M3 Features

Panchavati Garden reopens for devotees

November 4, 2013

The Dakshineswar Kali temple authorities reopened Panchavati Udyan for thousands of devotees on Kali Puja on Saturday, nearly three months after the holy trees planted by Ramakrishna Paramhansa were severely affected in a storm.

Restoration of a heritage

The temple authorities had joined hands with the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) for ‘scientific restoration’ of the grove and they claimed that they were trying their best to give it back its old look. Kusal Chowdhury, secretary of the board of trustees and great grandson of Rani Rashmoni, the founder of Dakshineswar temple, said on Saturday that Panchavati Udyan was in dire need of urgent technical restoration.

“Around the end of August, a pipal and a banyan tree — two of the five principal trees in Panchavati planted by Ramakrishna Paramhansa, were severely damaged in a storm. We got in touch with the BSI and H S Debnath of the Indian Botanic Garden (IBG) came to our rescue. We found an innovative way of using technology to protect the trees for a long term as well as for proper restoration of the grove,” Chowdhury said.

Debnath, the joint director of IBG, Shibpur, said his team started restoration on September 10 and took barely a month to complete the initial stage. “We finished the primary job within October 15. This kind of technology is a long-term process that will be continued to keep the glory of the great Panchavati intact. The sacred grove is gradually regaining its original shape with at least 35 to 40 kinds of trees like jasmine, yellow orchid, raktakarabi, night flowering jasmine (shiuli), wood apple (bel), ferns, maulsiri (bakul) and ashoka trees,” he said.

Debnath said when they visited the site, they found the pipal and some other trees in a precarious condition. “The stems of some trees were crumbling. So we carefully pruned and repaired them in such a way that a new stem grows up from the original trunk base. We also decided to conserve the prop roots of the banyan tree so that it survives longer. By going through Ramakrishna Kathamrita and the biography of Ramakrishna, 38 varieties of trees, which were originally planted at Panchvati, were shortlisted and planted,” he added.

Significance of the heritage

The significance of Panchvati is immense in the spiritual history of India. This is where Ramakrishna performed his sadhana, including advaitic sadhana in 1865. Panchavati was where he spent most of his time whenever the temple used to remain closed. During those days, no one except for him dared to go there because of its wild, unkempt condition. Pits, ditches, wild trees and plants rendered it inhospitable.

Must-visit for tourists

The historical significance of the grove will now be mentioned in placards along with the names of trees. The Panchavati Udyan is open for the public from 8-11am and from 3.30-6pm. “The government has assured us that the direct ferry service from Babughat to Dakshineswar will be run soon for which we have appealed to the state government several times,” Chowdhury said.

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Comments (3)
Abhiroop Reply
November 04, 2013
It's good that the Dakshineswar authorities went in for a scientific process. The roadside trees which fall during storms in the city should also be restored in this manner, with the help of the Botanic Garden.
Bhaskar Reply
November 04, 2013
It is commendable that Botanic Garden has come forward and restored the trees.
amrita Reply
November 04, 2013
A very sacred place for devotees.
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