The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 1 , 2014
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Where floating beauties bloom

- Khijri park offers 10 stunning varieties of pond plants

Blue Egyptian lotus, pink/white Indian lotus, white water lily, makhana …

Ranchi is in the middle of a bloom boom with a unique variety of water flowers popping out at the aquatic garden of the state’s lone biodiversity park at Khijri block.

Officials of the state forest department, which owns the 500-acre park located around 25km from the state capital, said that the floating garden was at an evolution stage for the past two years, but it is only now that water flowers of myriad hues have started blossoming.

“At present, there are about 10 varieties of aquatic plants, mostly lilies and lotuses, in the water garden. This apart, some species of grass have also been planted. We are happy that the fruits of our labour are finally showing. Slowly, the numbers will go up,” said Abhimanyu Singh, a forester looking after the park.

The forest department started the biodiversity park four years ago to conserve endangered, rare and exotic varieties of flora and fauna. Over the years, natural trails, medicinal gardens, herbaria and cacti nurseries were added.

“Work on nurturing the aquatic garden, spread across an acre, began two years ago with creation of small ponds, putting up fences and planting flowers. Since Ranchi doesn’t have any aquatic flower as such, we thought of introducing it in our park so that others can replicate it elsewhere,” Singh said.

In 2013, only two-three species blossomed in the little circular ponds. But this year, the garden has broken into a riot of colours with some of the most beautiful aquatic flowers making an appearance.

The blue lotus or blue Egyptian lotus (Nymphaea caerulea), pink/white Indian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), white water lily (Nymphaea alba) and makhana (Euryale ferox) are a visual treat, drawing a large number of visitors.

“The beauty of water plants is that one doesn’t need to invest huge resources except changing water once in two weeks and adding manure. Compared to the other two varieties, the pink/white Indian lotus is considered to be a sacred flower as it is used for worshipping. The other two are also in huge demand because of their visual grandeur,” said Singh.

The blue Egyptian lotus is originally found in East Africa, but it came to be grown in other parts of Asian countries over the years. “Its petals are slimmer than the original lotus found in our country. It is mostly used for making perfume, flavoured drinks etc,” said one of the gardeners.

He also showed another variety called the purple lily, which changes its colour depending on the time of the day.

“This flower assumes a deep purple colour when the sun rays are most bright and harsh. The hue starts fading as dusk falls,” he added.

A flower, curiously named Kaurav-Pandav, is also grabbing eyeballs.

“It’s actual called the passion flower or Passiflora caerulea, but is famous as the Kaurav-Pandav. This is because it has 100 purple and while petals on the outside and five stamens inside. So, it is named this way,” explained Singh, adding that its fragrance can be smelt from about a distance of 200-250 metres.

The park, which is open on all days, charges an entry fee of Rs 20 per person.

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