Mini zoo amid a spice garden

The students of Ashok Hall recently visited the bageecha, where they had first-hand experience of sylvan nature.

Mini zoo amid a spice garden

Imagine exploring nature in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle. With concrete jungles all around, it seems like a bit of an oxymoron.

But in reality, one can be one with nature, feel the early morning dew, and breathe in the fresh air at the ‘spice garden’ in the Garden Reach area. A trip to this mini-forest and minizoo, replete with a wide variety of trees, plants, herbs, fruits, flowers, honeycombs, a park, animals, birds like emu and even a tree house, is worth it.

Simply put, it is an ‘experience’ worth exploring.


As one walks in, a pair of emus startles you with their presence. Enclosed within an open space, visitors, after the initial euphoria of sighting them, are mesmerised by the minigarden. And in case you are thinking of a garden house, think again! Spice Bageecha is helmed by Lata Bajoria, who has painstakingly built her labour of love over the years.

She is happy to welcome children and adults alike who love and value nature. She wants to share and spread the message that humans must protect and preserve Mother Nature.

She wants people to understand the importance of biodiversity and how one should imbibe the qualities of empathy and sympathy for co-existence.

The ecospace is an attempt at nature conservation, setting the natural imbalance right. So this biodiversity park in the city, which is trying to restore the ecosystem so precious for human existence, is an asset. The Garden Reach house, which shares common resources like water and shelter with many organisms, creates a more balanced ecosystem.

So, a honey bee, drone fly, hoverfly, and potter wasp can find habitat amongst the cranberry hibiscus, sandhya malati, snapdragon (antirrhinum) and other flower varieties. It is an absolute delight to find butterfly varieties like the plain tiger, striped albatross, common cross, and common Mormon flying around the garden.

Asian palm civets, mongoose, blackrumped flameback (woodpecker), pied starling, emu, oriental garden lizards, etc. all share space here. Mrs Bajoria also plans heritage walks at her property so that more people can join in nurturing nature.

“I want people, especially children, to be sensitive to nature. We are losing touch with plants and animals. Here, I’m sensitising children about ecology. I developed a deep liking for nature at a very early age, and now I am trying to pass on the interest to others and tell others that nature heals us,” she said.

The students of Ashok Hall recently visited the bageecha, where they had first-hand experience of sylvan nature. Shraddha Oza, ECA coordinator, Ashok Hall Group of Schools, who organised the trip, observed that every student should be introduced to nature so that they start respecting nature.

“We are all part of nature. If we don’t respect nature, neither will it respect us. That is what ecodiversity is, and we need to explain it to our kids,.” she added in her visit.

Many medicinal herbs, like aloe vera, insulin plant (Chamaecostus cuspidatus), gurmar, can also be found at the bageecha. A mini-zoo on the property houses a python, rabbits, koi fish, hedgehogs, red-eared slider turtles, ducks and a few more varieties of animals.

Over the years, many of the animals have been rescued by Mrs Bajoria, who is a life member of the Alipore Zoo and gets help from the zoo authorities in dealing with the animals.

The senior citizen not only inspires visitors; she is equally hospitable to them with her vegan food from her organic kitchen. School kids are most happy to be at the space where Mrs Bajoria has a notice, which clearly mentions that visitors are allowed inside the garden only if they walk barefoot, which can be therapeutic indeed! She explains to them the harmony between the flora and fauna in her garden.

She has welcomed many cancer patients and patients suffering from Alzheimer’s as well. The author is a journalist on the staff of The Statesman.