Bhaderwah, Sep 21: A Cedar tree, having 54 feet trunk and 35 feet breast diameter, was found in Chanti Bala in the Bhalessa forest range in Jammu and Kashmir Doda district, which forest officials claim is the world’s largest and perhaps the oldest Cedar tree.
The officials want the location of the Cedar tree to be declared as a heritage site, while the Panchayat Raj Institution (PRI) members demanded that the location be brought under a tourism map.
Believed to be centuries old, the mammoth tree located on the eastern hill of Gandoh tehsil’s Chanti-Bala Panchayat, 124 km from Doda town, has a religious significance for Nag devotees and has been worshipped for centuries by the community.
Surrounded by a thick coniferous forest, the visibly different tree because of its gigantic size, was located by the field staff, Divisional Forest Officer, Bhaderwah Chander Shekhar told at the scene.
“The Deodar, also known as cedar, has a trunk diameter of 54 feet and 35 feet breast size, which is the scientific way of measuring the size of a tree. As per our research and the data we have collected, this is the largest tree of this species (Cedrus Deodara) in the world and seems to be the oldest one as well,” he said.
Shekhar said the department would refer this to the Forest Survey of India to calculate its exact age.
“We have adopted the procedure so that this will be declared as a heritage site for its unique size,” the forest official said, adding “once the tree is declared heritage, people from all over the world will start visiting here to see this unique tree which gives a nostalgic feeling due to its size”.
Sarpanch Chanti Bala Sansar Chand claimed that the tree had been worshipped for 12 generations.
“Our forefathers told us that when someone tried to cut the branches of the tree, blood and milk-like fluid started oozing out of it since then no one dared to harm the tree,” he said
The sarpanch said they are fortunate to have this tree, which is going to give them an identity in this far-off place and turn their fortunes if visitors start arriving there.
The residents of the panchayat and adjoining areas led by PRI members including Block Development Council Chairman Abbas Rather and District Development Council member Changa Nadeem Sharief Niaz have urged the government to officially declare the tree as the largest cedar tree in the world and take necessary steps to bring it under tourism map.
Niaz sanctioned Rs 10 lakhs for the beautification and lighting of the site around the tree so that visitors can enjoy its beauty.
“This tree is of course an asset for us to attract tourists in this area which otherwise is one of the most backward places in Jammu and Kashmir.
We as public representatives will try our best to showcase the glory of this unique asset of nature to the outer world. We hope the government, especially the forest department, will also do the needful at the earliest,” he said.