We have been here before. A recent meeting with Vinay of Royal Mysore Walks threw up some ideas on getting the grand old Mysore banyan on tourist map. It is now on Facebook - Mysore Banyans
The banyan on the Baden Powell schoolyard has been so much a part of our landscape that most of us in Mysore pass by the green sprawl without pausing for look-see. Other towns brag about their banyans,hailing them as a living heritage.
In Chennai they have made a legend of the Adyar banyan. This, and the one in Kolkata are widely known among tourists. They are written about in tourism literature, in blogs and dedicated websites; profiled in wikipedia. How many of us in Mysore know or care to find out about our schoolyard banyan, its guesstimated age, the size of its spread ? Do you know the grand old banyan has 823 drop-roots ? I don't either; merely it made up to make my point.
Looking at this tangle, can you figure out a way to count them. Your guess is as good as mine.What matters is the legend,the story we build up on the banyan.Do we have one?
An earlier post in FORT-Mysore blog evoked a comment from a long-time resident and senior journalist Gouri Satya. He recalled his schooldays spent under the Baden Powell banyan - "the ideal spot for us, scouts of the Ramblers' Scout Group to learn roping and earn a badge". His school, named after the founder of the Scouts & Guides movement, houses its district headquarters.
Mr Satya suggested the schoolyard banyan be named after Baden Powell. He noted that Jayachamaraja Wadiyar was a boy scout, and had gifted the land on which the school and the scouts & guides office building has come up.Camps,jamboree and training of the boys and girls for the Vijaya Dasami procession have been held for generations on this banyan grounds. Mr Satya recalled an occasion when they had a group of boy scouts abroad camping under the banyan.
Another old student, now a company executive, Shankar Prasad associates the grand old banyan with his schooldays cricket and training for NCC parades. We could put together banyan reminiscences of the likes of Satya and Prasad in their school alumni.
Of the many banyans found in and around Mysore the one at the Baden Powell schoolyard is centrally located - next to Crawford Hall; across the street from the Deputy Commissioner's office. How do we put the banyan on Mysore tourism map ?1) Get the municipal authorities to put up a green signpost - Baden Powell Banyan - on Hunsur Rd and JLB Road. And at Kukkrahalli gate close to Nanjangud rail-track.
2) Spread the word among online friends about Mysore Banyans facebook page. Input from informed Mysore residents would help collect resource and reference material on the banyans - there are two on the Baden Powell schoolyard.
3) Scouts & Guides at training camps can be encouraged to explore the schoolyard banyans.
4) The banyan can be a topic for class-room project of local schools, a subject for students painting competition.
5)Royal Mysore Walks can develop a banyans walk.