Nainital: Soon as one enters the mall road in Nainital, he encounters a huge Afgani Chinar tree (Avenue Tree) followed by several other Chinar trees planted along the mall road. In 1890 British brought saplings from Jammu and Kashmir and planted them in hills of the Uttarakhand and Himanchal Pradesh.
Changing Colours Of Chinar
Loaded with broad green leaves after denuding in Autumn, the beauty of the tree attracts everyone. The chinar trees can be seen in Sukhatal and Rajbhawan area, too. Albeit the number of old Afgani chinars is low, new plantations have been done by the forest department. Earlier the trees were felled for making quality furniture. Thanks God for blanket ban on felling of this species now.
Onset of summer has made the sun moderate, brought a mild heat into the air and covered most trees, including the mighty Chinar (Maple). The majestic Chinar trees (whose botanical name is Platanus orientalis or oriental plane) grow as tall as 25 meters, with girth exceeding 50 feet in some area. Its leaves acquire varied colourful hues - of blood-red, mauve, amber and yellow - in a short period of time, somewhere around October end, and remain that way till the end of November. In Srinagar Chinar-gazers assemble under the tree in villages, towns and the capital city of Srinagar to gaze in awe at the changing hues and swirling leaves, which are burnt to keep the traditional Kangri (earthen fire-pot) alive when snowfall takes over the landscape.
Jammu and Kashmir houses the world's largest and oldest Chinar tree which is 700-years-old, claims a book written by renowned nature writer MS Wadoo. The circumference of the tree is 31.85 metres and its height is 14.78 metres. It is located at Chattergram in Budgam district of Kashmir. The book, The Trees of Our Heritage, deals with the research work done in the fields of forestry, plantation and environment, especially trees like Chinar and Devdar. In his research work, Wadoo identified the tree at the garden of Sufi Saint Syed Qasim Shah in Chattergam.
The tree was planted in 1374 by Syed Qasim Sahib who accompanied Mir Syed Ali Hamadani from Hamadan, Iran, to Kashmir, claims the book.
Originally, the Chinar tree was found only in Greece. With the passage of time, however, it reached Asia where the most conducive place for it to grow was the western Himalayan region of India.
Dismissing the notion that Chinar trees were brought into the state by the Mughals, Wadoo said there were several mentions in the historical accounts about the tree's existence in the state. Akbar Nama, Mughal emperor Akbar's memoir, mentions one such instance when the thirty four royal guards took shelter inside the trunk of a Chinar tree. With a strict ban on their being cut, the Chinar not only dots graveyards and Mughal gardens but colleges and universities, too. Highways and homes host mighty Chinars, which in turn host the migratory birds that come all the way from Siberia and Russia.