By Asha Balakrishnan
Valentine’s Day 2020: Stop and smell the roses-I literally follow this age old good advice when I travel to Hosur via Bangalore or Salem. The weather is the reason why the Britishers called Hosur as "India's Little England" during their rule. Every time I travel this route, I stop by to admire the many rose farms and poly houses, to soak in the beauty of every whorl and colour of the beautiful roses.
Hosur’s gardeners and farmers are very warm and welcoming. Each time I stop by, we share conversations, they invite us home for lunch or offer a glass of buttermilk. They are also very generous to give me bonus in the form of a rose plant, tomatoes, chayote, Brinjals or whatever they grow. In fact, recently, an Intellectual property attorney has also applied for GI tag for the "Hosur roses".
Hosur – Tamil Nadu's Agricultural and Industrial Town
Hosur is a little historical, industrial and agricultural town in the state of Tamil Nadu. A very humble town which is not proud of its various honours, perhaps the reason it is not so popular. All around the town if you observe, you will find historical and archaeological evidence that pre-dates this town to 2000 years.
During Sangam-age it was called 'Muraasu nadu' and ruled by King Adiyamaan, the King who gave gooseberry to Tamil poetess Avaiyaar to prolong her life. The Cholas, Rajputs, Nayaks, Hoysalas, British East India during Lord Cornwallis time, Tipu sultan and many more have ruled this place.
This town is home to many small scale and large scale industries producing automobile bodies, automotive spares, high precision aero parts, watches, bio-tech, agriculture, tissue culture, pharmaceuticals and many more.
A place which cannot be classified as a ‘laid back’ town or a ‘hyper-active’ town, It takes a middle path.
From what I have observed generally, people here have the approach of 'Work while you work, play while you play'. Maybe because the majority of them have jobs with 9-5 schedules in Industries unlike many MNCs which work across different time zones.
Hosur's Horticulture and Floriculture Exports
Tons of vegetables are exported to other parts of the country and this town also houses prime floriculture companies. One of its prime revenue generators is through its horticulture and floriculture exports.
Hosur soil is said to be very fertile and ideal to grow European vegetables like broccoli, carrots, beets, bell peppers, asparagus etc. This is possible not only because of the fertile soil but also because this place is elevated 3000ft above sea level and thus enjoys a compatible and salubrious climate, all round the year.
Valentine’s Day 2020: Hosur Roses galore!
Many agri-export companies based here have their project sites around the main town like Denkanikottai, Bagalur, Thally etc. They breed, cultivate and export flowers like carnations, lilies, gerbera and the world famous valentine red rose called 'Taj Mahal'. This variety created by a rose breeder in Holland is patented and cultivated in Hosur. It is a deep red budded rose with long stalks and big leaves.
Another rose by name 'Kohinoor' which is a baby orange-pink rose is also cultivated here. The main markets for these flowers are Europe, Australia, The Middle East and Japan. The valentine rose was patented in 2009 and the exports have been doubled, tripled and some years they dip too.
Talking to a rose grower, in Bagalur (near Hosur), who was growing the Damask rose popularly called 'Paneer rose', said he also grows cassandra, chrysanthemum, marigold, tuberose for domestic and international markets. The flowers he grows are auctioned in the famous Hosur flower markets to retailers where they reach homes for daily pooja or special occasions like wedding.
Hosur rose growers call it a competitive industry
With the passage of time, flowers have gone beyond decorating gods, sacred spaces and many other places. They now decorate office establishments, living rooms, as gifts etc. The rose grower also said that growing flowers now is a highly competitive industry.
With the introduction of new techniques, cultivators now grow and develop new flowers which leads to change in the trend of consumers.
Valentine’s Day 2020: Special Valentine Roses and more!
The new generation employs modern technology, maximise their production and offers better quality flowers. What does this mean for the common man? Simply put, a better price for Valentine's Day roses or flowers.
The rose grower from Hosur further explained that the developed cut flowers like the valentine roses are grown in poly houses under controlled conditions. The buds are covered with netted bud caps so their shape remains in bud form. Their petals are also thick so that they can withstand long distance travels.
These flowers grown here travel in refrigerated vans to Bangalore and then airlifted to various countries like Amsterdam, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Australia etc.
As I type this looking at the rose plant in my balcony garden; the subtle fragrance, its rich colour and artistry of whorls reminds of Emperor Jahangir's quote "No other scent of equal excellence...It lifts the spirit and refreshes the soul".
So the next time you happen to pass this Hosur route, do stop by to smell the roses – a soothing balm for city souls. If lucky, you could also relish the refreshing buttermilk, enjoy a lively conversation and also carry home a lovely rose plant to adorn your garden along with some fragrant memories.
(Asha Balakrishnan is a storyteller by passion, with varied interests such as blogging, organic gardening, reading, art and craft, yoga and traveling. Views expressed are personal.)