You may think it is a forest but if you see it up close you will be surprised.
From the outside, ‘The Great Banyan Tree’ looks like a small forest. This is because the roots of these trees extend and descend towards the ground, creating a maze of branches that look like a collection of trees instead of just one.
If you were to see the Great Banyan Tree in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden from a distance, it is easy to mistake it for a forest. At over 14,493 square meters, the tree is the widest in the world , so large that it covers more ground than the average Wal-Mart.
No one is sure of the exact age of the Great Banyan Tree due to the lack of official records, but experts estimate the tree to be at least 250 years old ; The first references to the tree have been found in travel writings dating back to the 19th century.
Over the years, the tree has been through a lot. Not only has it survived 2 major cyclones in 1864 and 1867, but its main trunk was also infected with a deadly fungus. This infection meant that the main trunk of the tree needed to be removed in 1925.
Taking care of this massive tree is so complicated that it takes a 13-member team. Not only do they ensure that the tree stays healthy, but they also “train” the roots to grow properly.
“We make a bamboo canal and put fertilizers in them. Then we direct the tender supporting roots into the bamboo channel placed at an angle so that it can support the upper branch. Soon the supporting roots grow and adhere to the ground, supporting the branch, ”explains MU Sharief, joint director of the Botanical Survey of India.
In Indian culture, banyan trees are among the most revered trees. It is considered a sacred tree in various religions; For example, in Hinduism, it symbolizes longevity and represents the divine creator, Brahma. Banyan trees are also important in Buddhism because Buddha is believed to have sat under one for 7 days after achieving enlightenment.
Want to see ‘The Great Banyan Tree’ for yourself? The Botanical Gardens are easily accessible by car or bus from Kolkata city center. The best time to visit is between September and March; By then, the scorching heat of summer should have subsided. In addition to ‘The Great Banyan Tree’ , you can also see a wide variety of exotic plants from around the world, making it an amazing trip if you can take it, obviously when travel is allowed again.
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