“Trees are a place of solitude, respite and healing…Big Banyan Tree is an unique experience under nature’s canopy offering everyday man respite and much more…”
Bangalore city is blessed with many one-day getaways. Last weekend, we visited the The Big Banyan Tree in Bangalore or Dodda Alada Mara which is just about 35 kms away off Bangalore-Mysore highway. With its unique tree ‘park’ and surrounding Manchinbele Dam area, it is perfect spot for half-day picnic. Also, it is probably one of the least known outing destination near Bangalore. That’s what makes it off-beat destination in and around Bangalore. So get ready for a journey away from traffic of Bangalore
What is Big Banyan Tree?
Dodda Aalada Mara, literally translates as Big Banyan Tree in Kannada os a giant 400 plus-year old Banyan tree park. It is located in the village of Kethohalli on the outskirts of Bangalore. It is about 30 kms from the city off Bangalore-Mysore highway.
For Bangaloreans, usual destinations to explore for weekend road trips are Nandi Hills, Lepakshi Temple or Avalabetta. That’s what makes this quaint tree ‘park’ a great place to drive to on an early Sunday morning.
What to do at Big Banyan Tree Park
The tree ‘park’ is spread over 5 acres and it is about 400 years old. We took a stroll along the labyrinth of the roots of the giant tree which gives it a feel of multiple trees instead of one. while entertaining ourselves with the acts of monkeys who have made tree their home. The tree is home to many native birds, squirrels and monkeys. While we entertained ourselves at the antics of monkeys who reside here. However, beware of the ‘monkey menace’. Avoid feeding them and protect your belongings especially sunglasses, bags and your little ones from monkeys.
There is also Shiva temple (Muniswara temple) inside the tree which is popular for the urban legend of fulfilling unfulfilled wishes. So if you have a wish to fulfil, take nine rounds around the temple and it may get fulfilled in next 90 days!
How is the drive to Big Banyan Tree
We started off early on Sunday morning to avoid any traffic. One can visit tree park anytime from 6:30 am to 6 pm. The drive from Bangalore city is about 32-35 kms on Bangalore-Mysore Highway until you get off the highway. The tree ‘park’ is 7 kms off the deviation to the right at Kumbalagod junction soon after Kenger on the Mysore highway. Note that as you take the turn towards the Banyan Tree the road would be narrow with speed breakers. Drive carefully and enjoy the changing landscape filled with verdant greenery. We visited this place right at the advent of Ganeshotsav and hence were greeted by kids collecting money for the celebrations.
Along the drive, we came across many nurseries and locals selling fruits. We took generous breaks drinking local fruit juices and admiring nursery plants.
Places near and around Big Banyan Tree
The area around the Big Banyan Tree is a perfect picnic-spot due to proximity of Manchinbele Dam which is about 14 kms from the Big Banyan Tree. Manchanabele Dam is the small reservoir built across the river Arkavathi for the irrigation purposes and to supply water for the Magadi town. The dam area offers bunch of activities such as short hikes, bird watching and photography due to its natural beauty.
While on road trip, we prefer relishing local food. There are plenty of options on Nice Road to eat authentic Kannadiga breakfast. However, this trip was different. We had packed home-made food and carried picnic mat and books to read! We took a short hike from the dam near a hill overlooking reservoir dam. Once we reached at hill-top, we lay down our mat and we enjoyed food while reading book under shade of tree on soft green grass. Feeling rejuvenated, we enjoyed this short break from the city and highly recommend to all our readers.