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Ayurveda

Three herbal gardens; one city, different fates

TOI, VARANASI: Blessed with two prominent ayurvedic medical institutions and hospital, the condition of the three herbal gardens in the city is variably different.

The herbal garden of the Ayurvedic Medical College of Sampurnanand Sanskrit University (SSU) has become a piece of waste land with bio wastes scattered all around. The garden, categorised by local and other states’ plants, is distributed in two parts- one adjacent Saraswati Bhawan and the other on the medical college campus. However, situation is similar in both these parts of the garden.

According to head of the dravyaguna department A N Singh, built in 1982 with the inception of ayurvedic medical college, the garden has as many as 250 plants in total which also include some of the species of plants that grow in states like Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. However, due to lack of maintenance and proper cleaning, the garden has lost the purpose for which it was built.

“About two years ago, there were iron fencing outlining the entire region, but it has now been destroyed,” says its gardner Ram Asre (name changed). It is worth mentioning here that trees like Chandan, Khadeer, Amaltas, Jyotishmati, Patla, Dhittori are growing in this garden that have great medicinal values. However, nameplates are missing from most trees.

According to Singh, there is a shortage of labour and there are only two gardners appointed to look after the vast garden. The land is full of bush and dry leaves, lacks cutting, screening and watering works and the shear negligence of the authorities has turned the region into a jungle. “Some miscreants from outside often come and take away useful plants from here,” claimed Guddu, a class IV worker at SSU. “There is a proposal for a new ayurvedic garden on some seven acre of land in Chaubeypur and for building a pharmacy that will use the material from the garden itself. If things go well, around seven years will go into starting the entire set up,” informed Singh.

The garden set up for the purpose to act as live museum of medicinal trees, plants and herbs stands is no where in comparison to its counterparts at Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN) Park in Sigra.

“Without sounding boastful, I can say that the maintenance and efficiency in preserving and protecting the growth of medicinal plants at Ayurvedic Garden at the faculty of ayurveda, Institute of Medical Science, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) is one of the best in the region,” says Prof K N Dwivedi, former head of dravyaguna department.

According to Dwivedi, the graden serves as a home to nearly 350 species of local medicinal plants, trees and herbs like Brahmi, Jalnimb, Shatavari, Karkara, Tulsi, Triphala, Ashok, Tez Patta, Dal Chini and many others. Besides the garden has species like Strychnos Potatorum (purifies contaminated water) grown in Trivendrum and plants frmo Garo Hills, Assam, Karnataka, Maharashtra and many colder places.

The years-old garden, set up in front of Malviya Bhawan is extended over some 24,800 square metre, is looked after by five gardeners. Proper irrigation, cutting and pruning and presence of a concrete road to walk properly inside the garden without destroying any herbs as well as benches to sit speak loudly of the good maintenance work.

At the same time, the Varanasi Nagar Nigam (VNN) Park can also prove to be a learning lesson for SSU in efficiently maintenance of herbal garden. The herbal garden adjacent to Shaheed Udyan in Sigra is growing over 35 varieties of local medicinal plants like Tulsi, Aloe-Vera, Kalmegh, Ashwagandha, lemon grass in a clean and civilised way.

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