Ancient banyan at Jyotisar to get a new lease of life

  • Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times, Karnal
  • Updated: Nov 30, 2014 20:04 IST

After years of neglect, the ancient sacred banyan tree at Jyotisar, believed to be the birthplace of Bhagavad Gita in the holy city of Kurukshetra, is all set get a new lease of life.

A team of experts from Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute (FRI) will visit Jyotisar in a fortnight to launch restoration programme for the tree.

FRI plant pathologist NSK Harsh told HT on telephone from Dehradun on Sunday that it would be more important to sensitise various stakeholders of the tree that is associated with a strong religious belief before initiating the restoration work.

“Owing to certain academic and official reasons, our visit is delayed by almost a month. I along with other scientists would visit Jyotisar within a fortnight,” said Harsh, who earlier restored the Mahabodhi tree at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, which is associated with Lord Buddha.

Located 10 km from the district headquarters of Kurukshetra on the Pehowa road, Jyotisar is believed to be the spot where Lord Krishna delivered the sermon of Bhagavad Gita to Arjun in the Mahabharata period. It is rated as the most visited site in the holy city of Kurukshetra.

FRI officials, who have prepared broad outlines of the restoration project, suggest that they have approval from the Kurukshetra Development Board (KDB) to pursue the work. Led by the Haryana governor, the KDB looks after places of pilgrimage in the 48-km radius of Kurukshetra and Jyotisar is its part.

The board had commissioned the Dehradun institute to study the health of the sacred tree and suggest remedies. However, due to litigation over the pilgrimage site between the KDB and Jyotisar village panchayat, the restoration programme was on hold.

Experts have clarified that the preliminary investigations suggested that the ancient tree was not dying but suffocating due to unscientific methods being adopted for beautification.

They blame emphasis on superficial beautification and poor landscape planning for the deteriorating health of the holy banyan. The marble platform around the tree is doing the most harm.

FRI scientists said marble platform had hampered water-absorption capacity of the tree. Besides, prop roots, which grow from the branches to the ground and give the tree extra support, have no space to expand because of the marble structure.

“The tree would get a new energy, if the marble platform is punctured scientifically to allow more air and water to its roots. Once the work begins, more options could be explored,” the scientist added.

Prop roots should be allowed to touch the ground for the natural growth of the banyan tree, for which deep holes may be made with protection grills around.

Experts may offer more suggestions to ensure good health of the tree. Low-cost biological greenhouse emerges as new hope for farmers.

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