Tucked away, yet within walking distance from Cunningham road is this yesteryear atmosphere retaining, erstwhile royal property known by the name of Manikyavelu Mansion. It today sits pretty as the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Bengaluru. Anyway what leads me here is this ‘Tour of Trees’ advertisement of the NGMA Arboretum; a leaflet with 28 varieties of trees marked out, like little clumps of treasures within the gallery grounds. It seemed to deliver a quiet promise much like a tree itself!
Some five minutes before the scheduled time of 3:30PM on that Saturday, I find myself walking toward the small gathering at the entrance. I make it after cancelled plans leave the weekend suddenly free. I make it there rather hesitantly; the initial excitement gradually giving way to creeping doubts of uncertainty. Some free time and this is what the mind can do at times! What if it turns out to be just another hyped event…etc., etc.!
It turns out this is the second of the ‘tree walks’ being organized by them. The crowd is rather enthusiastically large for a summer afternoon. The organizers themselves seem pleasantly surprised!
After a short informal briefing just outside the newly supplemented gallery block we are introduced to Mr. Vijay Thiruvady who is already there, standing, part of the crowd. He is, I guess a fairly well known name in Bangalore as the man who actively leads the Sunday morning walks at LalBagh gardens. (Check out www.bangalorewalks.com). Mr. Thiruvady, a trustee of Bangalore Environment Trust is an engineer turned naturalist who has also recently authored a book titled ‘Heritage Trees, in and around Bangalore’.
Today’s focus we are told is mostly going to be around the trees that are in bloom.
The group that has gathered is of a mixed age group from kids to silver haired elders. And no one ambles during the walk, no one… thanks to the Mr. Thiruvady’s brisk pace. We start with the red silk cotton tree. He stands close to the base of the tall, silk cotton tree and the group forms a relaxed yet eager semi-circle beside him. The towering tree stands starkly devoid of its leaves and adorned with bright red flowers, flame like and supremely attractive. He dons a small straw summer hat and begins.
It is a passionate delivery of names, nicknames, scientific names, its origins, its possible age, its behavior and quite a few snippets of stories surrounding it. By the looks of it he has us all hooked.
So there we go spending the next two hours of the afternoon moving upstairs and downstairs, into and out of the gallery blocks to take the closest possible look at the trees and listen to the many interesting facts and tales surrounding these fragile giants of this world.
More such walks… longer ones? I sure am game! Here are a few pictures…