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Open toilet makes way for medicinal plants garden

ST Beuria, Nov 25, 2012:
Medicinal plants at Ekamravan garden in Bhubaneswar.

For those tired of the hustle-bustle of  city life, a visit to this place, full of greenery, is a refreshing experience. The settings are ideal and the experience is generally reinvigorating for visitors.

Perched on the banks of Bindusagar tank, Ekamravan is a beautiful garden of medicinal plants and trees. No wonder, it is included in the itinerary of  most of the VIPs to Bhubaneswar. The state capital of Odisha is more famous for its temples and historic monuments. Now, the latest addition to the list has been Ekamravan.

It has already impressed many-- be it eminent personalities like former World Bank president Robert B Zoellick, Chinese ambassador to India Zhang Yan,
former US envoy in New Delhi Peter Burleigh and union ministers Sharad Pawar, Kapil Sibal and Jairam Ramesh. And it seems all set to charm many more in the coming days.

“Currently, we receive 50 to 60 visitors every day. The number crosses 100 on
festival days. We are hopeful of getting more visitors in the coming days keeping in mind the garden’s growing popularity,” said Ashok Kumar Mishra, the site
in-charge of the garden located near the  famous Lingaraj temple.   

Naveen Patnaik, who was known as a writer before his late foray into politics-- he joined politics only after his late father former chief minister Biju Patnaik died in 1996--often visits the garden. In fact, he personally escorts the VIPs to the garden.

The garden is about four years old-- its construction started in June, 2006 and was inaugurated in January, 2009. Interestingly, the 1.23-acre garden has come up on a land, which was an open toilet for the people in the nearby areas. “Before the garden came up, the land was being used as a toilet by the residents of Bhoi Sahi, a nearby village,” said Mishra. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation constructed toilets for the villagers before works on the garden started.

Thanks to the efforts of  the forest and environment department and personal care of some individuals, including Naveen Patnaik, the open toilet has now turned into a beautiful garden which houses 230 varieties of medicinal plants and trees.

Mishra claimed that it was Patnaik’s idea to set up the medicinal plant garden on the banks of Bindusagar which, in the ancient times, was known as a water body carrying medicinal powers.

It is said that Bindusagar water percolates to a holy well near the Lingaraj
temple where, even today, thousands of childless couples take bath on a particular day in a year in the hope they would be blessed with a child.

A visitor is greeted with various herbs and shrubs and trees. As all of them have medicinal property the fresh air makes the visitor to enjoy the beautiful scene and the walk could turn out to be  anexperience a worth remembering .

The aroma of plants and shrubs could make the visitor feel much better. Most of the plants have their names displayed on sign posts nearby. While moving along the pathway, one would find an “Ek Mukhi” (one face) rudraksh tree. A rudraksh with one face is very rare and prized.

A tree at the centre of a sloping lawn inside the garden which is known as Chhatiyan or Dita Bark. It is claimed to have anti-malarial properties.

Walking along the pathway further, one would come across Parvati  pindi (platform) with an amla tree at the centre.

According to the caretakers of the garden, Parvati, the consort of Shiva and mother of Ganesha, is represented by the amla tree. Amla is known for rich source of vitamin C. Around the platform, a plant bed containing medicinal herbs used for women’s healthcare has been raised.

A few steps ahead the Parvati pindi, the visitor will be greeted by various shrubs of spices  used widely to make the food delicious.

Other important trees and plants


inside the garden include a plant of white flowers known as sadaa-bahar (forever-blossoming). They bloom throughout the year. There is also a plant of five-petalled white tagar or pinwheel flowers which are commonly used in Odisha to decorate the deities especially in the Shiva temples like Lingaraj. Besides, the garden is home to six types of tulsi plants--Ram Tulsi, Dhala (white) Tulsi, Kala (black) Tulsi, Karpura Tulsi, Durlava (priceless) Tulsi and Gaya Tulsi.   Significantly, the medicinal plants and trees inside the garden have never been used for commercial purposes.

“The garden has not been developed for commercial use. The principal objective of the garden is to educate people about the medicinal plants. Though many of these plants are available outside, people are not aware of their medicinal value. The garden is just an attempt to create awareness among the common people about the precious medicinal plants,” said Mishra.

Not only visitors and tourists, the garden is also frequented by students of different ayurvedic colleges in the state for their study purposes.

Bindusagar has its own interesting tale too. The story goes that when Parvati was thirsty, Shiva, the presiding deity of the nearby Lingaraj temple, plunged his trident into the earth and drew water from a spring. Thus the famous water body was formed.
  Bindusagar too is a major  attraction for the tourists and devotees during two important festivals in the Lingaraj temple-- Shiv Ratri and Ashokastami.


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