Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens and the Bull Temple

During our first day in India, we went sight-seeing to Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens and the Bull Temple. We visited the famous Glass House and enjoyed seeing different types of bonsais and other flora. We're already being immersed in the local culture and even enjoyed fresh coconuts from a street vendor!
Lal Bagh

For our first day in India, we headed out to Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens (Red Gardens) right away in the morning. The entire area of Lal Bagh is 250 acres, and as a group we didn't get close to seeing all of it. However, we were still able to enjoy quite a bit of the gardens.

The park has more than 1,000 flora species, and I was personally fascinated by the diverse amount of tree species throughout the park. There is even a section designated to bonsais. There must have been at least 100 different types, all with unique characteristics and defined growth in result of the bonsai artists.


After viewing the bonsais, we headed to the Glass House.


This is actually modeled after London's Crystal Palace and was designed in 1838 by John Cameron.


Continuing on the stroll....


One great sensory aspect of Lal Bagh was all the sounds. The birds especially contributed to this and added another element to the botanical gardens that is often lost in this kind of setting.


I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at Lal Bagh and would like to go back and walk through parts we didn't have a chance to see.


The Bull Temple

After visiting the botanical gardens, we then drove to the Bull Temple, or Dodda Ganeshana Gudi. There are many vendors around the temple, but one of the most popular vendors was selling coconuts. While waiting for the tour guide we were all treated with fresh coconuts! They were delicious and the process of eating it is fun - first you drink the milk, then eat the flesh inside. The man who sold us the coconuts was impressive both in his speed and skill of perfectly splitting the fruit with a curved machete.


The coconut was bigger than Raj's head!


The temple is very old (1537) and was built in the Vijayanagara architectural style. The exterior of the temple is incredibly ornate and contains various religious motifs/images of gods around the perimeter.


Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of the large granite bull and the rest of the temple. The symbol of the bull is very significant in Hindu religion as it's thought to be the guardian of the god Shiva. Apparently if you tell the bull your secrets/desires, they will come true.

The temple is significant for many reasons, but it is especially sought out because it contains one of the largest granite bull murtis in the world. The temple was like nothing I've been to before, and the detail put into the architecture was astounding.

While waiting outside the temple, a visiting couple asked if they could take a picture with me. Then when one of the group leaders suggested I have my picture taken with them as well!


After the temple visit, we had a great lunch. Overall, the day was eventful and exciting. I already feel that I have gained new insights!