From a distance, it looks something like a small forest and you can be pardoned for expecting to find many trees inside it.
And at close sight, under the huge area of shade provided by the leaves, one can see thousands of tree trunks – so it appears.
However, everything is actually just one tree with its branches and leaves spreading out and covering a whopping 18,918 square metres (about 4.6 acres). It’s the biggest tree in the world, by the space covered.
And funny enough, the tree has more than 3,000 prop roots going down into the ground which create the illusion of many trees and also support the tree to spread out.
This tree is a Banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis), the national tree of India. A wonder on its own, this one is located in the Calcutta Botanical Garden in India, more properly known as the “Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden”.
The garden is home to thousands of plants from all around the world, some of which are very rare.
Despite being home to so many plants, The Great Banyan is unsurprisingly, the most attractive landmark in the botanical garden, drawing more visitors than all the rest of the garden.
The tree is said to be more than 250 years old though its exact date of birth is not known for sure. It has survived two strong cyclones in 1864 and 1867, and a bolt of lightning.
In 1925, the lightning strike left the main trunk of the tree diseased and rotting, making it necessary for it to be cut off.
But The Great Banyan Tree stood the test of time, growing and spreading its branches even beyond a road that was built to encircle what once was its circumference.