We, at Mysore, tend to take for granted our heritage. A long-time Mysore resident, and a tree-lover, told me the other day that he had driven past the Baden Powell Public School near Crawford Hall so many times, for so long, that it had never occurred to him to stop by for a closer look at the great banyan sprawl that covers a fair chunk of the school ground.
The mightiest among the tree species Banyan spreads out its green cover, with drop-roots mushrooming in ever widening radius around it main trunk. Because of drop-roots the banyan has propensity to survive even if its trunk gets weakened. The Adyar banyan at the Theosophical Society in Chennai had its trunk uprooted in gale in 1989. Horticulture experts and engineers moved in with a crane to rehab the stricken tree. Surviving on the strength of its drop roots Adyar Banyan continues to attract thousands of sight-seers. It is said to be the second biggest in the country, next to the one in Kalkota. In contrast to Adyar, the banyan in Mysore, which can rank among the top ten in India goes widely unnoticed. A local tree lover, Mr K R Kumar, speaks of another banyan on the Mysore University campus at Manasagangotri.
Mr Kumar, who has written extensively on trees, could share his thoughts on the banyans of Mysore. I wish the school authorities, in consultation with the forest department, put up a board, containing a brief account of the school yard banyan’s known history and vital statistics such as its age, the spread, trunk width and tonnage, for the benefit of interested visitors.A scout master at the school said the tree could be over 150 years, adding that the head of the school management knew a lot more about its history. With inputs from him and other knowledgeable persons we could compile a folk account – anecdotes, customs and rituals (some banyans are worshipped) connected with the tree – of the Banyans of Mysore, as material for eco-tourism promotion.
Schools all over the city could organize students visit to the banyan at Baden Powell school. They could be encouraged to hold annual on-the-spot painting contest under the tree, on the banyan theme. Friends Of Roadside Trees or some other organization could sponsor such contest.
On my part, I propose to send these pictures for inclusion in Kelly Martin’s web gallery that has over 50 images of celebrated banyans of Kolkota, Goa, and from the US, Mexico and Vietnam.