Monday, November 9, 2009

Revisiting Mysore schoolyard banyan

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.


YOSEE said...

Am so glad you put up this post about the beloved old Banyan which has not been getting even half the attention that The Adyar Banyan and the "Big Banyan"outside Bengaluru.
I never pass by it without a look-see becoz. of fond memories of school functions attended under its shade. Yeah, lets Fame it ! ( Kam-se-Kam, a feature in Star Of Mysore ?)

GVK said...

Wonder if you have seen 'Mysore Banyans' facebook page. Would appreciate an account of memories that the schoolyard banyan evokes. Also any photos on Mysore banyans.

ER Ramachandran said...

This reminds one of the famous Banyan tree in kolkotha.It was known to people who had never even been to calcutta.The botanical Gardens had nurtured it for decades and it was one of the 'musts' for tourist along with Belur mutt and chourangy and New Market.It can be converted in to a great tourist attraction if information is collected as to how the tree came about and 'survived' the develpment plans of Mysore Corporation for so many years!

YOSEE said...

I am not facebooked so havn't seen the page you've mentioned.As for memories, well, nothing earthshaking happened around it, but the tree used to be a great pivot point for childish games whenever the school took us there for drills,interschool games or art competitions. Its sheer size was a wonder one never tired of. And we used to believe in schoolgirl stories of ghosts residing in that tree. The old, unpainted circular building did look pretty eerie !

Vinay said...

Banyans have always attracted people's attention. I'm sure if the stories around Mysore Banyans are collected.. it would definitely be a interesting stop.

Anonymous said...

The information here is great. I will invite my friends here.