This is a short blog post, the purpose of which is to highlight the divine beauty of one of the most ancient banyan trees in India:- The Dodda Alada Mara. It’s name is derived from 3 Kannada words: Dodda which means Big, Alada which means Banyan and Mara which means tree. Hence, Dodda Alada Mara literally translates into “Big Banyan Tree”.
It is believed to be the 4th largest banyan tree in the world and proudly spreads its roots over a vast expanse of 3 acres! Located in the Kethohalli village, towards the outskirts of Bangalore city, the Big Banyan Tree is a favourable location for tourists and is a highly recommended location for nature photographers!
And here we begin…
It was a bright sunny afternoon on the 2nd of September 2018, when my parents and I set out on our jaunt towards The Big Banyan Tree. The weather seemed perfect and there was no sign of rain. The Big Banyan Tree, popularly known in the state of Karnataka as “Dodda Alada Mara” is a 400 year old Ficus Benghalensis (Botanical name for Banyan Tree).
The Dodda Alada Mara is situated around 23 kilometers from my current residential location (Vijayanagar). It is precisely located in the Kethohalli village in the Hobli district of Karnataka, which is approximately 28 kilometers from the urban city of Bangalore and 8 kilometers from the Bangalore-Mysore National Highway. It’s central location has caused it to become a popular picnic spot for visitors traveling to and from the cities of Bangalore and Mysore.
In my opinion, the shortest and most hassle-free route to reach this location would be via Nice road and Bangalore-Mysore expressway.
An alternate route would be would be to take the road towards Kommagatta lake via Kengeri main road.
However, the latter would take a comparatively longer time and I personally wouldn’t recommend it.
The road through which we drove had trees looming over us on either side, touching and forming a canopy and hence shielding us from the bright afternoon sun. Soon, the number of trees narrowed down and opened up into large open fields and organic nurseries, adorned with colourful flowers and plants of different varieties and sizes. If you are fond of plants and happen to own a terrace garden at home, then it would be a wonderful option to buy exotic plants from organic nurseries such as these to add on to your collection!
I had earlier pictured the place to be open and isolated. However, upon reaching our destination, I noticed that the entire area was enclosed within a mesh fence and appeared to be more of a large park with benches on either side of the walkway. It certainly seemed to be more populated than I had mentally imagined. Nevertheless, it was absolutely beautiful!
The entrance consisted of an arch with its name: Dodda Alada Mara written in Kannada.
Upon entering the park, we noticed a giant green board with the description of the tree, its origin and other extraordinary information which left us all awestruck.
According to the sources, the main trunk of the tree had been affected by a natural disease several years ago, hence causing its roots to spread out and grow separately. This gives the appearance of many individual trees but in fact, it is just one tree spreading out it’s enormous branches in every possible direction! Fascinating isn’t it!?
We proceeded through the park and clicked a string of photographs to capture the beauty of this ancient tree. The primary trunk was humongous and was located in the centre. We noticed it’s branches spreading out in different directions. Huge bins filled with manure were positioned in almost every possible corner of the park. The purpose of these compost-filled bins were to provide adequate nutrition to the several growing branches, which once entered the bin, continued to grow down into the ground and magically transform into roots!
There were several monkeys jumping around and playing in the trees. It was an inspiring sight to watch how intelligent these creatures actually were.
I stopped for a while to watch them play and even happened to record a video of one clever monkey carefully climbing down from a high branch with the utmost expertise!
Clink on the link to watch the monkey doing acrobatics:-
As we made our way further through the park, we noticed that one huge branch had completely fallen, hence blocking our path.
We then took a quick diversion and spotted a semicircular seating area in the centre. This clearing was shady, cool and comfortable. We found a handful of people and a family relaxing and enjoying a happy picnic.
We also spotted a temple on the opposite side of the semicircular seating. However, it was still under construction due to which we were restrained from entering it.
We then relaxed for a while and soon made our way out. And that was the end of our short trip…
The Dodda Alada Mara is certainly a unique place which displays a wonderful spectacle of nature and is definitely worth visiting! There aren’t many shops outside the park. However, you can easily spot a number of street vendors selling coconut water right outside the entrance. It would indeed be perfect to spend an evening settling down under the shade of the Big Banyan Tree, relaxing with a bunch of friends and enjoying some fresh coconut water!