Sunday, May 16, 2010

One of the Oldest living Banyan tree - Kabirvad

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye
Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye - A Doha by Saint Kabir

English Translation-
I searched for the corrupt man, met not a single one,
Then searched myself, "I" found the corrupt one

    En route from Surat to Vadodra, about 80 kms from Surat, 16 kms from Bharuch and a km ahead of Shuklatirth, a small signpost guides you to a very interesting and historical island called Kabir Vad. Situated on the banks of the holy river Narmada, it is a religious and a picnic spot. Dedicated to the famed Indian poet-saint Kabir, it is full of Vad trees (Banyan trees) - hence the name, Kabir Vad. A remarkable fact is that all of these have originated from a single trunk. Having visited his birthplace, Lahartara in Varanasi, I was eager to know more about this place too.

[ A Doha by Saint Kabir ]

    To reach there one has to take a boat (Rs. 35/person, to and fro) which plies every 20-30 minutes. As soon as I stepped on to the boat, memories of the boat ride on the Ganges in Varanasi came rushing back to me. However this time the sun was beating down and the boat was full of people. But I enjoyed it nevertheless.

[ Boat that took me to Kabir Vad ]

[ View of the  Narmada River and the picturesque bank from the boat ]

    It takes about 15 minutes for the boat to reach the other side of the river, after which one has to walk a distance of about one km to reach the place. Along the way, a number of shacks selling a variety of items like sugarcane juice, sweet corn, biscuits, etc keep one company.

[ Shacks lining up the Narmada bank ]

[ Sweet corn boiled in the waters of River Narmada ]

[ Entrance to Kabir Vad ]

    Finally I reached the actual spot - Kabir Vad. Spread in an area of approximately one km, it’s probably the only place within India to boast of such a vast expanse of banyan trees - all having originated from a single trunk. The main trunk’s aerial roots over the years grew laterally into thick woody trunks and have now become completely indistinguishable from the main trunk. The mother tree is believed to be over 600 years old.

[ Scenic views of Kabir Vad ]

The view was simply amazing and all I could see was branches spread out far and wide, aerial roots, monkeys playing on them and thousands of bats hanging upside down (try spotting them in the pictures).

    As with most of ancient places, several stories do the rounds here. According to one very interesting story, once Saint Kabir had planted a Datun (twig used as a toothbrush in ancient times) here. The same twig took the form of a huge Vad tree (mother trunk) which later gave rise to the adjoining ones. Another story goes that Saint Kabir had meditated under the Banyan tree during one of his pilgrimage trips. That tree never aged and subsequently multiplied in number.

    Maintained by the Gujarat Forest Dept., the place is not overtly clean but, I guess, that is what you come to expect of the Indian authorities. But then the blame also lies with the tourists who do not think twice before littering the place.

[ Lotus shaped marble temple dedicated to Saint Kabir ]

[ Idol of Saint Kabir in the Temple ]

    There is a small museum in the premises which gives a bit of insight of this astonishing place. There is also a beautiful lotus shaped temple which houses an idol of the great saint Kabir Das. Ironically, he was strictly against any form of idol worship (read more of him here) and today, man has built a temple even in his name!!!


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23 comments:

  1. what a beautiful temple and lovely pics arti...really felt like visiting those places...

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  2. What a beautiful place. I so love trees, there is just something so old, so tranquil, so peaceful about them. And that sweetcorn looks yummy, so fresh.

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  3. Beautiful boat ride and walk -- thank you for sharing it as well as the history of this sacred place. The Banyan trees are both mysterious and beautiful. There are a few of them here in Ft. Myers Florida at what was the home of Thos Edison (electricity) -- he spent winters here and his estate has many exotic plants and trees boutght or given to him. I will pay more attention to how he acquired them next time we go there. (The Estate is open to the public.)

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  4. What a fabulous place - those trees are magical, like living statues.

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  5. What a fascinating place this must be! Thanks so much for allowing us to visit it with you.

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  6. That tree is quite formidable...oh, the tales that it could tell!

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  7. Marvelous post!


    Namaste & Aloha from Hawaii


    Comfort Spiral

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  8. SO great to be taken on this journey - one day, i'll go visit India too. It's such a faszinating country - the colours, the history, the spirituality ... will come visit again!

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  9. Just downright amazing. Thank you.

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  10. Never been to Surat. Heard a lot about it. Thanks for sharing the pictures

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  11. This is an interesting post. I think I saw bats in the tree!

    Thanks for visiting!

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  12. Thank you for the excursion. It was very interesting. The tree story is amazing.

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  13. Thank you for the tour. It was nice to visit this place and see it through your eyes.

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  14. Hi Arti, many thanks for your visit on my photo. Congrats for your blog,it's very interesting and beautiful !

    Cri

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  15. Your blog is cool. To gain more visitors to your blog submit your posts at indli.com

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  16. I adore Kabir which makes this post all the more sweet. I'm sure his spirit won't mind that statues and temples have built in his honor. He understood human frailty like few others.

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  17. Amazing photos, so exotic. Love the bats! I have always had a fascination with bats.

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  18. Arti, i would have missed this lovely post on the oldest banyan tree, that too situated on an island. Thanks for bring it alive.

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  19. Love that verse about the corrupt one!

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  20. This tree is marvelous. - like all your photos..:)

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  21. Like the opening quote from Kabir and enjoyed seeing the photos of this holy place. The irony of temple to Kabir!

    http://inspirindia.blogspot.com

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  22. Very good naration about Banyan Tree. I am
    doing a research on Temple trees of Tamil Nadu.
    Of which Banyan tree one among.This information is useful to quot.Thanks.

    Pl. go through my blog nbranaikatti.blogspot.com
    and offer yr. suggestion.

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