Sir Seewoosagur Ramgooolam Botanical Gardens

The gates are from Crystal Palace in London and are open each day from 8.30 am 5.30pm, entry is free. The best time to see the gardens is between December and April. It is a big place so you will need time and a decent map. You can hire a guide in the gardens but make sure you negotiate a fee and the duration of your tour before you start. There are few flowers in the gardens; it is not a horticultural display. Having said that one of the main features is the giant Victoria regia water lily native to the Amazon region.

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The flowers at the centre of the huge trays open white one day and close red the next. Other star attractions include the decorative golden bamboo and the vast variety of palms, which come, in all shapes and sizes. Some of the more prominent are the talpot palms, which flower once after 40 to 60 years and then die, the stubby bottle palms and the tall royal pals lining Poivre Ave as well as the raffia, sugar, toddy, fever, fan and even sex palms.

Beside the more conventional mahogany, ebony and fig trees, you will see the marmalade box tree, the chewing-gum tree, the fish poison tree and the sausage tree. There is the 200-years-old Buddha tree and the crosstree, with leaves shaped like a cross. The gardens also play the roles of wildlife sanctuary, cemetery and art gallery. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, the first Prime Minister of Mauritiusafter independence was cremated on a concrete block outside the chateau. His ashes were scattered on the Ganges. An enclosure with Java deer is near a pen of giant Albadra tortoises.

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