The Indian forest of 19,000 square meters formed by a single tree

Observing a satellite image of an area of ​​the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, to the east of the Kadiri forest reserve, we will see what looks like a large forest. Certainly its size, compared to that of the nearby houses, is considerable, but in reality such a wooded mass is made up of a single and unique tree.

This is the one known as Thimmamma Marrimanu, quite a celebrity in India, where this type of tree called banyans or banyan trees (ficus benghalensis) are very important in the religious aspect.

So much so that it is considered the national tree of the country. The roots are associated with Brahma, the trunk with Vishnu, and the leaves with Siva. People tie bows to its branches and place votive figurines in the hollows of its roots.

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Banyans, which also include other species, are trees that develop in an unconventional way, from the top down. Initially, the seeds germinate in the cracks of the bark of another tree, but also in walls or walls of buildings, and they grow until the aerial roots form a pseudo-trunk that ends up engulfing the host tree or destroying the wall.

Its branches spread horizontally and create new aerial roots, which due to the weight end up touching the ground and forming additional trunks. There are many banyans in the Indian subcontinent that reach considerable dimensions, such as the Thimmamma Marrimanu or the Great Banyan Tree of the Botanical Garden of Calcutta (today officially Kolkata), whose crown has a circumference of 330 meters.

The extension of the treetop or canopy of the Thimmamma Marrimanu covers an incredible area of ​​19,107 square meters (0.019 square kilometers), which is why it seems to constitute a true forest and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest tree specimen in the world. world.

Under the branches of the tree there is a temple dedicated to Thimmamma, who according to legend would have immolated herself on the spot when her husband died in 1434. It is believed that the tree grew right in the place where the funeral pyre was raised, from one of her trunks. In such a case his age would be around 550 years.

Local tradition states that childless couples who come to the temple will conceive at the end of the year, making it an especially crowded place, but also that a curse will fall on those who cut its leaves.

Pilgrims are especially numerous, especially during the Maha Shivaratri festival (the great night of Siva) which is celebrated on the night of the thirteenth day of the Phalguna month (between February and March) of the Hindu calendar. That night under the Thimmamma Marrimanu a great jatara (night vigil accompanied by music and dances) attended by thousands of people. The locals affirm that up to 20,000 people can gather under the treetop.

The Thimmamma Marrimanu is still growing and expanding, favored by being located in an environment of agricultural fields with little competition from trees around it. Which is why it has reached such an impressive extension, with some 4,000 roots-trunks that twist up and down in all directions.


Sources

Anantapur/Mother Nature Network/GoRoadTrip/Smithsonian/Wikipedia.