By Shravan Regret Iyer
Bengaluru: The Baobab tree avenues of Madagascar are famous. The forests of the island nation, which receives hardly any rain and is bone dry for nearly 10 months a year, are populated with these strange, bulging trees, which store water in their fat trunks.
But you don’t need to go as far as Madagascar to see these giant trees as they are also found in a small town of Karnataka. Travel about 370 km from the gleaming glass and concrete of Bengaluru and you see three giant Baobab trees in the grounds of the Doddahunase math in Savanur taluk of Haveri district.
While the popular myth is that they were planted here by Lord Krishna himself, many believe the Siddi tribals, who migrated from Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania in Africa to the Indian subcontinent and particularly Karnataka, brought the Baobab seeds with them. But there is no real evidence to prove the origin of these trees, which locals believe are over 5,000 years old.
Forming a triangle in the grounds of the Math, the trees have been fenced by the state government for their protection. The board displayed before them tells you one tree has a girth of 15.7m and is 15.5 m tall, another has a girth of 12.92 m and is 16.4 m tall and the last, has a girth of 12.62m and is 15.7 m tall.
The trees, which appear to have adapted to local climatic conditions, shed leaves only during the rainy season. Their fruit is consumed by the locals for its medicinal properties as it reportedly has ten times the vitamin C found in oranges and other citrus fruits. It is used to prevent and treat heart diseases as it supposedly acts as a natural liver cleanser and helps weight loss.
This story was originally published in Deccan Chronicle May 22, 2016, edition.