The State Department of Forests is preparing a slew of new tourist attractions including a ‘Star Garden’ after the order of the Malayalam astrological calendar within the 134-hectare Kapprikkdad reserve forests, close to the famous elephant kraal in Kodanad, about 35 km east of Kochi.

The Star Garden will be part of a larger arboretum, which is being set up as a component of the long-pending Abhayaranyam project. An orchidarium, fernerium, bambusetum, a herbal garden, wild edible fruit trees garden and a children’s park are also being set up under phase two of the project, which is expected to cost nearly Rs. 1 crore.

The first part of the Abhayanyam comprises a mini zoo and an animal rescue centre. The master plan for this component of the project was submitted to the Central Zoo Authority about three months ago.

The Star Garden will comprise the 27 trees linked to the equal number of stars in Malayalam astrology. The authorities hope that planting trees linked to stars under which a person is born will create more awareness about trees and nature and help preserve them better.

Trees, for their preservation, have been linked to stars.

It is a strategy deployed by seers from the Vedic times and in Kerala trees associated with stars include the common jack (plaavu) and mango (maavu) trees and the less common nuxvomica (kaanjiram) and cluster fig (athi) trees.

The more exotic trees linked to starts include the ironwood (naagappoomaram), Samudrakkaya (fish poison) and Arjuna (neermarutha) trees.

Some of these trees are located in interior forests and some are hard to come by, said the Assistant Conservator of Forests and Wildlife Warden B. N. Nagaraj on Friday.

He said that the preliminary work on the second phase of the project was underway and was expected to be completed latest by March next year.

The wild edible fruit trees garden will have 67 trees from 26 families; the medicinal plants garden will have 101 plants from 42 families; the herbal garden will have 117 plants from 29 families and the orchidarium will comprise 67 wild varieties and 60 varieties of the less exotic. The bambusetum will have 75 varieties available across Kerala. More varieties are likely to be sourced from States like Assam.

The arboretum will have trees under the evergreen, deciduous and mangrove categories. The evergreen will comprise 101 trees from 36 families; the deciduous category will comprise 118 trees from 37 families and the mangrove category will have 11 trees from six families.

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