Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Karnataka less travelled- II, 400 years old tree

There are heritage buildings and monuments. Do you know there are heritage trees as well? I didn’t know until I saw this tree in Banavasi. Pilale tree as they call it in kannada local language, is a sprawling  tree spread across more than 2 acres of land amidst the paddy fields stands. It's botanical name is Ficus microcarpa.Standing there from the last 4 centuries, this tree is an abode for several birds and variety of flowers.

Pilale tree from the paddy fields
This Mahavriksha (Mammoth tree) as they call it in the village, is located 7-8 kms away from Banavasi in the village Jade in Shimoga district of Karnataka. It is located in the border of Uttar Kannada and Shimoga districts. We need to walk across the paddy fields for 10 minutes from the main road to reach the tree. 
Branches and branches
 Its branches are too many to count, cutting across each other to form a complicated structure, difficult to explain using my geometrical sensibility. We have a word parampara in Sanskrit meaning coming one after the other without any break. Similarly, these branches are  earth facing. To use a similes it has created a forest with one tree.
Bushy tree
It doesn’t look like a big tree from outside. It looks more of a bush. Off shoots of the branches have multiplied giving the shape of an epic bush to the Mahavriksha.  It is still growing horizontally beyond 2 acres. I was told that the Government is talking to farmers to take up the land around the tree to protect the heritage  tree.
Growing tree
 It was a hot sunny day. Carrying Viha and walking in the field was exhausting. Farmers working in the field asked ‘are you going to see the temple?’  I simply nodded. Brahma Kumar our guide who always was very enthusiastic to show us new places  explained that there is a temple within the  forest tree and villagers consider tree belongs to god. He was from Vanavasika guest house.
When we reached this massive tree we experienced  a sudden change from the hot sun to cool breeze inside this tree forest.

 I wanted to take a walk along the circumference of the tree which apparently takes 30 minutes to cover. As we started walking appreciating the tree, a man with a loud music in his phone enters and walks along with us. He says this land belongs to him. Somehow I was not comfortable to go deep inside the epic tree area with this unknown man. Being a solo traveler, I never go against my hunches. He offered to show temple of a local deity located at one end of the tree. But I thanked him and came out of the canopy. I didn’t want to take risk with kiddo around.
Recently, this tree has been declared as one of the Heritage trees by the Government of Karnataka  under the Bio diversity act of 2002. There are 10 heritage trees in Karnataka. Some are as old as 600-800 years. To protect these  age old trees and pass it on to  next generations is the reason behind calling them as heritage trees. These trees are breathing life from centuries. They have all rights to live for long as long as they can!  I was told Karnataka is the first state to take such an  initiative in the entire country.

Have you ever come across any such granny tree ?I would love to hear.

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  1. Girija, this reminds me of Pi's exploration of the tree where he ate and slept in the lost island in between ocean in the movie Life of Pi

  2. Thanks for reminding me that scene fro Life of Pi Shivakumar :-) Thanks for stopping by