The botanical garden, coming up near Chilkur Balaji Temple, is not just unique but a magical world
Hyderabad: Unique is what R Ramdev Rao calls his nursery, about 40 km from the city, and quite near the Chilkur Balaji Temple. He is being modest. Step into the nursery, or the massive botanical garden on the other side of the road that Rao is designing, and you will understand right from the green arch at the entry, it is not just unique. A magical world that is every bit from a dream that Rao, a native of Warangal settled in Hyderabad, has been seeing since his childhood, there is nothing ordinary about the entire place.
The Fine Arts graduate, who has been behind several business ventures like Unique Inflatables, Unique Villas and now Unique Trees Nursery (www.uniquetrees.in), says trees have been his passion always. His hostel room in college was a mini forest. After he got into the business, his main pastime while visiting other countries, 75 of which he has done so far, was to check out botanical gardens and nurseries.
Back home, his struggle to get a licence to import fully grown trees took two years and it finally came in 2011-2012. From then on, Rao’s magical world has been growing. Tree by tree. A collection which he says no one else in the country has, the trees include the rarest of the rare from 85 countries. Trees with rare trunk formations, trees with strangely shaped but beautiful foliage, topiaries, cycads, desert trees and plants and what are classified truly exotic are just some on the list.
“I wanted only the exotic. Something different. Which people will feel good to look at and be mesmerised,” says Rao, who points out that the 150 acres on which the Green Kingdom is coming up, was actually flat land. “I spent Rs 18 crore only to make these mounds and to design it aesthetically. I’m an artist, and with these sculptures and unique trees, I can promise you that this will be a garden that you will not get to see anywhere else in the world,” he says.
Rao has his own sculpture factory, another rare one in the country, where sculptures are designed on a computer, mini models made and then enlarged and machine-produced into gigantic ones, some from stone, some from ceramic, some from shining stainless steel, bronze, brass and even terracotta. An example is a giant cat leaning on the flyover near IKEA.
“I haven’t looked at profits,” says Rao, who already spent about Rs 180 crore on the unique botanical garden, with the total cost to be at least Rs 400 crore. “It is pure passion, and with which I hope to inspire others,” he adds. That passion has so far seen exotic and unique species of plants imported from countries like Italy, Spain, Mexico, Australia, Vietnam and Thailand, just to name a few, and yes, many from what is known as the tree heaven, Madagascar.
“They were specially selected for habitat compatibility and then crafted keeping in mind the aesthetic, design and landscaping needs of commercial and residential establishments in India,” says Rao. His wife Srilakshmi along with daughter Rinvidha and son Vinvidh are the main pillars of support for him, Rao says, adding that he plans to have one tree from every country across the world in the botanical garden.
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