The Dying Shade of Chinār

What a Fire!

Oriental Plane, Platanus Orientalis. Natively known as Booyn or Boone, In Persian as Chinār or Che-nār “What a fire!”. These are the names by which we call the beloved tree of our heritage. As there are myriads of irreplaceable treasures in the valley, Chinār is amongst the most enthralling. Its maturity and grandeur humbles you, while its serene shade swaddles around you like mother’s love. It is the witness to thousands of years of history. It has been a royal tree in the times of Mughal, a tree of sacred significance since the middle ages. The oldest in Asia and largest in the world is currently at the age of 648, planted in Chattargam (Budgam) by Syed-Abul Qasim Shah Hamdani (r.a), in 1374. Chinār can grow up to more than 30 meters tall. Valley’s climate is nourishing enough for them to grow far bigger than in any other place.

Undeniably, it is of the utmost aesthetic value to Kashmir’s natural landscape. Nonetheless, it also contributes significantly to the economy, ecology and medicine. As prestigious this tree is to Valley’s cultural and natural history, unfortunately, it is as much in danger due to the ignorance of the common man and dearth of integrity in administrative departments.

Paramount of Loss.

Loss of wealth or material may be redeemable, but the loss of life is a loss for life. In this case, tens of thousands of Chinār Trees. Since the 1970s, 17,124 out of 42,000 remain according to the survey conducted by Late M.S. Wadoo in 2004. Around 25,000 majestic Chinār lost in a span of 30 years. Chinār needs around 150 years to reach its full blooming proportion, at the very least. This misery swells even further when we account for the tree-years, the time of lost Chinār growth. And as we speak, a Booyn is drying up in your vicinity. Unethical tree-felling is a common threat to Booyn but it isn’t the worst. An enormous portion of the tree dies suffocating under the asphalt, construction, road-widening projects. And occasionally, when uprooted in bulk with machines, without a second thought. The majority of the loss, tragically, is bred up by the ignorance of the concerned authorities.

Save, How?

It would take more than a million years to replenish the time of lost Chinar growth. Neither do we have enough ideal land to promote a vigorous plantation drive. In this age, protecting the old is the viable option. Thus, in our societies, the significance of the Chinār requires an overhaul with the help of contemporary solutions. We would need to establish standard guidelines for everyone to follow. Designing an easy-to-access guide on how to conserve, cultivate, propagate, grow or acquire new saplings and catalogue the old could at least kickstart the movement.

Help start the movement.

Implementing these solutions requires a community effort and a generous amount of time. Staying optimistic, I have planned to create a basic know-how e-guide and a detailed App to catalogue the old Chinār trees, iA. If you would like to help and contribute, please read futher details and prerequisites in Introduction to Project Booyn.

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