Of the many tourist attractions in Bangalore, the Dodda Alada Mara is truly like no other. It is a huge banyan tree that is famous worldwide as one of the oldest and largest banyan tress in India and Asia. It is estimated to be over 400 years old. Found in the village of Ramohalli about 28 kilometers to the west of Bangalore, this one tree occupies a 3-acre-wide area. The name, which may also sometimes be spelled with a single “d” (“Doda”), literally means “Big Banyan Tree”. To the first-time visitor, it may seem like many trees with connecting roots and branches, but it is just one super tree. Its main root suffered from a disease and had spread out, making it look as though it is more than one tree.
To protect it from being damaged and further vandalized, the entire tree is enclosed in a fence. There is noticeable etched graffiti on the trunk and roots, and it is hoped that nothing more will be added to them. Also inside the fence is a Shiva temple. Visitors may walk around the celebrated tree and enjoy its shade along a marked pathway. Visitors are never alone since the tree is always visited by monkeys who are used to having humans around and in fact harass humans by snatching bags and foods.
The Dodda Alada Mara is not alone since there are three other notable banyan trees in the country. The world’s biggest banyan tree according to the Guinness Book of World Records in 1989 is found in Thimmamma Marrimanu, about 25 km from Kadiri, Anatapur district, Andhrapradesh, India. Amazingly, its canopy covers 11 acres of land. The second largest is called the Great Banyan at the Botanical Gardens in Kolkata, and the third is the Adyar banyan tree in Chennai
The Great Banyan in Kolkata actually looks more like a forest today than a singular tree. The great cyclones of 1884 and 1886 damaged it and broken most of its main branches. Today, it does not have a main trunk; its huge aerial roots look like trunks, which is why people normally think this one tree is a collection of many trees covering a 4-acre-wide area. It has more than 3,000 roots. Scientists are not sure how old it is but there are 19th-century travel books that mention this Great Banyan in Kolkata.
All three banyan trees found in India, except the one in Chennai, made it in the list of most popular living trees in the world. To reach Dodda Alada Mara in Ramohalli Village, travelers may take either Mysore Road when coming from Kumbalgod or Magadi Road when coming from Chennenahalli. On Mysore Road, a small 7-km road to the right of Kumbalgod junction directly leads to the base of the tree. The tree’s wide canopy is already visible from afar. From Magadi Road, on the other hand, a road sign points to a 6-km road that leads to the tree. Commuters may take a number of public buses that travel to the Ramohalli Village.