Kolkata’s Great Banyan

The Great Banyan tree is over 250 years old, and its date of birth is doubtful. There is no clear history of the tree as to the time of planting etc. but it is mentioned in many travel books of the nineteenth century as a very spectacular element.

It survived two great cyclones in 1864 and 1867, when some of its main branches were broken. With its large number of aerial roots, which grow from the branches and run vertically to the ground and looks like it has so many trunks, The Great Banyan looks more like a forest than an individual tree.

The tree survives without its main trunk, which decayed and had to be removed in 1925. A monument has been erected to the dead trunk, but is hardly accessible to visitors, who only have access to the perimeter of the tree. The area occupied by the tree is about 18,918 square metres (about 1.89 hectares or 4.67 acres).

The present crown of the tree has a circumference of 486 m. and the highest branch rises to 24.5 m; it has at present 3772 aerial roots reaching down to the ground as a prop root. Its height is almost equivalent to the Gateway of India.

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