width and tonnage, for the benefit of interested visitors.A scout master at the school said the tree could be over 150 years, adding that the head of the school management knew a lot more about its history. With inputs from him and other knowledgeable persons we could compile a folk account – anecdotes, customs and rituals (some banyans are worshipped) connected with the tree – of the Banyans of Mysore, as material for eco-tourism promotion.

Schools all over the city could organize students visit to the banyan at Baden Powell school. They could be encouraged to hold annual on-the-spot painting contest under the tree, on the banyan theme. Friends Of Roadside Trees or some other organization could sponsor such contest.

On my part, I propose to send these pictures for inclusion in Kelly Martin’s web gallery that has over 50 images of celebrated banyans of Kolkota, Goa, and from the US, Mexico and Vietnam.

Friday, February 15, 2008

P K Sanatorium can be turned Mysore’s greenland

Mysore’s P K Sanatorium, taking a leaf out of the Bangalore University, can turn its 100 acres of open area close to the sanatorium into a thriving greenland. The authorities in Mysore appear to have other ideas. A recent visit to the sprawling sanatorium campus revealed that the district forest department, taking possession of this land, have planted jatropha on nearly half the area. The sanatorium authorities appear to have no say in this development. It may be mentioned that the land we are talking about was gifted by the maharaja to serve as the much-needed green space for patients in the sanatorium.

I wish someone in the media takes this up; and publish a picture, if only to give people an idea of what is at stake; and enable them to judge for themselves, if a jatropha plantation on this vast open space would be the best option, envioronmentally. Folks we met at the sanatorium expressed fears that when once this open space is brought under jatropha planation, it would be tough to undo the environmental deprivation of the now available space that has potentials for a rich mix of vegetation.

The forest department move to grow jatropha is in line with a recent media report suggesting that a local bio-fuel company wants to take this land on 20-year lease for jatropha plantation. In the absence of a critical follow-up story in the media; and with no one raising serious objection the jatropha plan may well become a fait accompli.

For what it is worth, a Bangalore Mirror story (Feb.14), by Niranjan Kaggere, gives an account of how the Bangalore University authorities went about the transformation of the 300-acre campus of thorny bushes and boulders (in 2000) into a greenland, rich in flowering and fruit-bearing trees attracting avian population to the campus.

About 100 acres, initially identified for forestry, was covered with contour bunds and check dams were developed to hold water, and enable it percolate to raise the ground water table. Preparing the land for planting took about a year.

Over 50,000 seedlings were planted over the area, with students pitching in with shramdhan. As much as 80 percent of planted saplings survived. Bangalore University campus, being an enclosed area, was conducive for fruit-bearing and fibrous trees. Existing vegetation was not disturbed and they took up only gap planting.

The Hindu report - Bangalore University celebrates Planet Earth - said they planted 300 varieties of saplings, including jackfruit, bilva, matti, pipal, bela banni and bamboo. Nearly 150 varieties of butterfly have been identifed in the area. The Bangalore University campus has a commemorative garden (Smriti Vana) and also enclaves developed for growing bonsai and medicinal plants.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

His 'green realisations'

Received a message the other day on, what Bangalore-based C N B Rajesh terms, his Green Realisations! My friend is on the faculty of PES School of Engineering.Excerpts from his message:

A lot of people would like to talk about Green House Gases and what has happened to Bangalore since the past five years and so on. Even I used to brag about it too. It was fashionable and it was great to attract attention of people with the Green Issue. But one day I realized I was being mean about the green thing. The realization came about this way.

I have a six-month old son;love spending time with my baby. In fact, I have him right now, right here, in my lap, curiously watching the monitor as I type out this message. One day, I wanted to take my son out for some fresh air. And it was then it stuck me that I can't do so, because of the dust and the noise. I had suffered a long stretch of nausea, cough and head ache and the medicine I took did not take immediate effect because of the dust in the environment that I travel in (My workplace is on Hosur Road - close to electronic city).

Now, when I was looking forward for refreshing evenings with my son and wife, I realized that I would be exposing the little guy to all this dust. Of course, he would adapt over time and develop immunity, as all kids do, but one question rang in my head and really reeled me off.


I went on thinking about it. Well, once you are on this mode, it wont take rocket science to figure out that we are doing a great injustice to our next generation by neglecting this pressing issue. Once, my teacher had told me that the greatest thing that you could do for your country is to leave it neat and clean and usable by the next generation. I did not understand what she had meant at that time, but now I do.

We all talk about the green cover and planet earth so much that we don't realize that our children are going to live with what we leave behind for them. You may say that I am a very selfish guy. I am. I don't mind being called selfish, if such selfishness is going to create a better future for my son and his friends. If they can enjoy the green-ness of Bangalore and love this place for its Gardens, they would know why their parents wanted to stay in this city. They would relate well to their parents and their home land much better and would want to stay here than run away in search of some green haven!!

I know that this is the case with many of you who are reading this message. I also know that you will have many similar stories to share. But, we are all still making a lot of noise, without doing anything about it. I am no different;I am only making noise now. But, I am determined to convert it into action. I did the following things.

I have spoken to my college people. We have a group of volunteers who participate in social issues and our Director has agreed that, this issue can be addressed through them. We are just at the initial stages, but I am sure I can take it to the next level. People, if you are interested in Greening Bangalore (or your city), please do a very very very small thing. Take five minutes of time to jot down why you think that "Thinking Green" is important.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Sight for God's! -effort of a single woman


What's possible to achieve alone? Not much.That's what most of us think. Read on...She planted 50,000 bulbs of daffodils , all by herself, bulb by bulb.Alone.The other picture is her house.
E.R. Ramachandran

The Daffodil Principle
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over." I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake A rrowhead "I will come next Tuesday", I promised a little reluctantly on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren. "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!"My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her."But first we're going to see the daffodils. It's just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this." "Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around." "It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."A fter about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, " Daffodil Garden ." We got out of the car, each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. There were five acres of flowers."Who did this?" I asked Carolyn. "Just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A -frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster. " A nswers to the Questions I Know You A re A sking", was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. "50,000 bulbs," it read. The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain." The third answer was, "Began in 1958." Fo r m e, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had neve r m et, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

On JLB Road, Mysore

The company that has done up this bus shelter on JLB Rd. could sponsor roadside saplings to be planted close by and also on the road-divider. The lone plant that has survived on the road-divider tells the story of numerous others that were planted on this stretch, only to die for want of care. With community support, by way of nursing/watering at initial stages, from residents across the street the saplings would have survived to blossom on the JLB road divider. Another stretch of JLB Rd that could do with flowering plants in the middle.
A sprawling aged tree on JLB Rd., which has a story to tell that dates back, presumably, to the days when this road was laid by an erstwhile maharaja.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Go Green ,Mysore!

Of all the cities in South India, Mysore is lucky to have a mushroom of well laidout gardens throughout the city. The wodeyars and 'let's-think-ahead' Dewans made Mysore what it is today.MUDA and MCC from time to time have developed new Parks.

What is lacking is the initiative of citizens to improve the greenary in the City.'Salumarada Thimmakka' showed what one person could do to bring an awarenes which created a revolution of sorts. An uneducated ( formal eduaction), village woman had such forsight nearly 25 years back is amazing in itself.That she strove, all by herself, nurture the plants, guard them till they could look after themselves is a piece of history. It's a pity Our Government doesn't think of honouring her with Padmashree when The Nobel prize is awarded to Al Gore and Pachuri for their warning on global warming!

There have been some individuals who have planed saplings in the road they live and take care of them.These are our real heroes who need to be saluted.

Come - Let's make Mysore the greenest city in India!

Let's join FORT - Friends of Roadside Trees!

E.R. Ramachandran

A green thought for V-Day

Our young media friend Deepti Ganapathy has come up with ideas on how folks in love can make the best of Mysore's romantic spots on this Valentine Day:

1) Make Chamundi betta as your locale to pop the Q;
2) Sit beside the Kukkarahalli waters and pen down your thoughts into a poem;
3) Sign up for yoga & meditation class with your partner.

To these ideas one might add:
4) Plant a sapling on the roadside close to his/her place or on any other public space of your choice to the mark the day when you popped the Q; penned the poem or signed up for yoga.

How about that Deepti ?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Celebrate life; sponsor a sapling

Wonder what has happened to a plan to plant jatropha on 40 acres of open space close to the P K Sanatorium. My reference is to the effort by Mysore-based Labland Biotech Ltd. to take this government land on 20-year lease for jatropha plantation, in the name of developing a bio-energy park. This makes business sense for the company that seeks to promote jatropha plantation among farmers. Turning the open space into a bio-fuel farm may appeal to the authorities. But as a Mysore resident I don’t think it’s such a good idea, and I expressed my reservations in a blog – Mysore bio-fuel initiative needs closer scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the Green Mysore programme, launched a while ago to plant saplings on available vacant space in the city, doesn’t appear to have made much headway reportedly because of failure on the part of MUDA to release funds to the forest department. Maybe the concerned departments could revive it, this time, in partnership with citizens, under a saplings sponsorship programme.

The idea is to encourage people to celebrate special events in their lives by sponsoring a sapling to be planted at the open space near P K Sanatorium. I nicked the sponsorship idea from Mrs Janet Yegneswaran who runs the Tree-for-free trust in Bangalore. Janet, who set up the trust in memory of her husband, is engaged in planting saplings in city neighborhoods in response to public requests. Though she doesn’t charge anything to plant trees in your neighborhood, Janet accepts sponsorship (of Rs.100 per sapling) from individuals who wish to celebrate an event their life by having a sapling planted to mark the occasion.

To illustrate the point, here is a sampling of events picked out at random from Star of Mysore the other day:

1) Putturu Narasimha Nayak felicitated with Sugama Sangeetha Kalanidhi Award;

2) Prof. N Venkota Rao, writer/social worker, presented with Nrupathumgasri award, in recognition of his 25 years in running he Mythri School for the retarded;

3) Prof.Mewa Singh of Mysore University elected as the Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore.

4) Second death anniversary of Prof. R V Hegde (remembered by family and friend through a newspaper advertisement)

5) Death of K Devaki Achappa (80), whose body has been donated to the JSS Hospital.

Aren’t these events worthy of being celebrated with saplings ? Folks who spend money on newspaper announcements of their wedding, visits abroad, their children’s success in exams, and other events worthy of celebration would be happy to sponsor saplings to be planted at P K Sanatorium or any other public space.

Comments: This post, appearing in another blog, evoked the following reaction:
Bhamy V Shenoy: This is an excellent idea. About 17 years back, MGP and a sister organization “Parisara (environment) had taken up this type of project called smrithi van (Memorial Park) and developed one in Habbal Indsutrial area around a temple there. Today it has become a forest. This may be of the few successful examples of MGPs work.
We did plant thousand of tress in two years time when we had a dynamic forest officer like Kushallapa in every vacant public land (including TB Sanitorium). Only few survived. At Hebbal we succeeded because of the committment of one individual. Now I do not know where he has gone. He was really a dedicated person to the idea of environmental protection.
Bhamy V Shenoy
Convener, MGP

Vijendra Rao: Thanks for drawing my attention to the issue. Well, why not take it up as part of “Nirmala Mysore”, being launched soon?

Dr.(Lt.Col.)Y N I Anand: The idea per se appears good. However, who will look after the plants’ growth, watering and so on once it is planted? I have no idea.
In order to overcome such doubts, I thought of planting saplings on the sides of the road where I live. So far, I have purchased 14 of them & planted - Four Honge, Two Neem, Four flowering plants & Four others. I water them periodically and feel happy seeing them grow everyday. Is it okay as an alternative?
Thanks, Dr Anand

ERR: This is very good idea.There is one problem, though.The percentage rate of saplings that die off, due to lack after care like watering etc and a proper guard during formative years seems to be high.In one of the meetings recently, DCF Chikkappiah mentioned , they need organisations which will look after the saplings.Forest Dept. is willing to provide saplings.Perhaps ‘Nirmala Mysuru’ could help here

Gagan: hello sir. this is a good idea. i had read about the tree for free project of bangalore after you reported the same on praja.
this seems interesting. all that now matters us is who will take care of the plants till they grow up.. as Mr. Anand said, i have been looking after the plants around my house.
a good idea. looking ahead for ideas for overcoming the problems.

Related items: Bio-Energy Park to come up in Mysore - The Hindu

Green Mysore project threatens to fizzle out after much fanfare - The Hindu

Mysore bio-fuel initiative needs closer scrutiny


Tree lovers of the world unite

Project Green Hands