Big Champa Tree
(Of the many champak tree's in our residential layout in Bangalore, somehow the tree just in front of our house is in full bloom. The milk distributing boy, joggers of the early morning and the summer holidaying small boys and girls assemble very early in the morning to collect some flowers from our tree climbing expert - the newspaper wallah. Religiously he takes everyday these flowers to his factory and the temple with great devotion.. Sometimes he counts more than 300 of them and says it will flower for another 10 days.
Then we remembered a particular age-old tree we had seen 5 years back- The 1000 year old Dodda Sampige tree (Big Champa tree) in Biligiri forest hills ! And over the next week end we were off to
see it - once again )
In the thick of the Biligiri Hill ranges, which is home to the Soliga tribals, there stands a mammoth champa tree or the Dodda Sampige Mara, reported to be around 1000-1500 years old. The sheer size of the tree trunk leaves one wonderstruck. Two of the trunks have fallen between our last visit and now and they lay near by. We have been seeing the champa tree flowering now in and around Bangalore and Mysore. But this champa tree, did not bear any flowers. A merry stream with very sweat and cool water runs by close to this tree and the total silence that can be experienced here makes it a singularly beautiful experience for nature lovers. (The Soligas believe that on encountering wild animals like the tiger for instance, they need just pray to this tree and the tiger slinks away. )
We were accompanied by two soliga boys (Keta and Raju) who had a wealth of information
on the forest tree species -flora,fauna, its smell, taste, use in food & medicine and even seasonal changes.
The Dodda Sampige Mara and the sorrounding attracts birds of all kinds, for we saw the Paradise fly catcher, Emerald dove, whistling thrush, Citrine wag tail and some of the raptors fishing eagle, Crested hawk and serpant eagle to name a few. The cicada flying insects are found all over the tree and the humming sound that they make reminds us of a well synchronised orchestra.
Alltogether it was an ardous trek of 20 kms, that too in this scorching summer, was worth every bit of it.
Apr 20, 2008
Requesting the equivalent in English,
Michelia champaca (Fam: Magnoliaceae)
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