Birds, Butterflies, 1700 Trees: Bengaluru Man Grows Terrace Jungle
Nataraja gives credit to the jungle on his terrace for keeping his house cool, says he does not use a fan in summer.
A retired engineer from Bengaluru, Nataraja Upadhya has created a thriving urban jungle on his terrace with 300 varieties of trees that host 50 types of butterflies and about a dozen birds.
At a time when temperatures across metro cities have consistently risen over the years, Nataraja tells The Better India, “The best part is that I do not need a cooler or fan during the summer, but definitely a thicker blanket in winters.”
In the early summer of 2010, Nataraja Upadhya was feeling the need to set up a water cooler to deal with the impending heat. As he geared up for temperatures to soar in Bengaluru, where he lives, he thought of how he could help regulate the temperature in his own home.
According to a report in The Better India, he was already maintaining a garden in front of his house, located in Vivekanandanagar in Banashankari area. Hence, he decided to begin gardening on his terrace as well, to have a relatively cool roof.
“Bengaluru is known as a garden city, but today, the scenery has been replaced by a concrete jungle. Rampant tree cutting due to growing urbanisation and climate change have resulted in rising temperatures,” Nataraja tells The Better India.
Up until 2008, the 58-year-old IT professional had been leading a hectic lifestyle. Once he retired, his aim has been to concentrate on his health. “I was working 18 hours and driving around five hours a day. My specially-abled wife and two daughters needed me. Hence, I quit to focus on my health and family,” he says.
Hailing from a farming family in Parampalli in Udupi, he decided to go back to his roots, and pursue his love for gardening and nature. “I’d spent years of my childhood growing plants with my father. Even before I began pursuing engineering, I used to maintain the plants in our balcony,” he recalls.
Banking on this previous experience, Nataraja began growing plants in rice bags and discarded containers. “I started by growing a few vegetables and medicinal plants. My home has a terrace of around 1,500 sq-ft, which opened the potential to grow bigger plants and trees. So by 2012, I started growing trees in recycled 55-litre drums,” he says.
Over the past years, Nataraja’s consistent efforts have seen the growth of 300 varieties of plants, including 100 trees of 72 species, creepers, fruit trees, and vegetables. The terrace has a dense green cover, with trees including moringa, bamboo, drumstick, tamarind, and wild fig.
“I call it an urban evergreen forest, as the greenery never fades. The creepers from the ground are connected to the roof and create a natural curtain. There are some plantations on 400 sq-ft of the garden, as well as along the protection wall of the house. The overall greenery helps keep temperatures at bay by 2-3 degree Celsius,” he adds.
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