Karnataka is the first state in the entire country to have a separate Horticulture Department, and many other states, at later years, followed the example of Karnataka . Because of this, the state could achieve remarkable progress in many fronts of Horticulture, whether Fruits or Vegetables or Flowers or Plantation crops.
The growth of Horticulture in the state has a thrilling historical background, which reveals several interesting facts, milestones of achievements and pride legacies.
Although some Horticulture crops were grown in the state since time immemorial, their cultivation on commercial scale started just two and a half century before. The first acknowledgeable credit for initiation of cultivation of Horticulture crops in the state undoubtedly goes to Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. At about 1760,Hyder Ali started a small royal orchard near Bangalore Fort, which was called by the name Lalbagh. After him, Tipu Sultan improved this garden by making systematic layouts and undertaking comprehensive planting programme. He collected several important native and exotic species of flowers, fruits, vegetables and other plants, obtained from several far off places such as Malacca, Isle of France, Oman, Arabia, Persia, Turkey, Zanzibar, France and other European countries. At Srirangapatna, his capital, he had established another garden of fame by the same name as Lalbagh, in which also he had introduced several ornamental and horticulture plants. At Ganjam, near Srirangapatna, he had developed a vast Fig orchard. Several of the fruits species, which Tipu Sultan had introduced then, eventually became the commercial crops of the then Mysore province, and to quote a few are: Fig, Mulberry (for Sericulture), Grapes, Pomegranates, Rose, several European vegetable crops etc.
After the fall of Tipu Sultan in the year 1799, the Lalbagh was taken over by the English and as far as can be traced, it was owned by a military botanist, Major Waugh and remained in his possession until 1819. Then he gifted this garden to the Marques Warren Hastings, the Governor General of the East India Company, who in turn appointed Dr.Wallich, the Superintendent of the Royal Botanical Garden, Calcutta, as the in charge Deputy Superintendent of the Lalbagh Botanical gardens. This arrangement continued till 1831.
On the British usurpation of the province of Mysore in 1831, Lalbagh passed into the hands of Sir Mark Cubbon, the Chief Commissioner of Mysore. In 1839, the affairs of the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens were transferred to the Agri-Horticultural Society, Calcutta. The Society ceased to exist in 1842 and the Garden once again came under the management of the Chief Commissioner until 1856.
In August 1856, Lalbagh was made the Government Botanical Garden, becoming entirely a government establishment. A committee with the Secretary to the Commissioner, the Superintendent, Bangalore Division and Dr. Kirkpatrick, was set up to take measures to preserve all the interesting botanical species; and to make the garden attractive. Much work was done in the next two years. After a lapse of two years, in 1858, Sir William Hooker, Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, selected Mr. William New, as the Superintendent of the Lalbagh Botanical Garden.
The real developmental works in Lalbagh started from the year 1874, when John Cameron took charge of the garden. Vigorous and systematic introduction and expansion of the garden took place during his tenure. From original area of 45 acres, Lalbagh was expanded to 100 acres by the turn of the 19th century. The renowned Glass House was constructed his period in 1889. The credit of starting commercial cultivation of several fruits, vegetables and plantation crops, undoubtedly goes to John Cameron. His long term of office from 1874 to 1908, is regarded as the ‘Golden Period’ of plant introductions at Lalbagh.
G.H. Krumbiegal assumed the charge of Lalbagh in 1908. He did memorable works in Lalbagh, as well as Mysore State. Like his predecessor, he also introduced several plant species, including Rome Beauty Apple. He beautified Lalbagh with large number of native and exotic specie and gave special impetus to the creation of Park and Gardens in Bangalore and Mysore cities, including the famous Brindavan Gardens at Krishnarajasagara reservoir, near Mysore. He also started the Mysore Horticulture Society, in 1912 and through this Society, started regular Flower Shows at Lalbagh. He also opened the Bureau of Economic Plants and Horticulture Training School. He served the Department for memorable 25 years and retired in the year 1932.
H.C. Javaraya took the charge of Lalbagh and Horticulture Development in the Mysore state in 1932. He was trained in the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew, London. He took up the all-round development of Horticulture in the state. With the establishment of the Fruit Research Station at Hesarghatta, Bangalore, in 1938, he was able to conduct many adaptive research trials related to various fruit crops. The first Horticulture farm was started at Maddur in 1942, to demonstrate the cultivation of Horticulture crops and production of vegetable seeds and planting material for the farmers. He retired from the service in 1944.
After Javaraya, K.Nanjappa took over the charge of development of Lalbagh and the Department of Horticulture and he also continued the legacy started by his predecessors, and effected several developmental works.
When Dr.M.H Marigowda took the charge of the post of the Superintendent of Horticulture in Mysore, in 1951, the developmental works in the state started with an unprecedented pace. In 1963, consequent to the formation of the separate Department of Horticulture, he was elevated to the post of the Director of Horticulture. Several schemes which were earlier handled by the Agriculture Department, were transferred to this newly created Department.
In 1965, the reorganization of the Department took place and several posts were created in order to carry over the task of Horticulture development in the state. Also, a large number of new scheme were sanctioned. In 1956, as a result of reorganization of the state, the Horticultural activities were extended to all the 19 districts. Thus, he was responsible for elevating the minor Department of Horticulture to a major Department.
During his term, he took the Horticulture to the rural areas and to the common man. He set into implementation of an unique pattern of Horticulture development i.e, “4-Limbed Model of Horticulture”. To suit to this, he established the Horticulture Produce Co-operative Marketing Society and the Nurserymen’s Co-operative Society at Bangalore. He started as many as 357 farms and nurseries all over the state. His visualization of the farms and nurseries
was in developing them as progeny orchards, nursery centers and places of demonstration of new crops and technology to the farmers. Seed testing, soil testing and plant protection laboratories were started at Lalbagh by him. Several park and gardens were laid out in different cities and towns of the state.
The area of Lalbagh Botanical Garden was expanded to 240 acres and planted with additional native and exotic species of plants during his period. Dr. Marigowda was a staunch advocator of Dry Land Horticulture and the principals and practices of these technologies were demonstrated in most of the farms started by him. This inspired the farmers of the state to practice Dry Land Horticulture on vast dry and drought prone tracts of the state. Mixed cropping and intercroppings got special fillip during his times. Thus, through multifarious achievements and feats, the state of Karnataka became the “Horticultural State of India”, and Dr. Marigowda’s name became immortal in the annals of Horticulture development in Karnataka.