Great Pipal Tree at Lesliegunge. Decr. 1813.
Artist: Smith, Robert (1787-1873)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of a Pipal Tree at Lesliegunge by Robert Smith (1787-1873) dated December 1813. This is one of 27 drawings (28 folios) of views in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) and Sasaram, Hazaribagh and Palamau (Bihar) taken in 1813. Inscribed on the original cover is: 'No. 1. Luknow. Hazaribagh. Palamow' 'etc.' Captain Robert Smith was a military engineer with the East India Company and was in India from 1805 to 1833. He designed a number of buildings in India and also repaired various Indian monuments including the Kutb Minar and the Jami Masjid at Delhi. In 1813 to 1814 he was surveying on the Mirzapur South frontier.
The Pipal tree, also known as the Peepul or Bodhi tree, is an Indian species of fig-tree held sacred by the Buddhists, who believe that Gautama Buddha received Enlightenment under a Pipal tree at Bodh Gaya some 2,500 years ago. It grows to a great age and size and is said to be the bridegroom of its female consort the Banyan or Bar tree. Often the Pipal and Banyan trees are seen next to each other with a stone platform around their bases known as a Chautara. As well has having great religious significance, the tree is the centre of village life. Under its plentiful shade justice was once meted out, now local assemblies take place here and it is still held that no-one can lie under a Pipal tree.