A Brief History of the
Trivandrum Museum, Zoo and Gardens
The Trivandrum Zoo, Museum and Gardens is one of the oldest of its kind in India. Swathi Thirunal (1813-1847), illustrious king and music composer who ruled southern Kerala (Travancore) during 1830-1847 may be said to be the visionary behind establishment of the Trivandrum Zoo and Museum. Immediately after his assumption of power, he modernized the horse breeding establishment at Thovalay and some fine mares were procured. The best elephants from the forest Department and other places were selected and cantoned at Trivandrum. To the Trivandrum stables was
The Museum in its current form was started in the year 1853. It owes its origin to the joint efforts of J.A. Brown, then Director of the Trivandrum Observatory and General William Cullen, then British Resident. The Government approved of Brown's idea of starting a Museum in a part of his Bungalow, and General Cullen offered certain specimens of Travancore rocks which formed the earliest collection in the institution.
In order to place the Museum on a surer and more satisfactory basis a society was organized in 1855 with Sri Uthram Thirunal the Maharaja of Travancore as Patron, the British Resident as President, the Elaya Raja as Vice-President and Mr. Brown as Secretary of the Society and Director of Museum. Its objective was to afford instruction and encouragement in arts and crafts by the exhibition of specimens of interest in natural history and products of art and industry, indigenous and foreign. After a few years the Society ceased to exist
In 1859 Uthram Thirunal sanctioned a sum of money for the purchase of models of machinery and other scientific apparatus. Subsequent additions including foreign and native ornamental works in silver, ivory and sandal-wood were contributed by the Government and by private individuals.
1873 the Museum was temporarily moved to a large hall in the Public Office buildings. In 1879 a Superintendent was appointed to the place of the Curator who functioned till then. The management of the Museum together with that of the Public Gardens which came into existence in 1859 was entrusted to a Committee consisting of the British Resident and three European members, one of whom was the Honorary Secretary.In 1880 the new building designed by Chisholm, Architect to the Government of Madras and named after Lord Napier, a Governor of Madras,
was occupied. The building is of considerable architectural beauty. Three big hall connected by long corridors of panes and Nartistically painted walls, both inside and outside, constitute the main scheme of the building. The exhibits are arranged in their proper order and groups. Chief among the exhibits are a splendid collection of natural history specimens, and certain specimens valuable in ethnology and art. The model of a Nair house, a relief map of Travancore, and an ivory model of a human skeleton made in Trivandrum by Travancore workemen, under the command of Uthram Thirunal MarthandaVarma (for his own study this was made in ivory to overcome religious taboos) are among the important exhibits. The exhibits are classified into different sections such as indigenous arts, crafts and industries, archaeology, natural history, ethnology and geology.
building owes its beauty partly to its fine setting in a beautifully undulating
park. 50 acres of hill and dale are tastefully laid out in paths and terraces,
lawns and lakes, shrubberies, flower-beds and conservatories, interspersed
with the runs and cages of the Zoo. Beginning from the lower level of the
lake, the ground rises tier on tier till it spreads into an extensive terrace
converted into an ornamental garden known as the Top Garden on which the
Museum stands. The premises all around are provided with comfortable accommodation
for visitors. Long flights of steps and grassy slopes leading down to the
lake with clumps of golden bamboos and stately trees form the chief feature
of short, the beauty of the Trivandrum Public Gardens lay in its excellent
layout. It may be mentioned in this connection that as in the case of the
Museum, in the case of the Botanical Gardens too, it was an Englishman by
name Mr. Ingleby who prepared ................................. the layout
The Zoo is the most popular of the three sections of this institution. It was started in 1859 with gracious gift by His Highness the Uthram Thirunal Maharaja of his small palace menagerie which consisted of a few important animals like Tigers. The collection is mainly representative of the Fauna of Kerala. Since its inception the number of animals kept in the Zoo has been showing progressive increase. During the years 1880-90 the provision of improved accommodation to the animals of the Zoo, the number of which had by this time swelled to about 300, received special attention. A magnificent house for the larger carnivore designed on the model of the cages of the Zoological Gardens of London was constructed. Such rare animals as the Ourang Outang, Malay Tapir and Rhinoceros, were exhibited in the Zoo even in those early days. By 1935 the steady development of the Zoo necessitated the acquisition of additional grounds. The lions and tigers were provided with the nearest approximation to their natural habitat. Today the Zoo contains a fairly representative collection of animals and birds both indigenous and exotic.
Side by side with the development of the Zoo attention was also paid for the improvement of the garden by the construction of green houses, introduction of new species of plants, opening of additional flower beds and relaying of garden paths having due regard to the scenic effect of the landscape. Fresh land was acquired to extend the area of the Zoo and gardens and new features like the cultivation of medicinal plants and herbs were introduced.
Report on the
Trivandrum Museum by Allen Broun, first Director of Museum, 1856 (Edited
in 1874 by Mr. Brown.)
Report on the Trivandrum Museum & Museum Society, by Allen Broun, 1865 (Edited in 1874 by Mr. Brown.)
Report on the Public Park & Gardens, Trivandrum by Allen Broun, 1865 (Edited in 1874 by Mr. Brown.)
1. REPORT FOR 1856 ON THE TREVANDRUM MUSEUM
The following Report, addressed to Lieut-General Cullen, British Resident of Travancore and Cochin, for the information of His Highness the Rajah of Travancore, was read to the Trevandrum Museum Society, 23rd December 1856:-
"Within the last year several donations have been made by different persons, Europeans and natives.
"It was expected that many of the articles sent to the Madras Exhibition in 1855 would have been returned and retained in the Museum; but, unfortunately, none has ever yet found its way back.
"I wrote to the Curator of the Madras Museum desiring some contributions, which I supposed might be easily given from the ordinary products, mineral or others, of the country round Madras. I was induced to do this, because the Museum at Madras proposed to encourage the local museums by such donations, and because I was aware that that Museum possessed many donations from this place. I am sorry to say that I never received even a reply to my letters.
"With reference to the donations made by different persons to the Museum here, I have made it a rule not only to notice them in the printed Proceedings of the Museum Society, but also I have, in every case without exception, myself written a letter of acknowledgement and thanks.
"I have done what I could to encourage the Europeans in different parts of Travancore (having written to many of them directly) to forward some specimens to the Museum. I cannot say that I have often been successful, although, from the goodwill shown in the replies received, I have still much to hope for.
collection being made by a local committee, named by yourself, for an exhibition
at Madras in 1857, presented an opportunity for securing duplicates of any
thing curious that might be forwarded from the different districts. I am
sorry again to say that the duplicates worth retaining have been very few.
The whole collection, however, is to be returned to the Museum when the
exhibition has ceased.*
was. A Collection of every product of the country was always ready at the
request of the Madras Government, but my own efforts to obtain one were
left unheeded. I sought, by the publication of the above arrangement, to
secure the return of the collection, but failed. The Madras Museum absorbed
everything; it was not difficult to obtain permission to do so. I doubt
if even now it has ever made the smallest contribution to the Trevendrum
Museum. If the Museum has grown to be anything, the fight I had to begin
it, and to keep it going during twelve years, should not be left unnotted.
– May 1874)
"I beg now to offer a few suggestions for the future. There need be little difficulty in obtaining a complete series of well specimens from different parts of Travancore. For this end I request that you will recommend to the Travancore Sirkar that the Proverticar in each adygarum be instructed to secure specimens from each well opened in his district; * (Wells are being continually made, and these reach frequently to 50 feet deep.) that the specimens be cubes of about 4 inches, that they be taken from each successive kole in depth, and numbered 1,2, &c., commencing at the surface. Of course, I shall be happy to write detailed instructions for the officers as soon as the Sirkar sanctions the proposal. It will be possible in this way to arrive at a tolerably complete knowledge of the geological character of the country.
"I have ordered specimens of the birds of Travancore that can be obtained to be stuffed and mounted as well as that can be done here.
"I have the honour to request, with reference to paragraph 4, No. 698, extract Minutes of Consultation, dated 11th July 1854, that you will bring to the notice of the Madras Government the existence of a Museum for Travancore at Trevandrum, and that it is much to be desired that the Museum receive some contributions from the Madras Presidency at the present time, when the Museum has its first and greatest difficulties to overcome. I believe that the greater part of the contributions by the Travancore Sirkar to the Madras Exhibition of 1855 found its way into the Madras Museum.
"One of the most important departments of the Museum should be that devoted to models or specimens of tools and machines likely to be useful in the agricultural or manufacturing employments of the country. To obtain such specimens from Europe will require a money grant for the purpose. Local exhibitions will not only be useful in stimulating and informing the native operatives, but thay will put the country into a state for forming exhibitions in other quarters: at present Travancore can show no more in the Madras Exhibition of 1857 than it showed in that of 1855 (it will not show so much). The people cannot understand what they have never seen or felt the use of, and in consequence no good can possibly result to Travancore workmen by the exhibition to the people of Madras of the position they occupy – the position they have long occupied, and are likely to occupy, unless some nearer stimulus is found.
"I would recommend that the Museum, however deficient it may be at present, be opened to the public, without charge at first, in the commencement of 1857.
"The sum proposed to be allowed for the Museum was 50 rupees per mensem; only 20 rupees have been received. I would request that the balance be allowed for the purchase of such standard works as are necessary for the proper arrangement of the specimens received into the Museum, and of articles occasionally to be obtained cheaply and worthy of a place in the Museum.
|"December 23, 1856."||"John Allan Broun."|
are being continually made, and these reach frequently to 50 feet deep.
2. REPORT ON THE
TREVANDRUM MUSEUM AND MUSEUM SOCIETY,
By John Allan Broun, Esq., F.R.S., on Resigning Charge.
The Reporter proposed to General Cullen in 1852, shortly after his arrival in India, the formation of a Museum at Trevandrum; but it was not till the beginning of 1853 that any economical plan could be suggested by which a building for that purpose could be obtained.
In 1852 the house now containing the Museum and Public Library was occupied by the director of the Observatory; but as it was not near enough to the Observatory, he left it to reside in another on the Observatory hill, intended for his European assistant. He was then able to offer the western half of the building for the purposes of a Museum, reserving the eastern half for his European assistant (ultimately given over by him to the Public Library). General Cullen had, many years before, made a proposition to the Madras Government by which local Museums should be established, with a central Museum at Madras; and he readily supported the Reporter's proposition to the Madras Government by which local Museums should be established, with a central Museum at Madras; and he readily supported the Reporter's proposition in the preset instance. He also forwarded to him during the same year some mineralogical specimens as the first donations to the Museum.
It was not, however, till 1855 that, encouraged by the example given by the Madras Government in 1854, the Museum was officially founded. At that date a meeting was held at the Public Library (now the Traveller's Bungalow Cantonment)- General Cullen in the chair – when propositions were made, founding the Museum, and a Society connected with it, whose object was the study of questions and the publication of papers on scientific subjects, and especially such as would be likely to aid in developing the resources of the country, and in elevating the mental and physical status of the natives.
His Highness the Rajah was elected Patron; General Cullen, President; His Highness the present Rajah, then First Prince, Vice-President; and the Reporter, Secretary of the Society, and Director and Collector for the future Museum.
The Society held several meetings at different times, the proceedings of which were printed and circulated; but during the last years no papers were presented, and the Society has been dormant. It is to be hoped, however, that it may yet fulfill some part of the objects in view at its foundation.
Several works of utility have been presented to its Library, especially by the late General Cullen; and His Highness the Maharajah has been pleased, on the Reporter's recommendation through the Dewan, to sanction the transfer to it of the very important scientific library hitherto belonging to the Observatory.
The Museum received considerable presents from different persons, especially from General Cullen, who was the most liberal contributor. The Sirkar granted an allowance during the first years of rupees 20, and lately of rupees 50 per mensem for the establishment of writer, peons, and minor expenses, which have included the keep of a few animals, the residues of a collection which will be alluded to in another Report on the Public Gardens.
Collections of birds have been made, but they have been indifferently stuffed, and it has been impossible to keep them in order; the same remark applies to insects.
His Highness the late Rajah, in 1859, allowed a sum of rupees 2000 for models of machines and apparatus, and several other models or articles of manufacture have been presented by His Highness. Private individuals have long ceased to contribute.
The collection is as yet but the foundation upon which a Museum of any pretensions may be built. The great difficulty has been in the first instance of no fixed annual sum being allowed by the Sirkar, for the purchase of the articles required to carry forward the Museum. In the next place, little can be expected from an honorary officer, whose time has been so fully occupied as that of the Reporter, and who has not felt his efforts, such as they were always supported in the way he could have wished.
would recommend that the Musuem henceforth should be placed under the charge
of a committee of gentlemen, each of whom would be willing to undertake
a department, and whose name would be associated with it, while one of these
gentlemen would conduct the business as president of the committee and officer
The departments might be,-
1st, Geological, connected especially with the geology of the country. The Reporter has tried to obtain specimens from the several districts, and made a beginning in the arrangement for the geology of each district. He pointed out that if specimens from wells only, dug in the several districts, were forwarded by the local officers, much might be done for the object in view.
2d, Ornithological, Entomological. One gentleman versed on the subjects of this department might find useful occupation.
Instrumental. The Reporter has long ago recommended that formation of a
collection of apparatus which might be useful in public lectures, and in
certain researches connected with the produce of the country, preparation
of fibres, production of oils, cultivation of cereals, &c., and such
a collection has been begun. The Reporter has to regret that he has not
been able himself to use some of these apparatus as he proposed for the
purposes of lectures, &c. This department might include models of machines
4th, Useful and Fine Arts, including allied subjects.
5th, Botanical and Agricultural, Collections of plants have been presented to the Museum, but they are limited, and in bad state.
It is not necessary to enter into the details of the difficulties which
have come in the way of the Reporter before he could make the Museum even
what it is. The letter-books of the Museum will certify the efforts made.
He is thoroughly aware of the little he has done compared with what wished
to do, but some excuse may be found in the little encouragement he has received
and his other various without noticing his fruitless efforts during several
years to obtain some return from the Madras Museum for the many contributions
to it from this Government, and from General Cullen; perhaps this notice
may reach the eye of the Madras Government, and attain the result which
he so frequently sought.
|John Allan Broun||Trivandrum, April 12, 1865.|
3. REPORT ON THE PUBLIC PARK AND GARDENS, TREVANDRUM
In 1853, when the Reporter recommended the establishment of a Museum, he also recommended to General Cullen the employment of the large compound occupied by the Reporter, in which the Museum buildings are, for a Public Park, containing the useful trees of the country. No further steps were, however,
taken in connection with the suggestion for some years, excepting that the Reporter endeavoured to form a collection of the palms of Southern India, several of which were planted in the paddy-ground to the north of the Museum, part of which was employed by the Reporter as a kitchen garden.
In a letter
addressed to the Dewan, dated 14th March 1859, on the subject of the Museum,
the Reporter remarked that one great cause of attraction to the Madras Museum
was to be found, when visiting the Museum, in the collection of animals
in the surrounding grounds. The Dewan in reply expressed his readiness to
support any such scheme if recommended by the British Resident. In a demi-official
letter to general Cullen, the British Resident, dated 17th May 1859, the
advantages of a zoological collection were further pressed upon him, and
the necessity, in connection with this, to have the surrounding grounds
arranged as a Public Garden: the reporter added – " The soil
in the upper part (of the Museum compound) is formed of deep clay, containing
few of the rolled clay ironstones so common elsewhere, and, if well dug
and manured, most trees may be grown in it. I propose to ask the Dewan to
obtain for the Museum grounds young forest trees of kinds remarkable for
their utility as timber trees, or for their products. A moderate –
sized paddy-field to the north of the Museum grounds, in my possession,
might be devoted to plants; it has a good spring of water and tank; this,
with the Museum grounds well laid out, might form the commencement of a
popular Botanic Garden without interfering with your proposal to have a
garden devoted to the culture of important plants at a distance and in better
The Reporter then requested General Cullen to bring the whole subject to the notice of his Highness the Rajah, which he did, with his strong recommendation of the whole scheme.
The formation of zoological gardens was sanctioned by his Highness the late Rajah, and the Reporter requested (June 28, 1859) that the Sirkar Surveyor might be put in communication with him for the purposes of having a plan of the Museum grounds drawn up, and the grounds laid out. The Resident intimated to the Reporter that his Highness the Rajah would probably allow a selection of animals to be made from his own private collection, and General Cullen himself promised to add to it.
Surveyor having drawn a plan of the grounds, the Reporter laid down thereon
the plan of the gardens, the principal drives, &c. Prisoners were allowed
for the purpose of clearing the ground of jungle shrubs; and ground to the
north and east, secured by the Reporter some years before, with the public
garden in view, was added to the larger compound, while the purchase of
a few small compounds to the east was recommended (10th August 1856), and
two compounds purchased by the Reporter for an industrial school were offered,
on condition that, should the scheme be carried out, the school might still
find a place within the grounds. (In connection with my proposal for a Museum,
an Industrial School was also included, where I had hoped to train up some
of the wretched and debased, but legally emancipated, slaves of the soil
(Pulliars) to useful trades: this would have been a real emancipation. I
proposed to establish and conduct this institution at my own expense, but
the Sirkar's permission and aid in obtaining ground and procuring materials
for the building were necessary at the time (1856). The permission was granted,
and every support promised me; the ground was purchased, plans were drawn,
building materials paid for; models of various kinds were sought for from
Madras, when the Dewan, T. Kristna Row, prevented the transfer of the ground,
and put every difficulty in my way, so that I was obliged to postpone and
ultimately abandon this effort, though I was able ultimately to obtain other
ground, that mentioned in the Report. His Highness Rama Vurmah, the first
Prince of Travancore, whose literary talents and acquaintance with English
literature are well known, on establishing an Industrial School in 1862,
on the model of Dr. Hunter's at Madras, offered me the honorary direction,
which, however, the time at my disposal then did not permit me to accept.
The mode proposed by me for raising the Pulliars has yet to be put into
execution. Although these outcasts have had something done for their education
in outlying districts, the first useful effort for their education at Trevandrum
was due to my friend Dr. E.J. Waring, who founded a small school for their
use there in 1861. I believe I may name especially the Revs. Messrs Peat
and Baker, of the Church of these outcasts.) It was also suggested that
the godowns, stables, &c., still employed by the Reporter, might be
made use of for the wild animals. The Reporter conceives that the following
letter, dated 26th October 1859, will give as good an idea of the state
of matters at the time as any summary, while it explains the causes of delay
in carrying out the proposal:-
Observatory, 26th October 1859
T. Madava Row, Esq., Dewan of Travancore
My Dear Sir,
1. It is now nearly three months, I believe, since the Sirkar Surveyor began with me to lay out the plan of grounds in the new park. The Surveyor then delayed plotting off more than the prisoners could trace out in a short time, as the cords laid down were apt to be broken by cows. I, however, pointed out the necessity of laying down all the small paths as quickly as possible, in order to plant in their proper places the shrubs and trees proposed by me.
2. The Surveyor promised, on several occasions thereafter, to lay out these paths, and even fixed the days on which he would do so, but time after time he failed to complete his promise. Having at last lost all patience, I wrote to the Surveyor about four weeks ago, that unless he would promise (and perform his promise), I should feel myself obliged to write the Dewan on the subject. This I now do. The Surveyor has done nothing since that time, though he promised, as usual, to come next day. No prisoners have been present during the past weeks on the grounds.
3. The arrangements for the menagerie have not advanced a step. The Surveyor went over the premises with me. I pointed out all that was requisite, and did all that I could do to accelerate the changes.
(* In connection with my proposal for a Museum, an Industrial School was also included, where I had hoped to train up some of the wretched and debased, but legally emancipated, slaves of the soil (Pullairs) to useful trades: this would have been a real emancipation. I proposed to establish and conduct this institution at my own expense, but the Sirkar’s permission and aid in obtaining ground and procuring materials for the building were necessary at the time (1856). The Permission was granted, and every support promised me; the ground was purchased, plans were drawn, building materials paid for; models of various kinds were sought for from Madras, when the Dewan, T. Kristna Row, prevented the transfer of the ground, and put every difficulty in my way, so that I was obliged to postpone and ultimately abandon this effort, though I was able ultimately to obtain other ground, that mentioned in the Report. His Highness Rama Vurmah, the First Prince of Travancore, whose literary talents and acquaintance with English literature are well known, on establishing an Industrial school in 1862, on the model of Dr. Hunter’s at Madras, offered me the honorary direction, which however, the time at my disposal then did not permit me to accept. The mode proposed by me for raising the Pulliars has yet to be put into exceution. Although these outcasts have had something done for their education in outlying districts, the first useful effort for their education at Trevandrum was due to my friend Dr. E.J. Waring, who founded a small school for their use there in 1861. I believe I may name especially the Revs. Messrs Peat and Baker, of the Church of England Mission, and the Rev. Mr. Mateer, of the London Mission, for their efforts in the country on behalf of these outcasts.)
4. General Cullen has long ago informed me that the animals he proposed presenting would be sent to the grounds whenever I could receive them. I shall write General Cullen to-day to forward them. General Cullen has offered to be at the expense of the keep of the animals till the other arrangements have been made.
5. I am not aware whether the purchase of the small compounds to the east of the Museum grounds has been completed.
6. The prisoners have cleared the jungle from all the ground which was under my charge as His Highness Astronomer, including the slopes on each side of the paddy-field.
7. You are aware that I had devoted this paddy-field (which, with the upper part to the west, covers, 5½ acres), to the purposes of a Botanical Garden. General Cullen had long ago proposed a Botanical Garden, intended chiefly for useful purposes, in Neddoovengad. The Botanical Garden near the Museum I had proposed as a popular institution, and I had brought specimens of many different kinds of palms from the hills two years ago, which were planted in the garden. Some plants of rare trees were also presented to the Botanical Garden by Major Drury at the same time. Great part of these, I am sorry to say, have perished for want of care, the sirkar having allowed no gardener. I have planted the seeds of the Sorgho you sent me in the same ground, but it would be desirable to have one or two superior native gardeners to look after the grounds. Such gardeners might probably be got from the Neilgherries or Madras at moderate salaries and, if authorized, I shall write and make the necessary inquiries.
8. The paddy-field alluded to has, I believe, as good soil as any other near Threvandrum. It has an excellent spring of water, fit to water the grounds at all seasons, and fitted, as I have already informed you, for supplying the tank in which I propose planting the Victoria regia. It can also be enlarged by purchase at any time, as it is only a branch of a large valley of paddy-fields.
9. I have already mentioned Mr. White's compound as an excellent addition to our public gardens: but I might add that I believe the soil of great part of that compound to be as good as any that can be found for some distance from Trevandrum. For some miles around Trevandrum the soil is chiefly formed of decomposed laterite. In some places there is a depth of 5 or 6 feet of tolerably pure clay, with a little quartz. On the sides of the slopes there is much clay ironstone, in the form of water – worn pebbles; the soils containing these clay ironstones are the poorest, and the pure clay soils are the best to be had near Trevandrum: nothing like vegetable soils or granitic soils are to be seen here. For all these reasons, and white's compound is well worth purchasing.
10. The monsoon is now passing, and I would therefore request you to obtain from Mr. Kohlhoff, or elsewhere, some hundreds of plants of ornamental and useful shrubs and trees.
11. I would conclude by pointing out the necessity for some more business-like arrangements if these useful works are to progress, and that no responsibility rests on me with reference to the delays which have occurred. – I am, my dear Sir, yours sincerely,
(Signed) JOHN ALLAN BROUN.
General Cullen presented, in the end of 1856, two Arabian sheeps and two marabouts. The Reporter left Trevendrum for Europe in January 1860, having laid out a considerable portion of the grounds, and having left instructions as to what was required for the planting of trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, no steps whatever were taken in the prosecution of the scheme during his absence. After his return from Europe in January 1862, the Reporter brought the subject to the notice of the Resident, Mr. Maltby, who, being about to leave Travancore, left the consideration of what aid should be given to his successor, Mr. Fisher. The Reporter on several occasions expressed to Mr. Fisher his willingness to carry out the plan of the gardens and zoological collection.
T. Madava Row, Esq., the Dewan, intimated to the Reporter, on the 9th July-1862, that His Highness the Rajah had sanctioned the transfer of his zoological collection to the Museum grounds, and it was desirable to have proper arrangements for the reception of the animals. The Reporter found ultimately that he could not undertake the construction of cages and buildings for this purpose, having had much difficulty with other works connected with his special duties as Director of the Observatory. The Sirkar then placed the construction under the care of the Public Works Department, but the head engineer having declined the work, it has ultimately, the Reporter understands, been given to the Marahmut department, where it may be expected to remain.
It was only in July 1864 that the Sirkar adopted the suggestion made in the Reporter's letter of 26th October 1859, and obtained a gardener from Madras. Mr. Smith, who had acted as gardener to the Horticultural society of Madras, was recommended by Dr. A. Hunter, the Secretary to the Madras Horticultural Soceity, and Dr. Hunter, making a tour through Southern India for various purposes, brought Mr. Smith with him to Trevandrum; at the same time Dr. Hunter examined the grounds around the Museum, and gave him opinion that they were better fitted for the object in view than any other ground he had seen near. His highness the Rajah also kindly consented to give the hill on which his private bungalow is placed to the east of the grounds, to form part of the public gardens. The original plans of the garden made by the Reporter in 1859 could not be found, and Dr. Hunter being furnished with an outline map, undertook to draw up a plan which might aid the Reporter in preparing another.
Meanwhile the principal drives were limited by the contours of the grounds, and these roads were proceeded with immediately, the Reporter carrying them chiefly on gradients of 1 in 100; the greatest variation being on a drive to the top of the hill on which His Highness bungalow is placed, and this varied from 1 in 60 below to 1 in 40 near the top, the latter gradient being forced by the position of certain outhouses. The length of drives within the grounds is about 2¾ miles, and there were previously about 800 yards of drive on His Highness hill, with steeper gradients which have been connected with the new drives, and will be useful when it is desired to descend more rapidly that by the easier gradients.
The Reporter delayed for some time carrying out the other details of the garden, in expectation of the receipt of Dr. Hunter's plan; as that did not arrive, and the Reporter's original plan was found among the papers of the Public Works Department, the Reporter having made some changes, proceeded to mark out the larger and smaller divisions and paths of the gardens. Every part was laid down under his own eye by the gardener, Mr. Smith Dr. Hunter's plan, which had been delayed by his many occupations, arrived when all these details had been completed, and when it was not possible to benefit by it.
The soil in some parts of the ground was too stony for flower-beds, and it was removed while good loamy soil was substituted. His Highness the First Prince kindly consented to the employment of a large quantity of ash manure which had been stored for some time for his own gardens, and which, with manure obtained from the Sirkar stables, &c., has been of great use in the proper preparation of the soil.
A collection of seeds of plants has been received from Dr. Hunter, while the Reporter has obtained a choice selection of flower, shrub, and tree seeds, suited for this country, from Mr. Van Honter of Ghent. These are all now in pots, while the different figures laid down on the grounds are filled with what flowers could be obtained at first. A small tank has been begun, which will receive great part of the drainage on one side of His Highness hill; one good well existed to the east of the Museum, and another large well has been dug, and is now in use, to the west.
In the beginning of 1864 the Reporter was obliged by Professor Balfour of Edinburgh with seeds of the Victoria regia, forwarded by post. These were distributed among several gentlemen, but all failed in germinating. In February of this year, T. Madava Row, Esq., the Dewan, forwarded to the Reporter some seeds he had received from Europe by post; these were immediately put in pots under water. Fearing that these might also fail, the Reporter requested His Excellency Sir William Denison to allow a few seeds from the plants he has introduced into the Madras Gardens to be forwarded for the public gardens here. These were kindly forwarded immediately, with instructions as to the mode of placing the seeds and treating the pots till germination, and afterwards. A large tank has been begun in the paddy-field for the reception of the young plants, and this tank may be carried out into a lake should the remainder of the paddy-field not be used for a botanical garden as originally proposed.
A house for
Mr. Smith, the head-gardener, designed by the Sirkar Engineer, has been
built, under his superintendence, on a part of the grounds where it will,
from its Slightly ornamental character, add to the general appearance.
Culverts have been begun or completed wherever the drainage has required them, and the Reporter has suggested ornamental ledgings, with pedestals, at each side of the culverts, carrying ornamental flower vases. Two gates are required, and designs were made by the Reporter, which he has not, for want of time, been able to complete to his satisfaction. Good designs should be obtained from a professional architect.
The Reporter, in his letter of 26th October 1859, had recommended the purchase of the compound to the north of the gardens, now beloging to Captain Davidson, and he suggested the necessity of puchasing at least a part of it, in order to improve the entrance from the Cantonment. Should this compund ever be for sale again, the Reporter is still of opinion that it would be a great acquisition to these gardens.
The whole of the planting of flowers, shrubs, &c., has been performed in a season almost without example for drought, no rain having fallen between the end of December 1864 and 28th March 1865, while the rain in October was only eight-tenths of an inch, and in December four-tenths. This has not only made all the work difficult, but it has made it expensive, numbers of coolies being retained merely for watering the plants, since the water had to be carried from the tank in the paddy-fields, the well failing after a few hours’ drawing. It will be possible, as soon as the rains begin, to arrange the establishment necessary for carrying out the work of the gardens.
One considerable improvement has been made in the views from the grounds: the trees in the compounds to the south and west cut off the view of the horizon (sea or distant grounds); the Sirkar having sanctioned a sum necessary for paying for the trees, gaps have been cut, which add considerably to the effect of the landscape, showing the new church on the Cantonment in one, the distant ground to south near the sea in another, and a new building erected by the Dewan on a neighbouring hill at a third. The Reporter would suggest that hereafter the public road should be separated from the gardens by a low wall with a railing or wire-net fence, and at present that such an arrangement should be adopted near the gates.
The Reporter believes that the time has nearly arrived when the extraordinary expenses may cease. The tank or lake in the paddy-field is proceeding. The small tank to the east of the Museum, and near the Bamboo clump, is partly dug; the platform for the band, on the site of the Godowns, stables, &c., removed, can be completed at a small expense. The two forcing-houses are nearly ready for use; one is now in use. A small terrace is being formed north of the band-stand platform, where seats may be placed from which there will be a good view, and the sea-breeze will be felt; and this can be completed for a trifling sum. Some length of pathway on the northern and eastern slopes, including paths down to the lake, have been traced out by the Reporter, and pegged by Mr. Smith in his presence. These form all the works of any importance requiring attention.
The Reporter thinks that an establishment of 20 coolies will be required, with the aid of 30 prisoners, to ensure the complete extirpation of jungle shrubs, and to bring these grounds into good order at first, and the Reporter would recommend that an allowance of 5 rupees per mensem should be sanctioned for each of six coolies; 4½ rupees per mensem for each of six coolies; and of 4 rupees per mensem for each of eight collies. The Reporter believes that the number of coolies noted may be diminished hereafter, especially if no vegetable garden is entertained.
The Reporter has adopted the plan of paying the prisoners one chuckram daily if the total work done had been satisfactory; any prisoner found loitering risks the loss of this allowance, and it has been found that they have been much more active than before they received this allowance. One of the prisoners, a carpenter, has been employed in making wheel-barrows, handles for mamoties, &c. As the payment of the prisoners amounts to about 28 rupees per mensem, it may still be a question whether seven ordinary coolies, at 4 rupees, would not be of more value.
The Reporter recommends that a committee of gentlemen interested in horticulture should be chosen to superintend the gardens. The greatest part has to be done in planting trees, shrubs, and flowers, and especially in carrying the latter into the most harmonious combinations, while something may still be done in opening up points of view for the surrounding landscape. The Reporter has caused several trees to be cut down, by which the distant ghats and nearer hills are to be seen from different parts of the grounds. The long drive, turning on the northern spurs and slopes, affords pleasant views to the north and east; while the drive up his Highness the Rajah’s hill gives a view of the whole of the surrounding country.
In concluding, the Reporter has to acknowledge the liberal sanction of the measures necessary to carry out the work given by his Highness the Rajah, a sum of about 4000 rupees having been expended on all items, including the head-gardener’s salary, between 6th July 1864 and 31st March 1865. He has also to thank H. Newill, Esq., the British Resident, for the interest which he at once took in this scheme; while T. Madava Row, Esq., the Dewan, has aided the Reporter by his ready support on every matter connected with the prosecution of the work, and to him the Reporter’s especial thanks are due.
The Reporter is glad to recongnise the zeal, alacrity, and conscientious discharge of duty by Mr. Smith, the head-gardener, without whose active and intelligent aid the Reporter could never have performed the work in the time and in the way it has been done. His Highness the Rajah has signified his appreciation of Mr. Smith’s merits by a considerable increase of salary.
Threvandrum, April 12, 1865, John Allan Broun
an old soldier and pensioner of the Madras army, was originally a market
– gardener, he died in 1873. – May 1874)
|(Compiled by Dr. Achuthsankar S. Nair)|
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