Lalbagh Spring walk : Remembering Rao Bahadur HC Javaraya.

Lalbagh Spring walk : Remembering Rao Bahadur HC Javaraya.

 

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About The Event

Bengalurubyfoot is proud to announce a special Spring walk in Lalbagh this month to commemorate the life & achievements of Rao Bahadur H.C.Javaraya. This walk will be curated by renowned artist Shri. Suresh Jayaram.

The ticket cost for this walk is 750/- INR with 50% discount for senior citizens and children in the age group of 9-16 years. For more details send an email to "bengalurubyfoot@gmail.com".

Here is a brief about the matter to be covered in our special Lalbagh walk.
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Rao Bahadur H.C.JAVARAYA : An Enduring Legacy with the History of Horticulture in India.

The name of Rao Bahadur H.C Javaraya (1889-1946) is deeply etched in the history of horticulture in India and in the erstwhile Mysore state. His major contributions to the defining of aesthetics of public spaces, development of gardens and horticulture has left an indelible mark and is a living legacy of nature and culture. 

This recollection remembers him, his distinguished family members and honors their contributions to the state of Karnataka.

The Mysore State was envisioning itself to be a model state and Mysore a royal city in India. The enlightened King Krishnarajendra Wodeyar and his Dewan Sir Mirza Ismail (from 1926 to 1941), were both great lovers of gardens and parks. Sir Mirza created gardens, parks and beautiful squares in towns and cities. The citizen was envisioned to be a disciplined, productive and progressive member of society. The city was supposed to be designed to enhance these visions. 

Bangalore and Mysore during the colonial times were emerging as fertile labs to experiment with the harnessing of nature; trees and plants were imported, acclimatized and nurtured to become part of the local landscape. In the early 19th Century the German Horticulturist G.H.Krumbiegel, with his intimate knowledge of tree species and city planning, was articulating landscape design as an occupation in the larger public works department in the Mysore Kingdom. He was ahead of his time and set a trend in the Indian subcontinent, in the process creating an unsurpassed horticultural legacy. 

H.C. Javaraya the eldest son came from a distinguished family of Rao Sahib Lokasevanirtha H.Chennaiah, Judge in Coorg (circa 1880) and member of Legislative Council after retirement. When G.H. Krumbiegel was interned to Ooty for four years by the British government, the 30 year old H.C Javaraya was made Superintendent of Government gardens and his worthy “native” successor. Soon H.C.Javaraya went on to train at the distinguished Royal Botanical Garden at Kew(kew gardens), London and he returned with greater confidence and expertise. Visions for the idea of a model state were translated by enlightened individuals like him.

During his tenure H.C.Javaraya was entrusted with improving Lalbagh Botanical Garden and Cubbon Park, Nandi Hills and the Fruit Research Stations at Hessaraghatta and Maddur. Soon the Maharaja entrusted him with the responsibility of the public gardens in Mysore, the Royal Fruit Orchard ‘Madhuvana’ at the foothills of Chamundi Hills and the popular Brindavan Gardens at the Krishnaraja Sagar dam.

The efforts of Krumbiegel in retaining the identity of the city as a garden were continued by the perseverance and hard work of H.C.Javaraya. His dedication and visionary zeal to establish and sustain agricultural marketing and nurture many gardens and orchards fulfilled the public vision of Mysore as a modern state. After the retirement of G.H.Krumbiegel, who was Superintendent of Government Gardens and the Director of Horticulture, H.C.Javaraya took over this responsibility and served with passion and dedication. As the chief officer in the Department of Horticulture he was a pioneer. He added to the process of the colonial enterprise of constructing urban landscape and arboriculture. The laying out of the city and its landscape became an important agenda, and changed the way that town planning and landscaping would structure modern India. 

The initial planning of the city during the colonial period and during the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Krisharajendra Wodeyar in pre-independent India was a significant marker for the identity of the state and Bangalore as a modern city. The city did not take urban ecology for granted, avenue planting was explored and mastered, and Bangalore was recognized for the sheer variety of species that had become part of the city’s urban heritage. 

H.C. Javaraya was aesthetically inclined, emulated the British from his stay at London. He was a keen golfer and tennis player. During his eventful tenure he extended the Glass house in 1935, fashioned after the Crystal Palace with a Eastern (fourth) wing by steel from the newly operational Mysore Iron and Steel Works in Bhadravathi .The previous three wings were constructed from M/s. MacFarlane Company,Glasgow. The expansion was not only aesthetic but strategically aligned with an eastern wing for symmetry making it a perfect cross with wooden trellis to complement.

H.C.Javaraya valued the craftsmanship of vernacular architecture and undertook many aesthetic reconstructions. A significant effort in this regard was the transplantation of a lantern shaped granite guard watch tower that was dismantled from ‘Poorna Prasad”- the residence of Dewan P.N.Krishnamurthy and installed at the Basavanagudi gate in Lalbagh. It has remained as a prominent and elegant landmark of Bangalore city and is now popularly called “West Gate”.

Another creative addition by H.C. Javaraya was the water cascade in Lalbagh that connected the larger tank to a smaller lotus pond. The pond is surrounded by cave like structures that had caged animals before the local zoo was transferred to Mysore. The Maddur Fruit Orchard,the Ganjam Fig garden and the Government Fruit Research Station in Hessaraghatta were founded by Javaraya. The famed locally produced apple variety –“Rome Beauty” whose cultivation was pioneered by John Cameroon was reintroduced to Bangalore at the Fruit Research Station.He also cultivated “Rome Beauty” in his private orchard, the Happy Valley Estate at 
Uttarahalli,outskirts of Bangalore. He introduced concepts like ‘tree surgery’ which he learned during his tenure at Kew Gardens to prune and shape trees and then strengthen the trunk (arboriculture) to avoid fatal accidents by falling trees in urban settings.

In retrospect the contribution of H.C.Javaraya is significant in many ways. His work ethics, meticulousness and aesthetic eye had made him a much sought-after expert in the fields of landscape and horticulture. His distinguished service in the princely states of Mysore and Bhopal is noteworthy. He articulated a department that nurtured botany as an economic and aesthetic vocation in pre-independent India. He was also involved in the landscape planning and beautification of Delhi’s avenues and gardens and introduced flower shows at Delhi. He was bestowed the coveted honor of “Rao Bahadur” by the Viceroy of India, the Marquis of Linlithgow in 1940 for his contributions to the nation. 

He was one of the few horticulturists to have received the Kew Garden Fellowship, Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society (FRHS) and the even rarer distinction of being a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London (F.L.S), an honour given to one Naturalist a year the world over. The Society established in 1788 at London is one of the most prestigious forums for natural history in the world. 

Post retirement, the The Nawab of Bhopal requested his services as an agricultural and horticultural advisor to the princely state of Bhopal, and he died in harness in Bhopal in January 1946. During his tenure as a horticultural director at Lalbagh, Dr. Mari Gowda was inducted to the department to start another trajectory of horticultural development. Today a roundabout outside the main gate of Lalbagh leading to MTR restaurant is named in honor of Javaraya as Rao Bahadur H.C. Javaraya, as a token for his services and to remind us of another life and time to be emulated.

-Suresh Jayaram.