Common Names: Banyan tree, Indian Fig tree
Scientific Names: Ficus benghalensis
Local Names: Barghad ka darakht, bohr, barh
Origin: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh
These ancient banyan trees have been granted to us in all bountiful ways by nature. This is nearly a perfect test of our being in the right temper of mind and way of life so that anyone who loves trees enough, would know about them in their full glory.
I am talking about these banyan trees of old Clifton in fondness which transforms the continuance of physical spacetime into moments.
I recently came to know about this unique wonder of nature while scrolling down some posts from a Facebook group. The name of the group is In Defence Of Trees. It is Almas Mehmood who first shared these photos entitling old faithful banyan trees of Clifton and then I decided that it’s an ideal time for me to document these marvelous living miracle of nature.
Where these Banyan trees are located?
1. For this, you have to visit Karachi. You can easily locate these Banyan trees at Shahrah-e-Iran road in old Clifton Karachi, Pakistan.
2. It is an area of the city that was developed in the 19th century. It was those days when Henry Bartle Frere was appointed chief commissioner of Sindh. In 1850, he took advantage of the opportunities granted to him of further developing the city.
“It was said that he even pensioned off the dispossessed amirs, improved the harbour at Karachi, where he also established municipal buildings, a museum and barracks, instituted fairs, multiplied roads, canals and schools.”
The banyan trees were planted in abundance along the roadsides initially to please the Hindu community at that time because of their religious affiliation with these trees.
It was the time of great mutiny.
What is special about these Banyan Trees?
3. It all happened when Karachi’s Natural Heritage Association decided to take a visionary step due to some concerned reasons.
They intentionally, marked and preserved about 68 banyan trees in the old Clifton area only. Here’s the proof.
Thankfully, I found these additional photos via Twitter while browsing about them.
03 Phase field work : Natural Heritage Association of Karachi (NHAK) and @SindhGovt1 : all banyan trees marked with digital numbering system / measurements / bilingual details. #savethebanyantreeproject #karachi #naturalheritage #preservation pic.twitter.com/PJTzr5hLiR— Marvi Mazhar (@marvimazhar) February 25, 2020
4. City authorities have declared all banyan trees as protected heritage in order to prevent them from being mercilessly chopped off. Source
There I found out that they even rehabilitated an old banyan tree.
If you do get a chance to visit Shara e Iran /Old Clifton. See @GovOfSindh work with #NHAK on documenting each tree with allocated number system and developing edges for its better growth. May children take photos under the shade of #banyantree always @murtazawahab1 @GovOfSindh pic.twitter.com/GWDBsEm3Uk— Marvi Mazhar (@marvimazhar) October 15, 2020
Furthermore, the provincial environment department has started preserving 68 old Banyan trees to protect them from vandalism. Source.
This is a great initiative by the government of Sindh of saving heritage trees from immediate extinction. And in this way giving more power to old trees so that they can thrive in full bloom.
Thank @murtazawahab1 @DCSouthKarachi @Shallwani @irshadsodhar @GovOfSindh for visualising and rehabilitating footpaths and making walkable. And developing edges for these trees versus concrete choking pavements on natural habitat #heritage #banyantree #envionment #climatechange pic.twitter.com/w0NM879FEX— Marvi Mazhar (@marvimazhar) October 15, 2020
5. Don’t you think it’s an amazing fact that some of these trees are believed to be 100 years old or more?
But unfortunately, now these trees are facing the threat of becoming extinct. The reasons are so many to consider: Some think that this is due to the skyrocketing developmental projects in the area. And some cleverly put all the blame on the negligence of the local community.
The detailed analysis of these ancient banyan trees of Karachi
Now here comes the fun part and my favorite activity of documenting trees.
At first, if you glance closely at this tree it seems as they have branches almost everywhere. The branches are unusually long and they have a power to grow and spread at great distances.
It’s unfortunate to see this tree in such drastic conditions. Banyans are native to and thrive best in India and Pakistan. These days, variations of the majestic trees can be found almost everywhere in the world.
The best way to care for them is to give them plenty of space and warm, wet, humid weather. It seems that this tree is already enjoying the view but the debris around this tree is worrisome.
This tree has shed an ample amount of green leaves. Why so? They usually shed their leaves in a dormant/ off season when the temperature of the area dramatically drops.
The banyan is a decidous evergreen tree and it doesn’t shed all it’s leaves at the same time.
The term deciduous means it will shed its leaves annually. Evergreen in the sense that the leaves will remain vibrant green even in winter season unlike other autumn trees.
I think when the picture was taken, it might be the autumn season or the end of the winter season as it is partly covered with leaves.
They will regrow their green leaves when the weather warms up. Banyan trees usually shed their leaves in the dry season to retain the moisture.
It is planted near a building, driveway or a street. It can be easily identified by its aerial roots.
Wow, simply wow! This picture is best to determine at which time of the day it is photographed.
The shadow casts by these trees depend on many factors such as the time of day, location, a particular season, and shape of the trees.
If the sun is to the north of the tree then the shadow will cast on the opposite side of the tree that is to the south.
One of the most attractive aspects of any tree is the shadow it casts. Seeing the shadow its casting say eternity. The hot summer day. Birds are loving the shade. It is 12 o clock when the sun is accurately above the trees.
I can be wrong.
It should be noted that the longest shadows occur at the sun rise and sunset. It is hard to determine the time of the day at that angle. But my guess is that it must be noon or afternoon time when the picture has been taken.
I can see a crow nearby. Can you? Here it should be mentioned that some native birds like crow and common myna dispersed the seeds of banyan trees. They are abundantly found near those trees which have a dense canopy.
This trees along the road indicates that they are really in bad postures. The concrete pavement has limited the spread of these trees and they have leaned themselves towards one side because of lack of support.
The main trunk of this tree is not visible as the aerial roots have grown around the trunk.
Older banyan trees are characterized by aerial prop roots that mature into thick, woody trunks, which can become indistinguishable from the primary trunk with age.
This tree is not laterally spreading over a wide area. The roots have been damaged due to debris and stones.
Ficus benghalensis produces propagating roots which grow downwards as aerial roots. Once these roots reach the ground they grow into woody trunks.
If this tree is given ideal conditions it can easily develop lateral branches and can spread to large distances. This is my favourite banyan tree so far. The tree has already uprooted the pavement. The debris of the fallen leaves has increased the fertility of the soil. It is damp and moist.
The fruits and seeds produced by these tree are eaten by birds such as common myna and crows as they can been seen around.
Rumour has it that the fig seeds which pass through the digestive system of these birds are more likely to germinate and sprout earlier.
This is a classic example of the strangler fig. The main trunk is somewhere lost in that twirling pattern.
Can you see the prop up roots? Can you locate the common myna nearby?
The hanging branches has decided to curl up around the tree. Sadly some branches have been cut down so that they can’t reach the ground.
My heart is bleeding for that tree. The concrete pavement is restricting the growth.
Pictures 5 and 6 are of the same tree.
My blind guess.
Now this tree is like a mini forest of its kind. The banyan tree is right among the largest living trees in the world by canopy coverage. My observation says this tree is the same as in picture 1 but here the picture is taken from the front angle instead of being photographed from the sides.
I am ending this article here because initially my attention is not to write a lengthy post. These are entirely my views, so can be wrong and inaccurate. Thank you for reading, though. Do comment please!