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Henarathgoda Botanical Garden – Gampaha

Description

Henarathgoda Botanical Garden is located near Gampaha, about 450 m away from Gampaha railway station, on Gampaha-Minuwangoda main road. It was founded in 1876 by the British to conduct operations on exotic industrial plants such as Rubber and explore plant wealth and expansion of the economy in the territory. The garden consists of a broad type of plants, and many of them are from each corner of the tropical climatic zones and includes the land of 43 acres.
The prime imported rubber tree to Sri Lanka was first settled in this garden. It held the first seedlings of Brazilian rubber tree ever colonised in Asia after the seeds burrowed out from the Pará, Santarém, Brazil by British explorer Sir Henry Alexander Wickham did introduce to Sri Lanka from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The British scientists examined their tests on Sri Lanka due to the collapse of Rubber trials in India. They found that Ceylon offers the same environmental condition as that of the Amazon. These trees bloomed in 1880, and from the following year, Rubber seeds were distributed throughout the country and some other British colonies in South and Southeast Asia.

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During the British colonial era, Sri Lanka served as a valuable outpost for cultivating lucrative crops. Rubber, native to South America, caught the attention of the ruling British as a potential source of income. Dr GHK. Thwaitts, the Director of the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, spearheaded the quest to find a suitable location for rubber cultivation. After careful consideration, Henarathgoda emerged as the ideal ground for this pioneering endeavour.

In 1876, the British cleared the land at Henarathgoda, preparing it for rubber cultivation. The following year, rubber seedlings were imported from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew and planted within the gardens. The caretaker of the park at that time, Muhandiram A de Zoysa, played a crucial role in nurturing and developing the rubber plantation.

Rubber cultivation in the gardens

Despite facing early setbacks, such as the death of the first rubber plant in Gampaha Gardens and the destruction of the second plant by a hurricane in 1988, Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens persevered. Today, it proudly hosts the largest rubber plant in Sri Lanka, a towering specimen reaching a height of 40 meters with a circumference of 5.7 meters. This enduring symbol of resilience is a living testament to the gardens' historical significance.

Over the years, Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens expanded its scope beyond rubber cultivation. It evolved into a prominent botanical garden on the island, housing a diverse collection of plant species from Sri Lanka and other countries. The gardens' landscape is adorned with remnants of the first rubber plant and other plants that have withstood the test of time since the 19th century.

The historical significance of Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens

Visitors exploring Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens encounter more than just a lush and vibrant ecosystem. The old Henarathgoda Railway Station, preserved as an archaeological site, is a window into the gardens' historical past. This station, built to accommodate foreign scientists travelling by train for rubber research, is a testament to the garden's role as a hub of scientific inquiry during colonial times.

Moreover, Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens has etched its name in Sri Lanka's history as the birthplace of rubber cultivation. Its contribution to the economic growth of the country, as well as the preservation of botanical heritage, cannot be understated. The gardens' historical significance connects the past and present, reminding us of the strides made in the field of horticulture and the enduring value of biodiversity.

Botanical and horticultural attractions

Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens is more than a historical landmark; it is a trove of botanical wonders. With a collection of approximately 2,000 plant species, including endemic and exotic varieties, the gardens offer a captivating journey through Sri Lanka's diverse flora. From towering trees to delicate orchids, every corner reveals nature's masterpieces, captivating the senses and inspiring awe.

These botanical collections play a crucial role in preserving Sri Lanka's biodiversity. By showcasing a wide range of plant species, Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens raises awareness about the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship. The gardens serve as an educational resource, offering visitors a glimpse into plants' intricate and interconnected world and their vital role in sustaining life on Earth.

Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens is a testament to Sri Lanka's rich botanical heritage and historical significance. From its humble beginnings as a rubber research ground to its current status as a haven for diverse plant species, this garden continues to captivate visitors with its timeless charm. As we immerse ourselves in the lush greenery and explore the remnants of the past, we are reminded of the intertwined relationship between nature and human history. Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens is a living tribute to the beauty and resilience of Sri Lanka's natural wonders.


FAQs

1. Can visitors explore the old Henarathgoda Railway Station? Yes, the old Henarathgoda Railway Station is open to visitors. It is preserved as an archaeological site and offers insights into the historical significance of the gardens.

2. Are there guided tours available at Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens? Yes, guided tours are available for visitors who want to explore the gardens and learn more about the diverse plant species and historical aspects.

3. Can I see the first rubber plant planted in the gardens? Yes, remnants of the first rubber plant and other plants from the 19th century can still be seen in Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens.

4. What is the significance of the largest rubber plant in Sri Lanka? The largest rubber plant in Sri Lanka, thriving in Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens, symbolizes the gardens' historical importance and resilience in the face of challenges.

5. How many plant species are found in Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens? Henarathgoda Botanic Gardens houses approximately 2,000 plant species, showcasing the rich biodiversity of Sri Lanka and other countries.

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