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Old 19th December 2019, 17:55   #1
Tgo
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Default The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

There are travels which you plan well in advance and some which are planned in the nick of time. We were on one such trip to Ayodhya, back in February 2019, a meticulously planned one. We had to attend a friend's wedding and could not miss the opportunity to visit the controversial holy grounds. It was winter time and covering the whole 650 kms to and fro on a Sunday would have meant a touch and go at Ayodhya. We decided to break the journey in Lucknow and had booked an OYO on Shaheed Path (which is Lucknow's ring road).

The plan was to -
  • Leave on Saturday after work, break at Lucknow for the night. (190 km)
  • Begin on Sunday to to reach Ayodhya by 11:00 AM. (150 km)
  • Roam around till 4:00 PM.
  • Attend the wedding and leave for Lucknow by 10:00 PM. (150 km)
  • Start early morning on Monday to punch in at office time. (190 km)
On the early morning drive to Ayodhya from Lucknow one cannot miss the sign indicating the way to Parijat Tree. Once spotted, it is hard to undermine the tree’s significance. Road signs usually do not direct you to trees. With some spare time at our disposal we could not miss the opportunity to have a look.

  • It is said that flowers from the Parijat tree were brought by Narad from heaven and were presented to Krishna. Krishna gave these flowers to Rukmini, much to the anguish of Satyabhama who thought she was Krishna’s favourite (wife). Out of jealousy, she demanded Krishna to bring the tree itself to be planted near her house.

  • Some believe that Arjun brought the tree from heaven for his mother Kunti, who offered its flowers to Lord Shiva.

  • Another fable describes the tree to have grown from Kunti’s ashes.
The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia-poppy-plantation.jpg
Poppy plantations along the rural roads on the detour.

The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia-poppy-flower.jpg
Poppy flowers.

The 20 km detour to Kintoor from the Lucknow-Faizabad highway, takes you over rural roads lined with Poppy plantations to reach the fabled tree. It is the only tree in the district of Barabanki which is protected by the order of the district magistrate. Being more than 1000 years old, the adjoining temple, a bearded old Pujari sitting next to it and the prayer flags lining the way to the entrance of the compound give it an idyllic setting for the fables it is known for.

The sacred Baobab tree (Adansonia digitate) has been known for ages for its medicinal value, as a food producer, and the superstitions it has been engulfed in. Tribes in Africa greatly value the tree which grows in Sub-Saharan climate; even today. How then, is it growing here in India? To begin, it hasn’t been documented anywhere else in India, which intensifies the mystery. For now, it is safe to believe that it might have been brought here by an ancient traveler upon his return from Africa.

The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia-parijat-tree.jpg
The Tree as it stands today. (February 2019)

Brought in as a seed or a sapling, intentionally or otherwise, the tree is a sight to behold. The trunk has a girth of more than 10 meters at its widest. Though not as imposing as the Banyans in the Botanical Garden of Kolkata, the tree looks majestic in its own unique way. Some nodes and features on the trunk resemble human faces when viewed at certain angles. Its branches spread out wide but are still close to the ground and within reach. It is said to flower rarely with beautiful and fragrant white flowers. The leaves in the lower part of the canopy grow in groups of five resembling a human hand (hence the word digitate) and the ones higher up in groups of seven. The fact that the tree does not fruit and its cuttings have not given rise to another sapling in all these years lends the tree a sage-like character. The logical explanation of its existence keeps slipping out of one’s mind while admiring the tree.


A time-lapse parikrama.

As visitors, we could only try to capture its solitude in pictures. Our foraging for some fallen dried leaves and twigs to keep as souvenirs got noticed by the old Pujari. He called my wife and handed her some fallen dried flowers from the tree which we could not have reached for on our own. Before leaving we made our wishes under the Kalpvriksha (wish tree) that it is also considered by many, due to its resemblance to the Parijat tree of the fables.

Coming back to the impromptu nature of the visit. My wife and I reflect how it became the highlight of our trip to Ayodhya. The original destination turned out to be a big let-down, sparing the peaceful boat ride on the Sarayu.

The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia-map.jpg
Google Maps Plus Code: 2F3J+9P Baraulia, Uttar Pradesh (copy and paste full code which is underlined)

For people planning to visit; here are a few tips.
  • Factor in 1.5 hrs for the visit. (off and back on NH 27 - Lucknow-Faizabad highway)
  • Exclude Tuesdays if you want to visit in peace.
  • Fill your stomachs and empty your bladders before taking the detour.
  • The Pujaris looks stern but are just waiting to make a few bucks in exchange for some leaves / twigs / flowers.
  • Ask for directions in the last 1.5 km rather than relying on navigation apps.
  • There is a large field outside the compound for parking.
  • Beware of monkeys. Don't carry food / packets / flashy items.

Fun fact I stumbled upon today: The river close to the tree in the map is the same Ghaghara river which we crossed in march this year during our trip to Katarniyagjat Wildlife Sanctuary. The same river flows by Ayodhya and is called The Sarayu.

Last edited by Tgo : 20th December 2019 at 12:17. Reason: Added video. Added travel plan, tips, map
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Old 20th December 2019, 11:53   #2
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree - Rant

The good and bad of the sacredness in our culture.

For the life of me, I cannot remember traveling in India to a place or crossing places which do not have a sacred structure. They are everywhere. From the protected national forests to along the highways and railroad tracks that weave through our country. Sometimes they seem to encroach on the natural habitat, putting strain on the infrastructure of our cities or becoming topics of debate and hatred. However there are times when they serve a purpose in addition to that of their primary existence.
  • In the national parks, resident Pujaris provide vital info to forest officials about movement of animals.
  • In remote places, the foot tracks of pilgrims provide access and help guide outdoor lovers to the interiors of a jungle and back.
  • In instances like the Baobab tree mentioned here, the net of mythical significance provides protection to some rarities and help in preserving them for generations.
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Old 20th December 2019, 13:02   #3
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Default re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Mod note: Thread moved to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 20th December 2019, 18:56   #4
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Default re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Such a beautiful enterprising travelogue.

The lucidity with which you have put forth your views is quite impressive.
However, the story woven here about the Baobab tree being the only one in India is a bit far-fetched.
There are 2 other Baobab trees in Hyderabad precincts itself.
One near the Qutub Shahi tombs and the other near to the 500 year old Sri RanganadhaSwamy temple(near Wipro Junction) which has most probably been cut down now due to the massive software park coming up.

http://desitraveler.com/hatiyan-jhad...ab-tree-india/

https://karnatakatravel.blogspot.com...hyderabad.html

http://desitraveler.com/the-baobab-t...age-hyderabad/

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
In instances like the Baobab tree mentioned here, the net of mythical significance provides protection to some rarities and help in preserving them for generations.[/list]
This statement is so true.
Had this tree also had a Parijat like myth associated, it wouldn’t have been cut down!

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Last edited by HsekarK : 20th December 2019 at 19:07.
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Old 21st December 2019, 11:03   #5
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Thanks for the kudos. I had tried to make it very crisp since it written for a magazine article with a word limit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HsekarK View Post
However, the story woven here about the Baobab tree being the only one in India is a bit far-fetched.
Wow! If only I could have come across the links while penning this down. I could have made it more informative. Great to know of all the other trees like this in India.

These trees do stand out specially when they have no leaves.

I've heard of people with vested interests in construction projects, secretly injecting chemicals into the surrounding soil to kill some really old trees. Giving it a look of natural death.
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Old 21st December 2019, 14:45   #6
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
These trees do stand out specially when they have no leaves.
..in construction projects .. to kill some really old trees. Giving it a look of natural death.
In the pic I attached above the tree seems to be covered in construction dust making it look like the white tree of Minas Tirith!

At the cost of going OT, from experience I could tell you that many such portrayed tree deaths do occur.
For example :-
A pay-loader ‘accidentally’ bumps into a really old tree in the middle of the night. Strangely that tree happens to be bang in the middle of a proposed lane to a under construction high-rise.

Now the trouble of environmental clearance from Van Vibhag is no longer necessary.

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Old 21st December 2019, 14:57   #7
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Boabab trees are found in quite a few numbers inside the SEEPZ campus in suburban Mumbai. A true sight to behold along with a ruins of an old church. Again how these trees came to be here in Mumbai is a mystery
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Old 21st December 2019, 23:32   #8
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

There is one baobab tree in Mhow cantt, I have personally seen it, sorry no photos though.
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Old 23rd December 2019, 14:01   #9
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tgo View Post
.... How then, is it growing here in India? To begin, it hasn’t been documented anywhere else in India, which intensifies the mystery. For now, it is safe to believe that it might have been brought here by an ancient traveler upon his return from Africa.
From ancient times, right up to the late Mughal period (say 250 yrs ago) India had extensive trade relations with Africa. So it is not completely unexpected to see a few of these trees around, given their long life.

Recently I was in this place named Mandu in MP (2 hrs due SW from Indore) where one will find dozens of these tree. It is well known that the local rulers brought people from Africa to work for them (so did several other rulers of medieval South Asia) and it would not be unusual for these sub-Saharan natives to bring the fruit/seeds of the Baobab - a bit of home for them I guess. I heard the locals call the fruit 'Imli'!

It is well known that a lot of now commonly found flora in India are medieval or colonial imports, some of the most famous ones being - potato, tomato, gulmohar, rain trees (Mumbai municipality's favourite).
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Old 23rd December 2019, 14:14   #10
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Great travelogue. Never knew this place.

Baobab trees are also found at Mandu, Madhyapradesh, where their produce is sold as imli.
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Old 23rd December 2019, 14:32   #11
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Default Re: The Fabled Parijat Tree @ Vill, Baraulia

Quote:
Originally Posted by subuiyer View Post
Recently I was in this place named Mandu in MP (2 hrs due SW from Indore) where one will find dozens of these tree.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ani_meher View Post
also found at Mandu, Madhyapradesh, where their produce is sold as imli.
As I get to know of more places where these trees are found, the reasoning behind their existence in our country becomes more credible. Thanks for sharing
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