Where people came to see roses… and trample them too!

February 25th, 2008 - 1:16 pm ICT by admin  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Feb 25 (IANS) They came, 300,000 of them, to the Rose Festival in this ‘city beautiful’ but ended up trampling over flowerbeds and littering the sprawling Zakir Rose Garden here with paper plates, water bottles, crumpled napkins and what have you. The annual three-day festival ended Sunday evening on a sorry note. The sprawling 42 acres of landscaped greens dotted with hundreds of varieties of colourful roses and trees and considered the largest of its kind in Asia got a record number of visitors in its 36th edition.

It was a virtual sea of humanity Sunday, the last day of the event, with crowds far exceeding the expectations of the Chandigarh administration that organises the event.

The crowds left parts of the garden in a mess - with people trampling the very roses that they had come to see and walking through the well-laid flowerbeds.

Worse still were those who threw waste all over the garden, particularly in the flowerbeds.

“We never thought that the crowds would be so big. This time there were over 300,000 people who visited the garden during the festival,” Chandigarh’s Home Secretary Krishna Mohan told IANS.

Chandigarh has a population of nearly 1.1 million people. Packed in buses, trucks and even tractor trolleys, hundreds of people come to the city for the annual festival from adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The festival also attracts people from other parts of the country and abroad.

Mohan added that the rose festival was the only event of its kind where over 5,000 people participated in various competitions and cultural events alone.

The garden, named after former president Zakir Hussain, was set up in 1967 and was the brainchild of Chandigarh’s first chief commissioner and keen horticulturist M.S. Randhawa - a man credited with giving the city millions of trees and a number of gardens and green belts. The garden has nearly 50,000 rose plants of over 600 species.

“It is great to see so many people coming for the rose festival given that there is no commercial activity like food and retail stalls being allowed here any longer. It shows that the popularity of the festival is growing,” Chandigarh’s Tourism Director Vivek Atray said.

The festival saw cultural programmes by artistes from all parts of the country, folk dances, songs, plays, a photography competition, a rose quiz and even a rose prince and princess competition for children.

A new addition this year was the display of vintage cars.

The event ended with Bollywood singer Sunidhi Chauhan getting hundreds of people on their feet at the Leisure Valley with her popular numbers from Hindi films Sunday evening.

Now if only the crowds had maintained discipline.

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