BENGALURU: A 500-year-old sacred grove of mango trees that was raised during the Sri Krishnadevaraya period in the world heritage site of Hampi, Ballari district, has been discovered. Presently, this grove situated amidst the famous Hampi ruins, has already lost three trees while a few more on the banks of Tungabhadra River are in the process of falling.
Behind the world-famous Virupaksha Temple of 7th century, lies this sacred grove comprising 21 massive and rare varieties of old mango trees. According to horticulture experts, the trees may have been planted between 300 and 500 years ago.
As per old records, this mango grove was exclusively raised for monkeys to contain their menace. Therefore, it was called as ‘Kothimanya’ (exclusive habitat of monkeys). Even the fruits borne by these trees are a bit less sweet while each tree even today, has an yield of one tonne per year. Further, each tree is 80-100 feet tall with 13-15 feet trunk size and a girth of 12-13 feet.
Retired Professor Devarakonda Reddy of Hampi University, who came to know about the existence of such a sacred grove in an age-old record, informed A N Yellappa Reddy, Chairman, Bangalore Environment Trust, Horticulture Department. The trust members visited the area and inspected the spot along with the Virupaksha Temple executive officer and horticulture officials.
In view of the historicity and its genetic value, the trust has appealed to the state government to declare this entire area as a sacred heritage site and also wrote to the Development Commissioner, Religious Endowment Department, for its protection and conservation.
Speaking to Express, Yellappa Reddy said, “I have written to the state government to notify the entire area and declare it as a sacred heritage site.”He added, “This area was established in 1536 by the then ruler Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijaynagar dynasty. With a few trees on the banks of the river being subjected to soil erosion, they may fall any day. A retaining wall has to be built on a priority basis which could be done with the help of MNREGA funds. This should be a joint effort of both the endowment and horticulture departments.”
G Parmeswara, assistant director, Horticulture Department, Munirabad, said, “The existence of such a grove has come to our notice only now. There are 12-13 trees of Vijyanagar era in an area of 2-3 acres while the rest are 80-100 years old. But it needs lot of protection if we have to save the ones on the river banks where the roots have gone deep.”
Since the heritage trees need to be studied in detail, it will be sent for scientific analysis to the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany in Lucknow to know about the rainfall pattern, temperature, drought, production and other aspects prevailing during those days. To know the age and genealogy of these rare trees, samples will be sent to GKVK, Bengaluru, and CCMB, Hyderabad.
Reddy added, “All this information can be displayed in the mango grove once it is declared as a heritage site. We need to know, how and when these trees were planted or was it a natural manifestation. With the Western Ghats home to 1,000s of varieties of mango and the fruits and seeds falling in the rivers, providing food to aquatic life as also being transported to various regions, the trees may have germinated naturally here. However, the study and analysis of these trees will throw up a lot of interesting and useful information while the seeds themselves can be planted by the Horticulture Department in other places of the state.”
Turning the pages of history
The mango grove was raised in 1536 by the then ruler Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijaynagar dynasty
It was exclusively raised for monkeys to contain their menace
There are 12-13 trees of Viyanagar era in an area of 2-3 acres while the rest are 80-100 year old
Each tree is 80-100 feet tall with 13-15 feet trunk size and a girth of 12-13 feet