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Empress Garden, Pune Overview

The Empress Botanical Garden is named after Queen Victoria back when she held the sceptre. Once a favourite among the British officials and thus also named Soldier's Garden, the place is now a sprawling greenery of 39 acres with hundreds of rare species in trees and flowers. Empress Garden makes for a great place to take a stroll in the afternoon, learn about our flora in the flower exhibitions and breathe in some fresh air away from the city traffic.

The garden sustains a number of plants and flowers of rare origin and is home to various indigenous varieties that are more than a hundred years old. Spanning around 59 acres, the empress garden is regarded as a botanical park where one can go for a casual stroll and gain knowledge about different species of trees, shrubs, vines and blooming beauties. The garden is a result of the labour of love as the experts spend a good amount of time and invest considerable effort and diligence in the upkeep of this botanical park.

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History

The Empress Garden was formerly known as the “Soldier’s Garden.” The land where the garden stands today was owned by Sardar Vithalrao Purandhare in Pune. It was taken care of and managed by General Finjer. After some years, it was taken over by the Government in the year 1838. Later, in the year 1845, it was named “Garden of Dr Don”  when the land was handed over to Sir Charles Napier.

It was later renamed as the “Empress Garden” in the honour of Queen Victoria who acquired the title of the “Empress Of India.” It was also called Soldier’s Garden because it is said that the British East India Company laid this down for their British soldiers to come here for leisure and recreation every now and then.

Soon, the responsibility of the Empress Garden was given to the Government of Bombay. In the year 1892, the Government gave this duty and authority to Agri - Horticulture Society of Western India. Till date, the same society is carrying out functions and doing the needful for this botanical bounty.

Shows and Exhibitions

The Empress Garden is popular for its flower show Buds and Blooms. The show is organised every year and is renowned for its beautiful floral exhibits. Flowers in pots, creepers, small trees in containers and lovely canopies and what not. For more clarity and information on every specimen, a placard is erected for each variety that states the name, scientific name and gives little knowledge about the same like origin and conducive weather conditions etc.  This show is a must visit for gardening enthusiasts as one can get lovely ideas on planning your garden. In 2019, roses and dahlias were the cornerstones of the exhibition.

In the year 2017, Basant Utsav was organised at The Empress Garden by Bangiya Sanskriti Samsad (Pune’s oldest Bengali Association) to celebrate cultural dance and folk songs. The key focus like always was on Rabindranath Tagore’s songs and dance dramas. This was followed by tree plantation and some trees were given to the garden too.

Insights

The garden looks amazing in bloom season with flowerbeds everywhere. It’s because of this that it is popular among the people of Pune for pre-wedding photo shoots. However, prior permission from the society is required.

In the year 2018, the Government of Pune sent a notice to the society to acquire a part of the land that was not under the 30-year-old lease deed dated 1938 for construction of residences for its officers. However, with the support of the locals and environmentalists, this decision has been put on hold recognising the need for green patches in the city.

The Empress Garden has always been a preferred location for love birds ever since its inception. Today when the local police are keeping a vigilant eye on lovers in public, this green space looks like a blessing from cupid. Suresh Pingale’s (garden secretary) new motto is “Love birds don’t worry, come and sit on our branches.”

A part of the garden is the palm section that hosts more than 150 species out of which 125 are local and rare.

There is also a collection of tropical trees and a small zoo.

The green lawns are open for yoga and sports like cricket and football.

The adults who come here to rejuvenate don’t have to worry about their kids as there is a library, arrangement for indoor games and a play area for kids.

The main products derived from the garden are mangoes, tamarind and fresh flowers.

The Lotus Pond looks strikingly spectacular during sunny days when the surface of the water reflects the sunlight and illuminates every lotus in the pond.

Tips

  • Make sure that you don’t skip the nursery especially during their annual flower show. There you can see how saplings are prepared. Bonus? You can take one or two saplings home of your choice.
  • Ask the experts and gardeners in charge to explain to you the process or take you for a tour.
  • There is a snack corner in the garden that offer a great variety of tidbits. From sandwiches to refreshing juices and other drinks, you can grab a quick bite of your liking at very cheap rates.
  • The Empress Garden owing to its pleasing environment - away from the concrete jungle, it’s a good option for a family picnic.
  • There is an arrangement of proper benches to sit just in case you get tired walking.
  • A few years back the place was in a pitiable condition due to careless littering by visitors. Keeping that in mind adequate dustbins have been installed and people are requested not to litter.

How To Reach Empress Garden

The Empress Garden is located in Kavade Mala area in Ghorpadi. It’s near the Pune Race Course which is just 1.7 km away from the garden and is a three-minute drive by car through the Akluj - Phule Nagar road and Prince of Wales Road. One can easily get there by hiring a rickshaw or a cab. This is the shortest route to get to the garden.

The next option is by taking a bus. This is a relatively long route and it will take 16 minutes to get to the garden because the bus will also stop at other halts too. Furthermore, this place is just 3 km away from the Pune Railway Station. Again hiring a cab is a great idea.

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