Overview of the SSR Botanical Gardens
The Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens is the largest botanical garden in Mauritius and one of the most visited attractions. Located in the tranquil town of Pamplemousses, the garden stretches for over 30 hectares, with hundreds of varieties of plants including a number of rare and endangered endemic species.
The botanical garden is filled with a beautiful collection of trees, shrubs and perennials- some of which bloom in summer and others in winter. The garden also houses 85 different varieties of palm trees brought from all over the world. A large pond filled with giant water lilies is another iconic attraction that draws many. There are some animals present in the garden, including numerous birds, tortoises, deer, fish, turtles and bats.
A number of monuments and sites present throughout the garden will provide a glance back into the colonial period. Opt for a guided tour to learn more about the garden and its landmarks or enjoy a stroll along the numerous avenues. There are some kiosks dotted around, where you can pause and contemplate on the scenery.
History of the SSR Botanical Gardens
It is believed that the establishment of the garden dates back to 1735 when Mahé de Labourdonnais purchased the estate to set up a vegetable garden to supply Port Louis and incoming ships. It is the oldest botanical garden in the Southern Hemisphere. Before Pierre Poivre bought the property in 1770, it was used as a plantation field and abandoned a couple of times.
Pierre Poivre and his successor Nicolas Céré, played a pivotal role in establishing the garden. They introduced several species such as nutmeg, cloves and numerous indigenous plants, as well as the large fishpond with giant waterlilies. Most of Céré’s life and fortune had been dedicated to creating the garden, until his death in 1810.
When the British took over the island, the garden suffered a period of neglect. With the arrival of James Duncan in 1849, the garden’s former beauty was somewhat restored. Duncan also contributed largely to the garden by introducing a number of palm tree species. In 1913, the Department of Agriculture was appointed to oversee the garden.
It was named Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Garden in 1987, after the prominent political figure and first prime minister of Mauritius. He was very fond of the garden and his funerary monument can be found on the grounds.
Sites and Attractions at the SSR Botanical Gardens
Chateau de Mon Plaisir
The Chateau de Mon Plaisir was previously the residence of governor Mahe de Labourdonnais. During the 19th century, the British built the present standing building as an office-mansion. It was used as an administration office and then as an exhibition hall displaying photographs. It has recently been closed to the public, due to renovation and is listed under the Protected National Monuments of Mauritius. In front of the Chateau, a number of trees have been planted by notable political figures such as Nelson Mandela.
Victoria Amazonica Pond
One of the main attractions of the garden is the large rectangular pond with giant water lilies. Discovered in the Amazonia and named after Queen Victoria, the ‘Victoria Amazonica’ was introduced to the Mauritan gardens in 1927. Their leaves can grow up to 3 meters in diameter and their flowers bloom for only 2 days before sinking to the bottom of the pond.
Old Sugar Mill Model
In 1953, the Mauritian Chamber of Agriculture constructed an old sugar mill model in the garden. It has served as both a reminder of the island’s history as well as an educational monument. Ox-drawn cylinders would crush the sugarcane where the juice would be collected and filtered. The juice would then be cooked and set in molds.
At the main entrance, there is an impressive wrought iron gate, which was gifted by Francois Lienard, a Frenchman born in India. It won first prize at the International Exhibitions at London’s Crystal Palace in 1862. The white iron gate stands majestically at the entrance of the garden with white railings running along the walls, cast in an iconic Victorian style.
Another addition to the garden from Francois Lienard, is a white column of marble found at the end of one of the garden’s avenues. The names of those who have contributed to the island as well as the names of benefactors have been engraved on one side of the column. The other side has a philosophical saying of Bernardin de Saint Pierre.
The first Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, was cremated in this garden, and his ashes were brought to the Holy Ganges River in India. A funerary monument, also known as the Samadhi, can be found near the Chateau de Mon Plaisir where a lotus flower sits on top with the inscription ‘In beloved Memory of the Father of the Nation’. Beloved Hindu gods are depicted with the lotus flower, representing wisdom and spirituality.
Flora at the SSR Botanical Gardens
The garden stretches over endless acres of land and has over 650 varieties of plants, among which are Baobabs, Giant water lilies and dozens of medicinal plants & herbs. There are over 80 different species of palm trees in the garden, including the tailpot palm which only flowers once every 50 years, before dying.
Some endemic plants, which you may come across, include the Trochetia boutoniana (a shrub with red bell-shaped flowers), the Dombeya (an endangered endemic shrub with pink flowers) and the Senecio Lamarckianus (a rare species with yellow flowers in clusters). Exotic species can also be found such as the spider lily, Amazonia Victoria and various types of orchids.
Fauna at the SSR Botanical Gardens
The garden hosts a number of animals including deer and tortoises. The Aldabra tortoises are one of the largest tortoises in the world and originally hail from the Aldabra Island, part of the Seychelles Outer Islands. They were first brought to the garden in 1875 in an effort to protect their young from being preyed on by seabirds or hunted by humans. The Dutch introduced the Rusa deer species to Mauritius, from Batavia.
A number of indigenous birds can be seen as well including the Moorhen, Bulbul, Green Heron and the Mauritian Olive-White Eye. Some species of lizard are also found on the trees, such as the Phelsuma lizard.
Facilities at the SSR Botanical Gardens
- Guided Tours
- Golf-cart Rental
- Free Parking
- Wheel chair available on request
Every day (including public holidays): 08h30 – 17h30
Getting to the SSR Botanical Gardens
Address: Royal Road, Parc, Pamplemoussess, Mauritius
The SSR Botanical Garden is located in the district and town of Pamplemousses. It is about 10km away from the capital, Port Louis and a 15-minute drive from the northern coasts. It can also easily be accessed by bus.