For fresh air and a sense of the open, city residents have only one place to go: the Museum grounds

Every city needs a green space, to offer its denizens a breather from the dust and din. Here in the capital, the Museum premises have long served that purpose. The Museum public gardens and the zoological park, have been pulling in people since the since the 19 century. The layout still has its charm, often making the place the favoured choice for an evening outing.

S. Rema, who moved to the city from Chennai over 20 years ago, finds the public gardens “comfortable, though it is more congested now.” There are grouses, though. “The lighting during late evenings is poor. It has to be improved since people who work late can get their quota of exercise only in the evenings,” she says. “Also, poor parking facilities here at times force me to consider Shangumughom Beach as an alternative for a weekend break.” That was one refrain shared by most visitors.

For Raghavan, a regular walker, congestion is the prime problem. “I come here often, if not for a walk, then at least for some quiet. Earlier we could walk without bumping into people. We had only trees for company then,” he says glancing disapprovingly at the frames of colour bulbs placed all across the grounds for Onam.

As busy as a bee

Administrative records show how “busy throughout the year: the garden section had been. The annual report of 1942 describes what a tough job the curator had because of the growing number of visitors. Apart from the maintenance of the 50 acres (which includes the zoo), the staff here had to constantly beautify the biggest public space in the city.

Director of the Museums and Zoos B. Joseph said that apart from re-tarring the roads on the premises, others construction plans had been put on hold. The priority was to maintain the grounds well, which was being done daily. “We have tendered waste disposal to an outside party. They cart away plastic and biodegradable waste every day,” he said.