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Kishkinda Moolika Bonsai Garden

With different species of bonsai trees ranging from three years to 200 years old, Kishkinda Moolika Bonsai Garden at Sri Avadhoota Datta Peetha in Mysore, India is billed as the largest bonsai gardens in the country.

It has 250 bonsai trees grown in different styles and procured from various countries.

What was a mere interest in horticulture turned into a passion for Sri Ganapathi Sachidananda Swamy of Sri Avadhoota Datta Peetha who has India's largest collection of bonsai trees in the Chinese-type garden at his ashram in Mysore.

According to the swamiji, bonsai trees have not been procured and brought to Mysore for mere ornamental purpose but to create awareness on their medicinal values. The ashram procured bonsai trees from countries such as China, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand, West Indies, Australia and Brazil.

An art perfected over 2,000 years, which is now a ray of hope for those living in high-rise buildings, bonsai has emerged as a popular hobby among those who lack the luxury of having their own garden.

While many practise the art as a hobby, some grow bonsai plants for medicinal purpose. Some rare varieties, including writia reliogosia, golden casurina, ficus microcarpa and maple, are in the ashram's garden. It also has a few varieties of marine bonsai trees. Some authorities believe that Ayurvedic medicines had great influence on traditional Chinese medicine. The travelling Chinese "medicine men" used to carry with them live plants to treat their patients. To make them easy to carry, the plants were constantly trimmed.

Eventually, the "medicine men" realised that this treatment of constant trimming reduced the plants' leaf size as well as it encouraged the plants to develop dense twigs.

P.V. Govindraj, Hyderabad-based bonsai consultant, told The Hindu that the garden boasts of some of the best collections with trees perfected in various bonsai traditions.

They include bunjin, saikei, penjing, formal and informal upright, cascade, single, double and multi-trunk and wind swept styles.

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