The Big Banyan Tree is maintained by a public sector bank and is now popularly called Dodda Alada Mara Udyanavana (in Kannada ) literally translated to the Big Banyan Tree Garden. It has become popular among places to visit in Bangalore. Also, the fact that is located only 3km from the Manchanbele Dam, it highly makes for a quick weekend destination for the city dwellers. The tree is located in a small park, the entire area of which is covered by the banyan tree. The tree in itself is huge and beautiful. The main trunk does not exist anymore but the aerial prop roots have matured into very thick trunks. Apparently, it is one of the oldest trees in India, along with other banyan trees in Chennai and Andhra Pradesh.
Over 400 years old and spanning three acres, the Big Banyan Tree has stood silent witness to the city's growth. No one quite knows who planted the Big Banyan tree in Kethohalli village near Tavarekere, but it is widely believed that its gnarled vertical roots have silently witnessed the city's growth from a one-horse sleepy town to the tech city that it is. At first, utterly neglected, the tree is now a heritage. Hundreds of tourists flock to its presence and look on in wonder as they make their way through the maze of hanging roots. Researchers delight in this open-air laboratory and botanists spend hours attempting to unlock the secrets of its longevity.
While talking about the Big Banyan Tree, it will be of interest to look at the etymology of the word “Banyan”. The tree got its name from “Banias” or Indian traders who relaxed under its shade and displayed their wares! From the 17th century, onwards English writers began to refer to the tree as Banyan Tree. Daniel Defoe featured it in his 1719 novel where Robinson Crusoe made his home in a Banyan Tree, as those with a good memory will recall from their school days! It is believed that the Big Banyan Tree symbolizes the holy trinity of Hindu Gods. The root, stem, and branches represent Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva respectively. The Banyan Tree has its place in Buddhism as well as Lord Buddha attained his enlightenment under one.
The Big Banyan Tree is situated in Kethohalli village, just 28 kilometers from Bangalore and hence convenient among places to visit in Bangalore. Take the Mysore Road and take a deviation to the right at Kumbalagod junction soon after Kengeri. The Big Banyan Tree will be 7 km down the road. Or take Magadi Road and turn left when you see the board for Big Banyan Tree located between Tavarekere and Chennenahalli. Carry on for 6 km and you will find the Big Banyan Tree. You can also visit a temple of Lord Munisvara inside the Big Banyan Tree or Dodda Alada Mara complex. Interestingly, this shrine was placed after the main trunk collapsed a few years ago.