Saturday, March 13, 2010

“Now Break this!!” Search for Sikkim’s heritage trees continues….

Ever since the search for Heritage Trees started in Sikkim, I was very curios to be part of this competition. I still remember when the first preliminary results was published in one of the local dailies of Gangtok, the headline of the report read like “Can this record be broken”. More than two months later I seem to have the reply. 

The search for the biggest tree of Sikkim was an exciting journey for me and my adventure gave me an opportunity to be in the wilds that I had never gone beyond still being a botany student. I have always believed that the land of Sikkim have many amazing ‘things’ to be discovered. It is debatable about the origin of the land forms of Sikkim. I still remember one of my lecturers at Sikkim Government College laughing at me when I asked him about the possibility of fossils in Sikkim. His answered Sikkim is a young fold mountain and there is no possibility of any fossils in both plants and animals. But yet I have collected a petrified fossil with an imprint of maize like leaf from the woods of Singtam. 

I visited Rhenock and measured the circumference of 9 trees, of which three trees of Pani Saaz (two) and Kaijal gave a measurement of amazing 52 feet, 50 feet and 49 feet respectively in circumference.  Before that I had in my mind that the preliminary results of the survey by the department had found a Juniper species with the girth of circumference 42 feet. Most of these trees said to more than couple of years old are found along the holy places where people worshipped them.  The two trees of Pani Saaz with the circumferences of 50’s were found at Shihabahini Mandir in Rungdung (Chalisay) Busty. Those trees were among the five huge trees found in that area. All belonged to Pani Saaz, the roots of these trees are scattered around the small woods with different cracks visible on cemented footpaths. Devi Charan Acharya and Rewat, the members of the committee that looks after the Shihabahini Mandir told that the roots of these trees are even lifting the mandir from underneath. Out there four trees of Pani saaz varieties were found with circumferences of 52 feet, 50 feet, 26 feet and 25 feet. The location of these trees and its surroundings are such that it can be developed into a tourist destination in days to come.

Another tree with an amazing 49 feet circumference lies little below the Rhenock bazaar at “Devithan”, the tree of Kaijal that had an attachment of foreign body in “Bar” measures around 49 feet in girth. I am sure there are many such huge trees lying in different corners of the state and it are just the matter of fact when it gets identified. In my adventurous journey, I was helped by Ganesh Pradhan and his son Deepen Pradhan of the famous Ram–Gauri Sangralaya, Rhenock. Ganesh Pradhan in his own words added, such heritage trees are the gift of nature to the mankind and we need to preserve it. The movement started by the State Government to identify and preserve such trees is really of high praise.