Explore a vast natural expanse where a popular type of Indian tea was cultivated. It is also home to one of the world’s widest trees.
Take some time out from the city to enjoy the peace and natural beauty of the Botanical Gardens in Kolkata. Walk among bamboos and palms, go for a boat ride and marvel at the Great Banyan Tree.
The gardens were founded in 1787 by the East India Company to cultivate plants that would be of commercial value, such as Assam tea. Today, the gardens are an important venue for horticultural research. More than 12,000 plants and shrubs from 1,400 species are spread out over 273 acres (110 hectares).
Stroll along the avenue of Cuban palms and sit under the shade of mango and tamarind trees. Explore the Medicinal Plant Garden and marvel at the huge lotus leaves in some of the ponds. Visit the Large Palm House to see double coconuts. These palm trees have the largest seeds in the plant kingdom.
The centerpiece of the gardens is the Great Banyan Tree, which has branches and roots that cover an area of more than 3 acres (1.5 hectares). This enormous natural landmark is more than 250 years old and looks more like a forest than a single tree. To appreciate its immense size, walk along the path built around its circumference and then pass under the giant canopy.
Relax on one of the many benches dotted around the gardens or get out on the water by renting a paddle boat at the Kings Lake.
The Botanical Gardens are situated on the west bank of the Hooghly River, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Kolkata. Reach the gardens by bus or train from the center of town. If you choose to drive, on-site metered parking is available.
The gardens are open Tuesday to Sunday from early morning until early evening and there is a small admission charge. A supplementary fee applies if you want to use your camera, including cell phone cameras. Visitors are not permitted to bring food and drink into the gardens.