When I did finally go there, I would not be wrong in describing the Alice Garden as an urban forest! It did have a proper gate, one ‘proper’ lawn, some dirt tracks to walk around and some swings for kids to play but I am not really sure how many kids come there, located as it is amid an institution of higher studies. I guess children from the staff quarters must be using it….
The main attraction is its huge trees. Easily at a height of five storeys, one can only guess the species based on leaves, fruit, flowers, twigs that had fallen on the ground. However we must thank some one for having thoughtfully labelled the trees which makes the subsequent process easier! The pretty foliage Filicium decipiens (Fern leaf tree) welcomes you and the path immediately splits into two. Choose any and walk around, enjoy the bird sounds and enjoy the earthy smell. I have always visited in the morning or evening but I doubt much sunlight reaches the floor through the thick tree canopy. We spot the Joannesia princeps (Arara Nut tree – indigenous to Brazil) and the Bauhinia vahlii. The joy is doubled as these are not labelled! There is a massive Sapindus emarginatus (Reetha), Caesalpinia coriaria (Divi divi), Guazuma ulimfolia (West Indian Elm) and and Tabebuia species.
There is small pond – an extremely peaceful spot provided one is lathered oneself with mosquito repellants! That is to be expected, really, considering one is amid thick greenery. Possibly a birders delight!
I am told that the Alice Garden is a treasure for those keen to study spiders. In fact, a recently organised Spider Walk at this place was a huge hit!
I notice a few dedicated walkers in this park who had shunned the tarred roads outside for their morning exercise. Other than them, there is some staff in a plant nursery which did not seem to be selling the plants. No other humans are visible.
The University itself is from the period when the British were present in Pune so I guess the garden is about two hundred years old. It is named after Alice Richmans. The Alice Garden has an interesting legend as well. According to some reports, the garden is haunted. Follow this link to read more about these anecdotes.
I leave you to decide.