Old Baobab Tree & Rangnath Temple Nanakramguda Hyderabad
Before Chandra Babu Naidu said “ Let there be Investments in IT”, Nanakramguda was a sleepy village with its only claim to fame being 400-year-old Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple. Today it is difficult to find from the main road as it is surrounded by glass faced IT parks. But my reason for visiting Nanankramguda village was not to visit the temple, though I did click some pictures from outside of the temple. No, I am not an atheist; I will tell you why I did not enter the temple later in the post.
I have read about this huge Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) also called boab, boaboa, tabaldi, bottle tree, upside-down tree, monkey bread tree, and Haati Jhaad, in Nanakramguda village. I always use to slow down my car when passing from the village road to locate it but was unsuccessful.
So today when I was coming back from airport highway I decided to take a detour and enter the village, I parked my car next to an under construction building and look around. Multiple cricket matches were being played in the open grounds, and in one corner next to the white building, stood the majestic Baobab Tree with its magnificent trunk, wounded by the careless dumping of construction material next to it. There are thousands of IT professionals in the area and I am pretty sure a lot of them are involved in CSR initiatives of their companies, but most of them would have never heard of this magnificent tree.
Now you may wonder why I am writing about a tree, that is not even native to India and is an import from African plains. Good question, let me try to answer based on my limited knowledge gained from Wikipedia and before that when I use to actively participate in monthly meetings of ISOCS or Indian Society of Cacti and Succulents. You see Baobab is a miracle of nature, it grows in places where nothing else will grow, and it attains gigantic proportions with a girth that will put to shame to biggest of behinds you may have seen. They take ages to grow and the specimen you see pictures in this post could be easily 500+ years old. The trunk can grow more than 25ft in width and they can grow up to 90+ feet.
In various parts of India, they have mythology and legends attached to them. There are few trees in Savanur Fort in Karnataka that are believed to be planted by none other than the divine flutist Krishna himself! What could be more plausible is the theory that they were brought to India as saplings or seeds by wandering Sufis, who brought them to India from Africa. This brings me to the name of the village Nanakramguda, now we all know Guru Nanak was the founder of Sikh faith and is believed to have traveled all over the northern hemisphere, to spread the message of love and harmony. We do know Guru Nanak visited Bidar, which is less than 100 KM from Nanakramguda in Hyderabad. No, I am not drawing any conclusions, but presenting a hypothesis, that is it possible that Guru Nanak or one of his disciples had brought this Baobab to Nanakramguda. Guess we will never find out.
There are other ruins beside the Baobab tree, I call the tree a ruin because the construction material surrounding it has really damaged the bark of the tree and very few leaves are left on it, though the shedding of leaves could be seasonal also.
I decided to look around and beyond the ground where cricket matches were taking place. There are ruins of a small temple close to the tree, from the ruins you can see the new temple of Nanakramguda called the Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple, believed to be 400 years old. Now if the new temple which is still used for worship and is in good shape is 400 years old, you can guess how old these other ruins are. True to the tradition of Vishnu Temples in South India, there is a huge Chariot used to take out a procession during festivals; it is housed in a room made to order outside the temple. There is also another small ruins, I was unable to find anybody who could tell me about the ruins. Wiki says that the temple and its surrounding lands were purchased by Seth Shivalal Pitti in 1861. It was a part of the private property of the Pitti family until 1954. Now it is under a trust belonging to the Pitti family.
But I am more worried about the Baobab tree, as it is taking too much hit from the construction material. This white building is coming up on the left side of the road, opposite to the Wipro building. I would request you dear reader to send this post to all your friends who work in IT industry, as I am sure some of them would be working in this IT company that is building the new campus and the top management may not be even aware of that they are slowly killing a tree that is more than 500 years old. This could be their chance to show some CSR and help in saving this tree which has both historical and mythological significance.
As to why I did not enter the temple? it was because just as I was about to enter the same a few SUV entered the premises at full speed and a few machine gun toting guys came out of it, they were protecting some politician cum property dealer type whose girth was giving competition to our giant Baobab in the Nanakramguda village, and I wanted to avoid meeting them, hence saved the visit to the temple for next time. The highlight of the visit were these sisters Krishnaveni and Chinnamai ( I am sure I have this one wrong), who kept on smiling at me and finally asked me in Telugu to click their pictures, we did not understand a word of each other but communicated effortlessly. They were posing and suggesting to me how I should click their pictures; here is one for you to see.
How to reach Ranganath Temple and Baobab Tree in Nanakramguda Village
On the ORR ( Outer Ring Road Hyderabad ) you will find boards mentioning exit to Nanakramguda Village and Financial District follow them if you are on the ISB road, lake the left from Wipro building, and you will see the tree next to this under construction white building opposite to the side gate of Wipro building in the financial district. I have tried to pin in the Google maps here. Be careful while walking around as a lot of discarded liquor bottles are spread around and can hurt you, the temple pond is also in very bad shape without proper boundary and be careful while moving around it as kids can fall in it.
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