An early morning walk among the majestic trees is a recipe for much needed calm before a busy day. For the past few days, I have been exploring the by-lanes of the agraharas and keris in the old parts of Mysuru. As part of my morning routine, I stroll through the serene campus of Maharaja's College and soak myself in the fresh air.
The campus makes for an ideal place for a brisk walk as it offers a fascinating view of heritage structures among a variety of trees with colourful flowers. Renowned author R K Narayan once said, "The Maharaja's College was built in the early French style and its arched windows gave on to intoxicating views of the landscape." The building is situated among a variety of trees, some dotted with colourful flowers. Vibrant Bougainvilleas soar up against the early morning sky, showcasing a natural mix of pink and green; while the chirping of birds is musical, alongside a vibrant flutter of butterflies and bees.
This apart, morning walkers are strolling across the campus with their friends, chatting about worldly affairs. Some people are performing yoga and some are meditating. There are a few people feeding the stray dogs and others carefully dropping a pinch of sugar in the ant-holes. On the other hand, the religious ones are seen circumambulating the neem or the banni tree. They paste a small amount of kumkum on its trunk and tie a thread with a flower, around the banni tree. In the quieter corners, there are students preparing for their exams, alongside a few cows placidly chewing grass from the meadows.
The well-grown trees make the campus green and refreshing, with green walk-ways and canopies sheltering a variety of birds â€“ parrots, egrets, mynas, etc. Perhaps, this campus is the only one in Mysuru that boasts of such a large variety of trees. It is said that the University of Mysore functioned from here soon after its formation in 1916, before the Crawford Hall was built some three decades later. The foundation stone for the college was laid by the Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Victor, in 1868 when Chamarajendra Wadiyar X was the ruler of Mysuru.
While many exotic species were planted in the campus, only a few remain now. Among the trees that catch attention as one walks across the interior of the campus are mandara, tapasi, tabebuia, kakke, bage and more. The commonly found trees include copper pod, rain tree, gulmohar, ashoka, tamarind and mango.
Mandara (Bauhinia purpurea) is an exotic tropical tree with beautiful fragrant flowers. Indian Elm or tapasi (Holoptelea integrifolia) is a medicinal tree, its bark is used for treating rheumatic swellings. It is the favourite of bees and birds. Tabebuia (Tabebuia argentea) is a tree with gold-coloured flowers. It is suitable for median and avenue planting.
Cassia fistula, also called kakke in Kannada, is a tree ideal for landscaping. In the blooming season, it gets covered in yellow flowers that create a beautiful contrast with the landscape. These are some among the variety of trees in the Maharaja's College campus. They are a visual delight during a leisurely walk. Planting more rare species of trees can enhance the beauty of this heritage campus and make it eco-friendly.