Jan 7, 2009

Dodda Alada Mara ~ Big Banyan Tree, Ramohalli

Dodda Alada Mara’ is one of the convenient weekend picnic destinations for Bangaloreans. I’ve visited several times over the years. The very first time, it was a family trip. We had come in our Ambassador and spent a full day under the tree. When I was studying PUC II, we rode our bicycles, a 23 km ride, I cannot recall the entire group but Ramesh P was one.

The tree, located on the outskirts of Ramohalli village, is spread over three acres with the main stem almost in the center. Plenty of monkeys live on this tree, may be close to a hundred, troubling the picnickers- snatching food stuff. Sometime between 1998 and 2000, majority of the monkeys died after eating poisoned bananas fed by some nasty visitors, probably to take revenge. The monkeys were buried in a mass grave nearby and a small tomb (nothing fancy) is built over it.

During one of the visits with Anish, Anil, Kotesh, Satish and Sunil, we had a good time. We went about 2kms beyond the tree, chose a calm spot and settled down in the cool shade of a Honge tree. We had few beers and munched snacks as we chatted away for a couple of hours. All the while, we saw a sleeping dog few feet away and started to wonder what kind of a dog would it be to sleeping fo… we realized it was dead!

We came back to Aaladamara, had lunch, snacks again. This time walked below the tree. With beer inside, Anish was trying to scare monkeys but they would always come back. One of us got an idea to play football. We had a small plastic ball (empty ice-cream ball), two o the root marked the goal posts and we came up with one-to-one free-kick competition, best of five kicks. The competition was fierce and the match lasted more than an hour. It was less interesting as the effect of beer came down but we enjoyed it. I cannot remember who won the championship.

The sun was coming down and we noticed a bump on the western horizon which happened to be Savandurga. That’s when I said “I’ll climb that hill one day.” That’s the day my affair with Savandurga began.

Big Banyan tree is a popular spot for movie makers. If you want to get a glimpse of the tree 40 years back, watch this lively number from SholayYeh dosti, hum nahi thodenge, thodenge... One full minute of the number is shot under the tree.

The other two big Banyan trees are near Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh and the other one in Calcutta. There could be many more such trees undiscovered in our wonderful land, INDIA.


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