A unique hill garden spread on 22 acres of land on way to the airport, which was set up in 2004, has become a big draw here. On Sunday and holidays, on an average, 800 to 1,000 people visit the garden. In the past five years, about 25 lakh people from Bhuj and outside have visited it.
Talking to mediapersons on Saturday to mark the fifth anniversary of the garden, Mohan Shah, chairman of the Bhuj Rotary Charitable Society that runs the garden, said it had become a model for creating a similar hill-top structure at Rajkot. “Rajkot collector had sought our help for its (Rajkot garden’s) management. We were consulted even for the development of Kankaria lake garden in Ahmedabad,’’ he said. He said the hill garden had almost all kinds of rides, funworld games, two small lakes for boating atop the hill and skeleton of Asia’s biggest 75-feet blue whale which was found dead in the creek area. There were plans to construct a dome at a cost of Rs22.5 lakh for it.
“The hill garden was constructed by the government and handed over to us to run it. We were allowed to charge Rs5 per visitor for its maintenance, but we are charging Rs2 only,” he said.
“This being the vacation time, we would provide students lunch at a cost of Re1, so that they do not remain hungry while spending the whole day at the garden,” he said.
“There are various private rides, but our aim is to install our own rides from donations so that children do not have to pay a single paise. We are also going to dispense with the entry fee,’’ he said.
Shah said, seeing the success of the hill garden, the government had now promised financial help for its expansion. “We have got a letter from TCGL to develop it as a tourist spot since it is on way to the airport. We are currently developing a unique cactus garden, which would have 550 varieties of cactus. The garden is almost ready and likely to be thrown open to public shortly,” he said.
He said work on a three-dimensional theatre for holding cultural programmes was on and the facility would be inaugurated within a fortnight.
Project chairman and industrialist Manilal Thackar said they welcomed the government move to provide financial help for further development of the hill garden. “We meet maintenance expenses from the meagre Rs2 entry fee and from donations from philanthropists. We have 30 member watch and ward and other staff to run it. Without permanent source of income, it is difficult to run and further develop it,” he said.