Thorny bushes sans roses at Chandigarh’s rose fest


Chandigarh : Where are the roses? Visitors may well have asked seeing mostly thorny shrubs shorn of roses greeting them at the annual Rose Festival, one of the city’s major tourist draws.

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The Rose Festival-2009, a mega event of the festival calendar in the Union Territory of Chandigarh, began here with full gusto Friday, but visitors went away disappointed seeing the flowerbeds wear a deserted look.

“Yes, it’s true the Rose Festival this year has lost its old charm, as this time we had fewer roses and also fewer number of visitors,” Sheetal Prasad, a gardener working for the last 40 years at the Rose Garden, said.

“The main reason for the poor flowering is that most of the rose bushes have grown old. Moreover, there are not enough gardeners to take care of this garden. There was a time when over 150 gardeners were engaged in the upkeep of the Rose Garden, but now only 34 are looking after it,” said Prasad.

Another reason for the few flowers is that many were plucked by youths during Valentine’s Day.

“January and February are the best time for the blooming of roses, but this time we have comparatively less number of flowers. Moreover, a few days back on Valentine’s Day many youngsters stealthily plucked most of the roses despite the deployment of 20 guards that day,” said Lakhan Vilas, a senior gardener.

However, the scant flowering was not a deterrent for the administration during the 37th edition of the three-day Rose Festival, which ended Sunday.

Apart from various events and competitions, artists from other states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat also presented songs and dances.

“I have never visited such a kind of festival dedicated only to flowers anywhere in the world. But contrary to its name, there were very few roses while other flower kinds were there aplenty,” Aubrey Davis, a German tourist, told IANS.

The administration claims that the Rose Garden of Chandigarh is the largest of its kind in Asia. Also known as Zakir Rose Garden, named after India’s former president Zakir Hussain, the garden showcases nearly 1,600 exotic varieties of roses.

Spread over 30 acres, the Rose Garden was set up in 1967. The best time to visit it is during February-March when the roses are in full bloom.