The limited green cover in Chennai often forces us to hunt for options where one can consume some fresh air and enjoy the sight of greenery. Not many are aware of the existence of a beautiful botanical garden,Semmozhi Poonga, right at the Cathedral Road. It is open since 6 am in the morning till about 8 pm and is a great place to jog, spend a day out with kids or plan a family picnic. The garden was inaugurated in 2010 by then chief Minister Dr.M. Karunanidhi and is the first botanical garden in the city.
Encompassing an area of 20 acres (320 grounds), it was built at a cost of ₹ 80 million. More than 500 species of plants are being grown in the area, in addition to the 80 trees that already existed before. Some of them are more than 100 years old. The garden houses some of the exotic flora and rare plant species, medicinal and aromatic herbs imported from countries like China and Thailand, including a plethora of bonsai varieties.
It is divided into eight sub-gardens displaying flora of different varieties, such as a tree court, mural walk and bonsai, herbal and exotic gardens, in addition to an artificial duck pond. Incorporating elements of an Indian-Buddhist garden, the garden has a wide variety of indigenous species across 22 exclusive areas including palm court, tree court, golden garden (featuring plants that flower in different shades of gold), water and rock garden, butterfly garden, fern garden, sunken garden and theme garden.
The garden is extremely popular among fitness enthusiasts for early morning jogs and walks. It is also an attractive picnic spot for families during winter months as the kids have a separate play area and there is a butterfly park. It also serves as a great location for photo and cinema shoots.
During Cyclone Vardah the garden suffered some damage but it is being renovated now and is all set to have swanky washrooms and new benches to sit upon apart from refurbishment of play area and butterfly park.