Sacred Trees of Western India: Mumbai’s Green Ambassadors

Y.D. Bar-Ness travels through India marveling at its natural landscapes. The beautiful trees, or “green ambassadors,” as Bar-Ness refers to them, become referential markers to his memories of India.  Read this article and learn about these natural Indian landmarks!

Rain Tree
At the Prince of Wales Museum roundabout in the center of Colaba, an enormous rain tree sprawls out over the street. This tree is a visitor from the tropics of South America.

New perspectives. Architectural marvels. Meeting new people.Visiting family. Tasting new cuisines. Temple pilgrimages. Historical explorations. Experiencing adventures and exhilaration.

All of these are great reasons for travel in the vast and varied landscapes of India. But these different pathways — no matter how satisfying — can sometimes leave the quiet soul wishing for a more direct contact with the natural world.

For me, chasing trees has provided not only a structure to adventures throughout India, but also provided a window into the landscapes, wildlife, forests, and rocks of the country. No other country in the world is so well endowed with sacred, notable, giant, historical, and remarkable trees.

Refugees and Visitors

From the giant Banyan of the Kolkata Botanical Garden, to the tenacious little pipal growing on the side of Delhi’s Qtub Minar, I’d encourage you to seek out these green ambassadors. You can spot them in this article by the asterisk *.

Many of them are refugees from the forest that used to cover India, and many of them are visitors from exotic locales of the world.

Mumbai, the vibrant city with its feet in the ocean, is fortunate in many ways — not only its energy as one of the world’s largest and busiest cities, but also in its proximity to wild mountains, beaches, and forests. Let’s fuse our human sensitivities of culture and history with the enthusiasm of the rockhound and the serenity of the wilderness eco-tourist.

Let’s start at the Gateway of India, and take the long way into the Sahyadri Range, over to Pune, along the backside of the mountains to Nashik, and over into the green lowlands of Gujarat. Let’s get our feet wet in the waters of the Holy Narmada River, and then let’s hop on the trains back down the coast into the metropolis again.

Along the way, I’ll point out some of the remarkable trees that can serve as landmarks and destinations, and if you can, you’ll remember these trees and keep your eyes open for them. And while we’re at it, let’s both try to learn something about the natural environment of India and the Earth.

Sacred Trees of Western India: Mumbai’s Green Ambassadors