Mysuru was scientifically developed as an urban centre, rather as a capital of the Mysuru kingdom with the establishment of City Improvement Trust Board [CITB] as early as 1906. Garden was a default program of every residential extension developed by CITB. And therefore, it was no surprise when the Mysore City Corporation, a couple of years ago, stated that there were more than 700 parks in the city. Also then there is no reason to suspect why Mysuru was also called a Garden City. However, it is very unfortunate that today very few parks are in good shape and useful to the citizens of Mysuru.
Cheluvamba Park in Vontikoppal is one among those few good parks. It is spread over an area of about 9 acres. I, for one have, grown up with this park. My memory of this park goes back to more than 65 years. Sky high Christmas trees at the centre of this park signify their iconic status. They were visible from very long distances. That was before multistoried buildings became part of all extensions. A small building beside these tall trees is reminiscent of early fifties and sixties when the radio was the only means of news and information. Since not many could afford to own radios, arrangements were made in important parks for a radio room with loud speakers which broadcast news in the evenings. This small building in Cheluvamba Park is one such radio room. Citizens and children spent time in the evening by listening to the news and other broadcasts and enjoying “Garma Garam Kallekai with bella”.
The stone platform at the western side of Cheluvamba Park was the place from where the famous Palace Band and the Police Band used to entertain the public with its western and Karnataka music once in a week. This platform also served those who wanted to address the public. Just behind this platform a fountain (which is now defunct) would provide additional charm with a gentle spray of water. Behind this fountain is that special landmark of this park – the wooden framed green house fully covered by green creepers which provide bloom of yellow and blue tubers in the months of August and September.
Before 2013, there was only one oblong shaped walking path in the centre. There were also steel arches with creepers in between to add to the charm while taking a walk. Stone benches were provided along this path for the comfort of citizens. The boundary of the park was fenced with barbed wire and a lantana bush which was pruned periodically. Trees of different varieties planted all along the boundary with in the park which provided shade and added to the charm of the park. Some trees are unique. Huge Cacti have grown around some trees as if taking the support for their survival. One coniferous tree has provided shelter to bougainvillea creeper and consequently the light read leaves of bougainvillea now look like flowers of the coniferous tree!! Then there is one tree which has grown horizontally on the grass but with branches in vertical form. Probably only such tree anywhere!!! The texture and structure of the trunks of some of the large trees are very unique and elegant.
As the number of people visiting the park for walking increased they themselves carved an additional walking path nearing the fence of the park. As the park has remained unkempt for quite a long time it had lost its charm.
Cheluvamba Park has been ‘developed’ at huge expense during 2013-14. Some of the expenses could have been avoidable and could have used for genuine development.
Today, Cheluvamba Park is a pride of Yadavagiri and other neighboring extensions. Number of visitors is increasing by the day. Soon one will have to find means of enhancing its utility to citizens. On the whole this is one park which still retains its old charm.