A roughly 30-minute drive is all it takes to escape the crowded center of Kolkata, India, and arrive at Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, which is located in the small suburb of Shibpur. I visited the collection of botanical gardens during a two-month-long stay in Kolkata, and the tranquility proved to be a much-needed break from the constant car honking that floods the streets of the city center.
One could easily spend the day exploring the nearly 270-acre gardens, which is home to more than 12,000 types of plants. The easiest way to get around the area is by following the man-made trail that circles around the entire park, making sure visitors have a chance to see every major attraction it offers.
Perhaps the most famous landmark in the garden is The Great Banyan Tree. On the outside, it looks like a forest made up of several trees. But, in reality, it is one single tree with roots that grow aerially while still staying connected to the floor. The main trunk of the tree has since been removed after it died in order for the rest of the tree to remain healthy. A monument for the trunk has since been erected in the middle of the area; however, guests are only allowed to walk the perimeter of the tree.
Temperatures during the time of my visit ranged between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, with a humidity level at around 80 percent. But it felt cooler at the garden thanks to the tall trees that provided shade as I walked the main pathway. There were plenty of benches to sit on and enjoy the scenery, and I would have been content spending the day there.
Unfortunately, water bottles are not allowed inside, and there are no vendors selling refreshments, either. Although it did feel cooler in the park, the constant presence of humidity didn’t stop the perspiration and ensuing thirst.
The botanical garden is open every day, and admission fee is around $1.50, or 100 rupees. There is also an additional fee of about 31 cents, or 21 rupees, to take photos within the garden.