A two-member team from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, visited Takht Sri Damdama Sahib on Thursday to examine two historical trees and suggest ways for further preservation. The banyan trees are reported to have been standing at the same spot since the 17th century.
The team of Dr Gurjit Singh and Dr Karamdeep Singh took samples from the tree.
"We have examined the two banyan trees on the Damdama Sahib premises. The trees are said to be standing before the 10th Sikh Guru's visit here in the first decade of the 17th century," said Dr Gurjit Singh.
"It seems that the grain and water offered by the devotees to the trees is proving harmful. Marble floor and termite is also not good for the trees. We will work on ways to extend their life," he added.
Private university claims credit
Even as the PAU experts said that their visit was official and had nothing to do with any private university, Guru Kashi University, Talwandi Sabo, a private university, issued a press release:
"A team of experts from Guru Kashi University and PAU visited Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, where they were offered a 'Siropa' by the managing committee. The team comprised NS Malhi, vice-chancellor, Satish Goswami, registrar, and BS Chahal, senior horticulturist from GKU and Dr Gurjit Singh and Dr Karamdeep Singh from PAU."
The release adds: "The team concluded that the water and grains being offered by the devotees was damaging the trees. Some insects were also harming the trees. The team got the grains removed and treated the plants. The team appeals to the devotees not to offer water and grains to these 'Jandiyan' so as to ensure their long life."
Dr Gurjit Singh from PAU said: "GKU officials are not attached with us. They must be doing separate research."
Damdama Sahib manager Jaspal Singh said: "Experts from the GKU, Talwandi Sabo, did visit to examine trees." He claimed that he was not aware of any historical importance of the two trees.