Full Bloom Bengaluru

The curious case of roses at Bengaluru’s K.R. Market


Over generations and across cultures, roses have come to symbolise love. A single rose stands for love at first sight; two for mutual friendship; three spell the words, ‘I love you’. But what does a tonne of roses mean? Business, of course.

It’s 2 a.m. at K.R. Market in Bengaluru, and trucks carrying roses in all hues are rolling in. The air is infused with the mingled scents of thousands of flowers. Soon, the crowds start to come, and business begins. And on Valentine’s Day, roses are the obvious star.

India’s tryst with roses goes back to the Mughals who, according to the Indian Rose Federation, came to the country with camel-loads of the flowers. As roses blossomed through the country and horticulture elevated it to an art form, the flowers crossed borders and kingdoms. Bengaluru’s climate was perfect to grow it, and Mysuru kings Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan took an active interest in horticulture.

The flower is the life breath for other industries such as attar or rose-scented agarbatti. Bengaluru alone sells 30 to 40 lakh rose stems each day, says B.B. Devaiah, general manager of International Flower Auction Bangalore (IFAB). A.S. Patil grows roses in Doddaballapura, and he plans his harvest cycle in such a way that he can bring the most roses to K.R. Market and the IFAB around February 14. “The rose is the king of flowers,” he says simply.

(Images and text by Bhagya Prakash K)

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