A is for, Adyar Banyan Tree #BlogchatterA2Z

The Adyar Banyan Tree is one of the hidden gems of Chennai. While the jury is still out about whether this tree is the oldest one or the biggest Banyan in the World / India let me share what I learnt about it.

Adyar Banyan Tree or The Great Banyan Tree is known to be around 450 years old.  Located on the sprawling campus of the Theosophical Society in Adyar, it is the oldest existing tree in the city of Chennai.

That is me and the Adyar Banyan Tree. Well, at least some of it!:)

The rambling branches cover 40, 000 sq ft and the tree measures 238 feet from the North to the South and 250 feet from the East to the West. Yes, that is how gigantic it is!

At first sight you would be excused it you assumed that it is multiple trees grouped together .Your vision cannot encompass the tree at one go. You need to walk around it, slowly, to take it all in.

That’s not a park behind me, it’s only the Adyar Banyan Tree!

Interestingly, the main tree or the mother tree was uprooted in 1989, or 1984 as some claim, when a Cyclone hit the city, leading everyone to believe that the rest of the tree would slowly wither and die too. It surprised everyone, by not only surviving but thriving. A Banyan Tree is known to live on and on, and this one is proof that it does.

The aerial roots of the original tree have taken ground and grown so that each of them resembles a tree by itself.

The Aerial Roots

The Watchman there told us that this tree is not watered externally, it only absorbs dew and rainwater as Metro Water could kill it. Looking at the Adyar Banyan Tree you cannot help doffing one’s hat to Nature. It is a sight to be captured by the eyes and stored away in memory.

If you would like to visit


Monday to Saturday: 8:30 am to 10:00 am and 2pm to 4 pm.

Closed on Sunday.

Entry is free.


Wear comfortable walking shoes.

Carry a hat or an umbrella, the sun is unrelenting.

Respect nature and your surroundings and don’t litter.

While you are in Theosophical Society do walk around and take in the other amazing sights too.

Temples dedicated to various faiths, Zorashtrian, Sikh, Buddhism dot the premises.

You’ll also see a Bodhi Tree which has sprouted from a sapling of the original tree at Buddhagaya. The sapling was planted on 24-12-1950 and is this full grown tree now.

The Buddhist Temple and the Bodhi Tree. Pic Courtesy: The Husband

Another massive tree, full of screeching Bats, is sure to creep you out. At least it creeped me out!

Bats on a tree!

Along with preserving the past, The Theosophical Society also believes in moving towards the future. They have a Rainwater Harvesting Facility where the Total Volume of Rain Water Harvested in a year is 2.02 Crore Litres! How awesome is that?

After visiting the Adyar Banyan Tree I realised that it does not get the attention it deserves, either in print or otherwise. I hope that changes soon.

Written for the theme

My A to Z of Chennai: The City Viewed Through An Outsiders Eye


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27 thoughts on “A is for, Adyar Banyan Tree #BlogchatterA2Z

  1. Wow..the tree looks huge. Didn’t know about it. This shows that our country has some exciting things to see but not many people know about them. Waiting to know about such places through your posts, Mayuri.

  2. Wow, what a tree! I have lived in Chennai for 25 years of my life and have not visited it! I will definitely make a beeline for it the next time I land in Chennai. Talking of trees there is another tree called Perilla Maram (the nameless tree) near the town of Manamadurai in Tamil Nadu. It is believed that this tree has not been classified yet and hence botanists have not given it a scientific name. Hence it is called nameless. I am not sure how far this is true but the tree really looks extraordinary and unlike anything you would expect a tree to look like.

  3. The theosophical society is such a treasure in the city.. love walking inside, go all the way to the gate through which you can see the broken bridge and beach..

  4. I had seen a show on this tree some days ago on television with my son and we were mesmerised. Truly amazing nature is! I definitely want to visit this place when I visit Chennai next. I’m sure my kids would love to see it for real too.

  5. That’s commencing in a unique way. I bet most of us despite of being to Chennai so many times knew about this historical tree . Will surely like up visit it once in my next trip.

  6. Each city has so many hidden gems that we need to explore. I am sure with each post coming along I will find a lot of places to visit whenever I go to Chennai next. I would love to this nature delight never and I loved your pic sitting on the bench.

  7. That’s a great start Mayuri. I don’t know much about Chennai, but your engaging narration makes me want to visit. I’ll be bookmarking your posts for a future trip!
    I recently learned that bats help in pollination of certain trees- so they are essential to maintain the cycle of nature! I used to find them creepy but this fact changed my view 🙂

  8. That’s a massive tree, and what great history about it. I wonder how would it look at nighttime. Spooky I am sure but happy to find such a great tree in Chennai.

  9. A banyan tree is like a big joint family where many branches have settled their roots. Even if the central patriarch / matriarch leaves for good, the family continues because root is strong.

  10. I’ve been to Adyar and daym! I haven’t visited this Banyan tree. What a miss, for sure! Those aerial roots are wowsome! Brilliant start to the challenge, Mayuri!

  11. Great start of A 2Z dear, and loved the post for so many reasons. first great pictures, in-depth research and useful information. will surely keep this post in mind while visiting Chennai. looking forward to the next posts.

  12. Absolutely fantastic! I’m so fascinated with these anciente creatures. And it’s incredible that the tree kept living even if the main body was uprouted. Really, we have so much to learn from Nature.

  13. Wow! This is new to me. Maybe I should visit Chennai just to see this campus for its wonderful trees.. 🙂 I have heard about the great Banyan at Pemgiri and seen those at Auroville and Botanical Garden in Kolkata. I have added this Ficus to my list!!

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