Documentary on Krumbiegel to be screened on Monday

Documentary on Krumbiegel, who made Bengaluru bloom, to be screened on Monday

G H Krumbiegel. Credit: Wikimedia commons

A documentary film on legendary landscape architect G H Krumbiegel, whose immense horticultural contributions enhanced the urban beauty of Bengaluru, Mysuru and Vadodara, is slated to be screened on Monday, with his great-granddaughter saying "his story has at last been told".

The film titled 'The Maharaja's German Gardener', was shot in seven Indian cities, besides London and Dresden, majorly during the COVID-19 pandemic, to bring to life the story of man, who loved India, but whose legacy has "largely been forgotten," its director said on Sunday.

Born in 1865 in Dresden in Germany, Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel's significant horticultural contribution helped Bangalore (now Bengaluru) earn the moniker of 'Garden City'.

London-based Alyia Phelps-Gardiner Krumbiegel, his great-granddaughter, on Sunday said she was happy and thrilled to know that a documentary on his great grandfather's legacy has been made and will be screened tomorrow, "in his own city of Bangalore".

She rued that she won't be able to make it to the screening, "but will be there in spirit".

"Also, not only Bangalore, his legacy stands today in Mysore, especially the Mysore Palace gardens and the Brindavan Gardens he had meticulously designed. Or his earlier works in Baroda, where he had worked after arriving in India, in his 20s," Alyia told PTI over the phone.

The 60-minute documentary in English was made in association with the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bengaluru, said Ganesh Shankar Raj, the director of the film.

Alyia, 60, who has been featured in the film, said, "I am feeling beyond proud to see his legacy being celebrated. Krumbiegel was a man beyond his time, but did not get his due. History has been unkind to him, but I am happy that his story has at last been told".

She said, she had shared "loads of archival photographs and other material" with the production team.

The showpiece, among all the gardens of Bangalore is of course the Lalbagh, which Krumbiegel during his tenure as its superintendent, "enhanced to a higher state of glory," said Alyia.

"And I consider, John Cameron, G H Krumbiegel, H C Javaraya, M H Marigowda, as the four main pillars of Lalbagh. We need to celebrate them and preserve their legacy," she said.

Alyia was crestfallen in November 2017, when more than 100-year-old Krumbiegel Hall in the iconic Lalbagh was demolished, with the move by the authorities, triggering grief and outrage among heritage lovers.

It was later replaced by a replica of the old Krumbiegel Hall, which has been shown in the film, the 47-year-old director said.

"We have showcased all the places Krumbiegel was associated with. So, audience will see the Kew gardens of London; Lukshmi Vilas Palace and Sayaji Baug and other public gardens of Baroda; Lal Bagh, Cubbon Park and other ones in Bangalore; Mysore Palace gardens and Brindavan Gardens; gardens of the royal palace of Travancore (Kowdiar Palace) in Trivandrum; and gardens in Ooty," Raj told PTI.

Jubilee Park in Jamshedpur, and Pillnitz Palace and Park in Dresden have also been shot for the film, he said.

"Krumbiegel was working at the botanical gardens at Kew, when he came in contact with Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the then ruler of Baroda royal family, and his India journey began," the director said.

After Mahatma Gandhi's death in 1948, Krumbiegel was invited by the government to landscape his memorial garden in New Delhi -- Rajghat. The documentary produced by MINDIA, a start-up entity of Inner Eye World Films, was shot at the memorial too, he added.

The film, after screening, will be available for online view on MINDIA's channel on YouTube, the director said.

"We shot the film from 2019-2021, and due to the pandemic that hit us all in 2020, kept our crew very trimmed to 3-4 people, having those who could do multiple tasks, while taking all precautions," Raj said.

Asked what was the inspiration to make the film, he said, "During 2016 flower show at Lal Bagh, I had seen a floral replica of Krumbiegel's ancestral house in Dresden being showcased. That triggered me to explore the legacy of this man, and that's how it started. Tomorrow, we will also lay a wreath on the grave of Krumbiegel in his memory".

"Krumbiegel died in Bangalore in 1956 and is buried at a cemetery located on Hosur Road. I have requested the director to lay a wreath on his grave. I wish I could do it," said Alyia.

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