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The great banyan tree near wall, covering four acres [Bijapur].

The great banyan tree near wall, covering four acres [Bijapur].

Photographer: Unknown

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1860

Shelfmark: Photo 937/(19)

Item number: 93719

Length: 18.9

Width: 24.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photograph of a massive banyan tree at the foot of a hill near Bijapur, Karnataka, by an unknown photographer, from an album of 40 prints taken in the 1860s. The old walled citadel of Bijapur in the Deccan, with its many fine monuments and mosques, was once the capital of the Adil Shahi kingdom. The Adil Shahi rulers were active patrons of arts, music and letters and Bijapur flourished from the 15th to the 17th centuries, finally falling to the Mughals under Aurangzeb in 1686. The national tree of India, the banyan is the Indian fig tree, Ficus bengalensis, whose branches extend roots and regenerate themselves like new trees over a large area. This characteristic and the longevity of the tree makes it a focus of sacred beliefs and it is an integral part of the myths and legends of India. Venerable banyan trees, sometimes hundreds of years old, are known to spread over an astonishing acreage.

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