Himalayan Botanic Garden: Exploring Plants, Butterflies, and Breathtaking Scenery
Developed in 2005, the Himalayan Botanic Garden is a mesmerising botanical garden hosting exquisite species of plants and herbs of Himalayan origin. Nestled in the lap of green hills in the backdrop of snow covered Himalayan peaks at an altitude of 1900 metres, it’s a must-visit destination near Nainital, Uttarakhand. Currently, this botanical garden is a popular tourist attraction offering a memorable experience in the midst of pure nature.
With various species of rare medicinal plants and native Himalayan foliage, this botanical garden drives the attention of conservationists all across the country. The major attractions of the 30-hectares garden are the butterfly park, orchidarium, herbarium, fernery, Geidesic dome, zero point, and library. It’s a centre for botanists and scientists managed by the Uttarakhand Forest Department.
Here are some of the plant species in this botanical garden.
It’s known as American basil which is an annual herb belonging to the Lamiaceae family. It’s native to the Indian subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia, and Africa. This plant is used for medicinal purposes.
It’s a perennial flowering plant of Chinese origin and is known for its medicinal values. Popularly known as Leopard Lily, the herb is used for reducing inflammation in the lungs and viral infection. Its dried rhizome is used to treat asthma, malaria, gonorrhoea, arrow poisoning, and throat infections. Research is also being conducted in its effectiveness in treating prostate cancer.
Commonly known as caraway or meridian fennel or Persian cumin, this is biennial plant belonging to the family Apiaceae. It has feathery leaves and resembles plants to other members of the carrot family. Caraway is well known as a traditional folk medicine, both in Ayurvedic and Unani medicines.
The fruits have a pungent, anise-like flavour and aroma. They are used as a breath freshener. They are used as a spice and find place in numerous recipes. The roots and leaves are cooked as a vegetable and can also be consumed raw. The fruit oil is also used in soaps, perfumes and lotions as a fragrance component.
Nyctanthes arbor-tristis Oleaceae
Native to South Asia and Southeast Asia, has many medicinal uses. The extracts of its seeds, leaves and flowers are hepatoprotective, antiviral, antifungal and immunostimulant properties. The leaves of this shrub are traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine and Homeopathy to treat arthritis, fevers, sciatica, and constipation.
Popularly known as stinging nettle, this perennial flowering plant belongs to the family of Urticaceae. The species is categorized into six subspecies which have been known as a source of medicine, food, and fibre since ancient times. Five out of these subspecies have hollow stinging hairs on the leaves and stems that are called trichomes. These trichomes act like hypodermic needles which when are contacted with human or animal skin inject histamine and other chemicals. As a result, a stinging sensation occurs.
Beside medicinal uses and human food, nettles also serve as larval food plant for a lot of species of butterflies, including tortoiseshell butterfly or the peacock butterfly. The plant is also food for the larvae of some moths such as dot moth, the flame, mouse moth, setaceous Heberew character, small angle shades, buffermine, etc.
This is a flowering plant species belonging to the milkweed genus. Also known as tropical milkweed, Asclepias is a source of cardiac glycosides, asclepin, uzarin, calotropin, and their free genins. It also contains glycosides of asclepin, ß- sitosterol, and oleanolic acid. The tropical milkweed also serve as food for butterflies.
There are several species of butterflies in the butterfly park in this garden. The most common species found are:
Dark Clouded Yellow Colias fieldii
Usually called clouded yellows, Colias is a butterfly genus in the family Pieridae.
These are found throughout the Holartic, including the arctic regions, South America, Africa, India, and China. The caterpillar of this species feed on certain Fabaceae and helps keep weeds away. The males of some species have beautiful ultraviolet reflection. As they don’t sequester noxious compounds or toxins from their food plants, insectivores love to prey on them.
Here are some more shots from the Himalaya Botanic Garden.
It is located about 5 km from Nainital near Sariyatal, on the Nainital-Kaladhungi road.
The garden is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm.
How to Reach
The nearest airport is at Pantanagar (65 km) which only operates chartered flights. Delhi airport is 290 kms away and you can take a bus or hire a car to reach Nainital. The nearest railway station is located in Kathgodam (34 km) from Nainital. You can hire a taxi from outside the station to reach the city. Local tour operators and car services are easily available in Nainital for sightseeing.
Where to Stay
There are numerous accommodation options available in and around Nainital for all budgets.
Best Time to Visit
It can be visited throughout the year. The summer season that extends from March to June and October are the most comfortable period to visit. November- February is the winter months here and temperature may drop below the freezing point. However, avoid the monsoons which are prone to heavy rainfall and landslides in the area.