Feb 24, 2018

Baobab tree on Balachandruni Guttalu, Nalgonda

December 24, 2017
Though we left home early morning by 5-30, we reached Nalgonda around 9-30 or so. Thanks to bad navigating, we took a wrong turn and traveled through interior roads. Half way through we saw an amazing standing rock some kilometers before a town called Chandur, Unfortunately, we could not find a decent eatery and we were famished when we entered Nalgonda. So, priority was breakfast. We found a roadside eatery, it was crowded. I prefer cart food when traveling because food would be fresh and hot. After few minutes of waiting we got our plates of hot dosa, vada and idli. We were happy with the quality and quantity too.. tummy full :)

On my list of places to see were 1. Baobab tree at Shiva temple on Balachandruni hill, 2. Nalgonda fort, 3. Chaya Someshwara Devalaya at Panagal and 4. an ancient domed structure near a Christian school. Nalgonda fort hill was a long climb and it was too warm already, so it was struck off the list. We headed towards Panagal, about 4 kilometers away. Then we navigated the narrow streets of old Nalgonda and reached the southern base of the hill where the path to Durga temple and Shiva temple starts. As I looked for a spot to park, I thought of trying the dirt road which goes up the hill. So we drove out towards and around the hill and reached the hill's western slope and took the dirt track. Barely 60 meters away, the track got steeper and rough. Not willing to take any risk in this remote location, I backed off. Our destination was just a kilometer away, we could've walked. But leaving a car unguarded was not a good idea.. disappointing attempt. So we headed back to the southern slope and parked at a safe point.

The steps were rough and quite steep too. We were climbing after a long time, was breathless in few minutes. However, we climbed as always.. pause of few seconds, walk for a while, pause, walk. The path gradually flattened and lot of trees too. No other people on the hill. Durga temple came into sight but the Shiva temple was not visible. We checked Wikimapia and got the location.. about 100 meters away.

We followed  a smaller path which sloped up and lo the upper branches of the Baobab came into view. Happy we found it. There it is.. the beautiful tree from Africa living in India.

The temple gates were locked. We looked for a gap in the wall, found none. I shouted if anyone was around. A middle aged lady with matted hair emerged from the building and let us in. I knew the tree had a hollow chamber in its branch. Aren't Baobabs amazing?

Baobab branches are unique.. thick bases and slender ends. Usually this time of the year they wear a barren look.

That's the temple caretaker. She opened up the tree shrine for us.

An idol of a Swami. So an ascetic lived here earlier, I guess the Paduke (wooden slippers) belonged to the Swami. The chamber's diameter is about 6' and 10' high. At the top was a small opening, like a ventilator.

Sunlight pouring in through the ventilator seen through the false ceiling. Thanks to the screen which cuts down the heat in here.

The passage as seen from inside. Pushpa and Bhuvana could manage to get in and out easily, for me it was a bit of a struggle. The sides of the passage exposed the fibrous wood.. Baobab wood is soft, doubt if it is used to make furniture or agricultural tools.

A naturally damaged branch trying to heal.

Folds in the skin just like elephant skin. Because of this similarity, Baobabs are called as Hathiyan in Hyderbad. Baobabs bear a large podded fruit which tastes like tamarind. In North Karnataka Baobab is called Devva Hunase Mara ~ Ghost Tamarind Tree.

Pushpa and Bhuvana rested in the temple while I went around the tree and temple.

At nights, this tree will have a eerie look.

Its trunk is a tapering tower.. like Qutb Minar, isn't it?

In the background upper half of this hill which is mostly rocky and at the summit is Latif Saheb Dargah.

Time to leave, we had to reach Nagarjuan Sagar and check into the resort by 4pm. We say bye to the temple caretaker. Next to the temple path is this man made tank. Unfortunately, its wall breached and the water drained out eroding dirt in its path. I guess the same water flowed down the dirt track and rendered the path useless for cars. Had there been water, we might have seen lot of birds.

One last look at Nalgonda's Baobab. Long live the magnificent tree!

Here is a list of known Baobab trees of India-
  1. Hilltop Nightclub, Vagator, Goa
  2. Cabo Raj Bhavan, Dona Paula, Goa
  3. Quepem, Goa
  4. Bamboo Motels, Goa
  5. next to Yogapur mosque, Bijapur
  6. near Ibrahim Roza, Bijapur, Karnataka (may have dried out)
  7. Dodda Hunashe Matha, Savanur, Karnataka
  8. Purana Qilla, Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, Telangana
  9. Attapur, Hyderabad
  10. Vansthalipuram, Hyderabad, Telangana
  11. near Chappel Road, Hyderabad, Telangana
  12. Ranganath temple at Nanakramguda, Hyderabad, Telangana
  13. Uppal in Chengicherla Reserve Forests, Hyderabad, Telangana
  14. Nellore, Andhrapradesh
  15. Theosophist Society Gardens, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  16. The American College campus, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
  17. Chinmaya Vidyalaya's campus at Ilanthope, Rajapalayam, Tamil Nadu
  18. Mangaliawas near Ajmer, Rajasthan
  19. Vadodara, Gujarat
  20. Dayapur, Gujarat
  21. Kutch, Gujarat
  22. Bhanagar, Gujarat
  23. Baroda, Gujarat
  24. near Gujarat College / Victoria Garden / Sukharamnagar, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
  25. Mulund, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  26. Byculla zoo, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  27. Outside the Vasai fort, Maharashtra
  28. Tilak road and Ghole road, Pune, Maharastra
  29. near Aurangabad, Maharashtra
  30. Mandavgad or Mandu, Madhya Pradesh
  31. near Sangam, left bank of the Ganga, Prayag, Uttar Pradesh 
  32. Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Bihar


Nikhil said...

Good find!
Curious, so you had this tree already on your list? You had known of it from someone/somewhere - how? :) And, if I did not miss, this tree itself you have not listed in your list of Baobab trees. For the ones you have listed in Gujarat, I will try to reach out to friends there to know of their location and status, or seek them when I visit Gujarat. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Even in Hyderbad one of the Baobab tree is hallow. Locals narrate a story that 40 thieves were hidden once in that tree.

siddeshwar said...

@ Nikhil - thank you. discovered this tree few years ago while exploring Nalagonda on Wikimapia. A like minded person had added a picture of this tree :) would be great if your friends can locate the trees in Gujarat. These are the ones I could find online, I'm sure there are many more, especially in Maharastra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

@ Mr. Incognito - your comment evoked a correction to the list. now Hathiyan of Golconda is added to the list. thank you.

Umesh Rattihalli said...

Every time I am seeing your discoveries and enjoying the same it is very happy to see the tourist places which your posting in blogger. Thanks for the same. Some time it is not possible us to see the places which your posting in your blogger, By seeing the photos and history of the places we are enjoying the same, Once again Thanks for the same.
It is Dooda Hunsimara in Savanur of haveri District of Karnataka not Devva Hunase Mara ~ Ghost Tamarind Tree. Please correct the same in your note
Umesh Rattihalli