Did you know the world’s largest banyan tree is located in India?

Sprawling across an area of 3.5 acres, the 250-year-old Great Banyan near Kolkata is one of the most remarkable trees on Earth.

Great banyan
The Great Banyan, the world’s largest banyan tree, is located in a botanical garden near Kolkata. Image: Shutterstock/Sukrit.K.

There’s something about the banyan trees that makes me want to slow down and stare for a bit longer. May be it is the gorgeous gnarly roots and the gigantic figure that makes them look like wise, old creatures. Or may be it is the drama and glory that they add to a scenery. Or may be the legends and myths that surround them. Whatever reason you’d like to pick, it’s hard to not be intrigued by their charm.

Banyans are one of the 750 varieties of fig (Ficus benghalensis), and are India’s national tree for all the right reasons. They are omnipresent across the country and can be found in both forests and urban settings. Counted among the world’s largest trees, they sure make their presence obvious with their aerial prop roots flaring out wide and far. If you wish to experience the true grandeur of this magical fig, you don’t have to travel far from home.

The largest banyan tree in the world
The tree continues to survive without its main trunk, thanks to its aerial prop roots! Image: Shutterstock/Rudra Narayan Mitra.

The Great Banayan, located in The Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden in Howrah near Kolkata, is the largest tree in the world. The entire garden thrives under this single tree that spans 3.5 acres and is over 80 feet tall, making it one the most breathtaking natural marvels across the world. It was included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tree with the largest canopy, covering the widest span of area in 1989. Till date, it continues to hold on to the title.

The 250-year-old Great Banyan has survived two major cyclones in 1864 and 1867. Its main trunk, which used to be 51 feet wide, gradually decayed and had to be removed in 1925, but the tree continued to thrive and expand, thanks to the thousands of aerial prop roots growing out of its branches and into the ground, making it look like a ‘forest grove’ of banyans!

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