How a group of concerned citizens, along with agricultural officials, is trying to revive an iconic 700-year-old banyan tree in Mahbubnagar in Telangana that was savaged by termites.

The holiday crowd is missing. So are the chirping birds perched on its branches. The iconic Pillalamarri banyan tree, which is said to be 700 years old, on the outskirts of Mahbubnagar, 115 km from Hyderabad, has been “bedridden” for the past five months as termites have eaten into its inner trunk and roots. The bark has been reduced to lifeless soft tissue.

An eerie silence prevails, and a faint acrid smell pervades the site as blue carboys of an insecticide mix and drips of chlorpyriphos, a pesticide, are scattered around. With a canopy spread over four acres overlooking a verdant hillock, the tree is being looked after as one does an ailing family elder.

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Teams of biologists and horticulturists have been injecting litres of pesticide into the phloem (bast) of each massive branch through the bark. The officials are optimistic about its revival.

The aerial roots have been primed, ducted and laced with a paste of chlorpyriphos and husk. Majid Khan, the keeper of the tree, says: “Look at the new growth of shoots and leaves … this is a sure sign of the tree rejuvenating.”

Workers descend on the site to administer yet another day’s dose of medicine. A few young visitors peek through for a dekko of the tree. Opposite, a priest seems to be in prayer under the banyan. #KhabarLive



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