The big banyan tree and silk worms
So… so our quest to find the tribal settlement where they make their traditional jewelry ended without much success. And the time was only around noon. What now? Bala came up with a solution… let’s go take a look at Innovative Film City. And there we headed right away.
Innovative Film City is a combined movie shooting and entertainment facility. Located about 25 miles from Bangalore, it has a facade built up in the style of Roman monuments. Though the place boasts of many attractions, everything except for the Mirror Maze and Ripley’s Believe It or Not were total disappointments.
Now what? Time on our hands… And true to form Bala came up with the suggestion… Dodda Alada Mara! And we set out in that direction immediately.
Dodda alada mara is a huge banyan tree, located in the town of Ramohalli, 17 miles from Bangalore. It is the fourth largest banyan tree in the whole of India.
Banyan trees (scientific name: Ficus benghalensis) are a variety of fig trees that sprout aerial roots. When these roots touch the ground, they take on the role of supporting the tree and start growing in girth. Slowly, they begin to resemble a tree trunk and soon one will not be able to tell them apart from the main trunk. Thus the tree spreads across vast areas as if walking across the area.
According to Wikipedia, the Ramohalli banyan covers an area of three acres and is 400 years old. It has more than a thousand aerial roots, with the circumference at the crown reaching close to a thousand feet.
By the way, banyan is the national tree of the Republic of India.
The tree is teeming with whole families of monkeys, always on the prowl for any food stuff that can be snatched from unwary hands. Curiously, they seem to have developed a taste for soda pop!
On the way back from the dodda alada mara, we saw an interesting sight. Huge frames made of bamboo and palm leaves are set on the sides of the road. The frames hold concentric circles with what looks like fluffy white oval shaped cotton balls in them. These are about an inch long and half as much wide.
Looking closely, I realise that these cotton balls are cocoons of the silk worms.
And sure enough, there are other frames nearby which have silk worms crawling along the circles on the frame.
We tried speaking to the person tending to the frames, but he couldn’t understand English. Some others nearby came to our help. I was mainly curious about how the cocoons are processed further. However, we were told that they are not processed locally, but sold to silk makers by the weight in the nearby market.
What impressed me throughout this trip was how friendly people are. I am always wary of taking photos without asking permission first, but was so happy to see that people had no problems with being photographed. I still remember clearly the incident where one of my friends was yelled at by a homeless person near Columbus Circle over just the suspicion of a photograph being taken!