Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mysore Banyan Trees

Some Banyan Trees of Mysore

The above widget will take you to the album containing pictures I have taken of many trees in and around Mysore.

Do take a look - click on it.

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The Banyan Tree is always an interesting one to look at or be with it, for its prop roots, esp. if the tree is very old, notwithstanding the ghost stories we heard as kids. Its shady canopy is of course not to be fortotten.

Not for nothing it is the National Tree of India!

(Spelled "Banian", it gives a different meaning to us in India. It is referred to the vest men wear, usually of cotton or cotton knitwear! Of course, "Mysore Banians" are also famous!)

(Image from the Net). Banians with sleeves are also popular. Tiruppur city is renown to manufacture these.

Back to the Banyan Tree.

When we were young, it was fun to ask others to tell (in kannada) "aalada marada keLage santhey" while covering the nostrils. It means "Shandy below the Banyan tree". But when uttered with nostrils closed, the 'santhey' would sound 'satthey' meaning 'I died'. The sentence would then mean "I died below the Banyan Tree."!! Then there would be some laughter following this little joke.

Kids can do a 'Tarzan' holding the prop roots that hang down freely. In parks they are natural playthings! On the one on Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road here, as a young boy, I have done that with those prop roots each time we passed by it, because most of us used to go on foot to places that were 'walkable distance'. So we children could play as we went along with family members. This spot was an attraction actually, because the side of the pavement sloped down to the low compound and the gap facilitated the swing and we could land back on the pavement with the oscillation. At times we jumped off the vertical stone near the pavement, holding the root and getting the needed momentum for the oscillation. The root had to be thin and 'holdable' for the smallish hands.

This is the tree as it is today. Those roots on the right have thickened in almost four decades.

Find out what a Banyan Tree is in this link and its medicinal value.

Dodda Alada Mara or the Big Banyan Tree is near Bangalore (Ramohalli).

A few miles east of Lalith Mahal on Bannur Road (Alanahalli) there is one huge Banyan Tree that the villaefolk worship. I happened to pass by it in 2003, on my way to Hosahalli, to the house of the man, Yajman Honnaiah, who used to sell that seasonal 'soppina kallekai' (chickpea) at our doorstep. Here is the tree:

The most famous Great Banyan Tree in our country for its history and spread, is at Kolkata. I had seen a picture of it in "Glimpes of India" published by C.B.Burrows, Bombay, in 1895, a wonderful compilation by J.H.Furneaux and wondered if I could see it when I grew up. The time came by chance, in 1999 but at that time, I had no camera. But here is the picture from that old book in my library. I had been curious how vast it spanned. But when we went near it, it was not much, because I learnt that the tree had been damaged by a severe storm in the 1950s and hence had thinned down. But it had withstood the great cyclone in 1864. I saw many delicate and precarious branches artificially supported as a protective measure. I must reveal that it was this Tree which attracted me to the Botanical Gardens there in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on our way back from Durgapur. A like-minded friend (Ram Sharma) had accompanied me.

Let's see what we have in some places of Mysore.

The widget seen above contains many pictures I recently took, of trees which I have been passing under almost all my life. But never counted them until today! There was no reason of course, to do that then.

During the fruiting season the entire road under them would be 'carpeted' with fallen fruit, sticking to our soles as we trod on them. Walking on roads was not a risky thing, say 35 years back: hardly any traffic! This is what I recollected when I wanted to take pictures and retraced my old steps. In the bargain, I could also locate some younger trees starting to send out their famous prop roots. I hope they all will survive the urbanization (and road widening) that is progressing at a rapid pace!

Kukkarahalli Lake premises has some beautiful trees and the nearby Baden Powell school has the big one and a small one. You can see quite a pictures of their prop roots also in the widget above. There are a few also at the Maharaja's College Grounds, the Manuvana Parks and some on Jhansi Lakshmi Bai Road (now "Jayelbee road"!).

I was shocked to see a couple of branches of a huge banyan near Lakshmipuram Police Station, being cut some years back. But I was relieved that only those two branches which had drooped dangerously low only were cut. This is that tree (on JLB Road).

This inspired me.
Links in it are also handy.

Now on facebook as well.

Let Banyans hang around!


wineye said...

Beautifully written!! you make a person fall in love with these trees...

wish there could be something worked out around these lovely good old trees as GVK sir suggests.

GVK said...

This would be a valued addition to Mysore Banyans facebook page, if you could cross-post the photos/text there.

ER Ramachandran said...

Great collection of pictures Dino with lovely prose! Probably one day the Mysore Banyans can be an inspiration for' Mysore Banyan walks' or a roundup of the trees on wheels - which should be on Bicycles. Thank you.

Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Great write up Dinu. Again brought back memories of growing up with these large Banyans around Mysore, sometimes swinging from those hanging roots and always taking them for granted, that they would always be there! A historical research on the age of some of these Banyans in Mysore would probably reveal a bit more information that can be used for Banyan tours. I agree with you, let the Banyans hang around and let them flourish as well.


Great write up Dinu
Dr Harshad Raval MD [Homeopathy]
Honorary consultant homeopathy physician to his Excellency Govern.of Gujarat India.
Qualified MD consultant homeopath Physician,
25 years experience in Homeopathy field
Member of nominee advisory committee (Govt. of Gujarat).
International Homeopathy Advisor,
Book writer and Columnist For Gujarat Samachar,

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