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Sequoia Tree: Here’s Why Spiritual Significance is Attached to it!

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Symbolic Trees in the world today
The Giant Sequoia in Nevada, California. NewsGram

– by Dr Bharti Raizada

July 17, 2017: People all over the globe believe that trees, particularly big and old trees- are a symbol of forgiveness, gratefulness, wisdom, strength, endurance. Some of these trees in different countries and religions are- Bodhi tree in India, The Major Oak in England. The Great Sugi in Japan, The Baobab in Africa, Tane Mahuta in New Zealand, El Tule in Mexico. In Hinduism, some trees are considered eternal and wishful filling or Kalpvriksh.

Recently, I visited Sequoia National Park in California, USA. George Stewart led the movement to create Sequoia National Park and in 1890 Congress agreed to this idea.

Sequoia trees are mainly found in Sierra Nevada mountain range between 5,000- 7,000 feet. Above 7,500 feet temperature is too cold and below 5,000 feet it is too dry for Sequoias to grow. These trees are protected resource. Sequoia trees are conifers but it differs from other conifers in that its trunk remains thick far up the tree giving it a columnar shape and huge bulk. This large volume makes them world’s largest trees.

Sequoia trees can grow up to 311 feet tall and 40 feet in width at base, 52,500 cubic feet volume,  1385 tons in weight i.e. more than four fully loaded jumbo jet airplanes. They live up to 3,200 years. Sequoias can grow in groups. The Three Graces and The Four Guardsmen are group of three and four sequoias respectively. These Sequoias are of same age.

Tiny male cones grow near tree tops. Late in winter, they release mists of yellow pollen onto the female cones hanging below. Female cones, small when pollinated, grow bigger and each cone holds 200 seeds tightly between its scales. 455 cones contain 91,000 seeds or one pound of seeds.

Mature sequoias carry thousands of female cones. About 2,000 new cones may grow each year. Cones can hang on the tree, sealed, for up to 20 years until something opens them. Thousands of seeds sprout in the ashy soil left by the fire. This soil absorbs and holds moisture well.

New roots easily penetrate it because it is loose and crumbly. The odds of a single tree to grow into a big sequoia are extremely small. The hazards to seed are—too deep forest litter preventing seed to reach soil, seed can land in bad spot and never sprouts, seed eaten by ground squirrel, seedling starts in shade and withers, if seeds are too crowded then they wither, fungus in soil kills seedling,  if there is not enough rain then seedling dries out, cone with seeds taken home by someone. Sequoias produce million of seeds to increase the chances that a few will grow to maturity. Damage from ozone pollution shows up as a yellow spot on seedlings and this reduces the tree’s ability to create nutrients through photosynthesis.

Each tree ring marks one year of growth and records fire and weather conditions. The wider the ring the better the growing conditions- sun, water, and nutrients were plentiful. Tree growth is measured in rings per inch. Sequoias need frequent fires to reproduce. Their survival depends upon conditions created by natural processes. To grow Sequoia need moist, but not soggy soil throughout the summer. Most Sequoia saplings that grow in dense groups will die. Competition for light and moisture is too great. When fire thins these dense groups the survivors fill out.

Fire kills some sequoias but benefits many others-

  • Heat opens cones on sequoias and seeds rain down
  • Seeds land on clear soil fertilized by ash
  • Heat kills insects and fungus that may attack seedlings
  • Trees that compete for sunlight, moisture, and nutrients are killed
  • Once burned, an area is less flammable for several years, giving seedlings a good start

Sequoia trees live for 3,000 years. Adaptation makes then live this long. The bark of the tree is up to two feet thick protects the living layer underneath it. The tannin, a reddish chemical, present in high concentrations in Sequoia bark, gives the Sequoia resistance to rot, boring insects, fungus, and fire. Thick bark with many air pockets insulates the wood from heat. The high branches hold foliage well above most fires. The sap is watery and not very flammable, so does not burn easily. When injured the tree heals and keep growing. Curved healing rings grow over wounds restoring the trees protective surface. Some trees may be burned hollow but survive for centuries. Rapid growth often occurs after fire. With competing trees burnt away, the surviving sequoias get more light, moisture, and nutrients. Trees may grow thicker annual rings for as long as 100 years. Tons of leaves, branches and tree trunks pile up on the forest floor each year. For tiny sequoia seeds, this dry and impenetrable deep layer is a sure death. They can not even start to grow. Fires clear this natural litter and leave behind better conditions for sequoia regeneration. Repeated ground fires usually leave a large triangular scar on the trunks. These scars limit the flow of water to the crown. The top dies, leaving a dead snag above massive branches and abundant foliage. Heat from fire dries out hanging Sequoia cones leading to cones opening and falling of millions of seeds.

Giant Sequoias need an enormous amount of water. By growing near the meadow but not in it, they can benefit. Their roots capture moisture as it drains toward the meadow. Sequoias shallow roots can support a giant tree in less than three feet of earth by spreading out far from the trees. Interlocking roots throughout the forest help to support the Sequoias. As Sequoias grow taller, they loose lower branches due to fire or lack of Sun. Once the trees rise above the rest of the forest canopy, their pointed crowns round off. Dead tops mark the oldest Sequoias. Once mature they grow no taller, but continue to grow thicker.

Foot traffic wears away topsoil exposing shallow Sequoia roots. Most large sequoias die by falling after root damage, soft soil,  heavy snow or the wind.

Giant sequoia groves are portions of Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forest that contain giant sequoias. In most groves, giant sequoias are fewer in number than other tree species but are the most visually striking and dominant in size. Within park boundaries, park staff distinguishes approximately 40 different giant sequoia groves, ranging from one to tens of thousands of sequoia trees per grove. Giant Forest is a large sequoia grove, set on a rolling plateau between the Marble and Middle Forks of the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park. It is the largest of the unlogged giant sequoia groves, and it contains more exceptionally large sequoias than any other grove. It hosts the largest living sequoia, the General Sherman Tree. In this grove, visitors can see the effects of decades of prescribed burning: open forest conditions and clumps of giant sequoia seedlings that establish after fire.

Grant Grove is located in Kings Canyon National Park. This grove has numerous exceptionally large sequoias grouped in a 90-acre area. A higher percentage of this grove’s mature sequoias reach sizes of ten, fifteen, and twenty feet (3, 4.5, or 6 m) in diameter than in any other grove.

Redwood Mountain Grove is a very large grove of a spectacular old growth sequoias and a diversity of plants on the forest floor. In the spring, the colorful mix of wildflowers along the ridge trail and near Redwood Creek will delight hikers as much as the giant sequoias. In the fall, the dogwood shrubs turn a deep red color, and the fall light provides good photo opportunities.

Redwood Mountain Grove is the largest grove in total area, has the largest area of old growth giant sequoias, and contains more mature sequoias than any other grove. This grove was one of the first areas where Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks started prescribed burning to reduce fuels and stimulate giant sequoia reproduction. The large fire scars on some of the monarch giant sequoias are a testament to the presence of fire over many centuries in sequoia groves. Today, the open stands of trees and the growth of young giant sequoias at Redwood Mountain Grove illustrate successful outcomes of the parks’ fire program

The Sugar Bowl Grove is one of few examples of a nearly pure giant sequoia forest, rather than the typical mix of giant sequoias with other types of trees.

 

Some interesting facts:

  1. General  Sherman, the name was given by James Wolverton in 1879, after the leader he served under during the Civil War, is the largest tree by Volume and weight.  General Sherman, in the US, has a girth of 109 feet around on the ground and is 36.5 feet in diameter at the base.

2. El Tule in Mexico is largest by thickness in the world.

3. Coast Redwood is the tallest tree in the world. It is 367 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter.

4. Sugar Pine is biggest and tallest pine tree. It is 216 feet tall and 10 feet in diameter.

5. General Grant, in Kings Canyon National Park, USA, is the largest tree by width.

6. Centennial stump in California National park is 24 inch in diameter. Eastern people in Philadelphia did not believe that such a giant tree existed and called it a “California Hoax”.

7. Sentinel Tree, a Sequoia in Sequoia National Park, is 2,200 years old.

  1. Giant Forest, named by John Muir, in Sequoia National Park hosts four of world’s five largest trees. In Giant Forest Sequoias grow bigger than anywhere else, and Round Meadow is one of the best Sequoia habitat within Giant Forest.

 

The above information is from Park website and display boards in National park.

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7 Most Famous Temples to Visit in Uttar Pradesh

show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not to miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

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Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir one of most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

The state of Uttar Pradesh is regarded as an enshrined pilgrimage junction since the inception. Devotees from across the world solicit spirituality by visiting these temples of divine importance. Uttar Pradesh is known for its special attraction especially for the Hindu devotees since it is the birthplace for Vishnu avatars, Lord Ram and Lord Krishna.

Undoubtedly, you must show up at these temples on your visit to Uttar Pradesh and enjoy the majestic beauty, architecture and not miss, the devotional sound of the bells.

The listicle shows you a tour of these famous temples worth giving a visit in Uttar Pradesh.

Prem Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Prem Mandir is one of the most famous temples in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Built on the outskirts of Vrindavan, the Prem Mandir is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It was structured by the Fifth Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. Statues of Lord Krishna and his followers cover the entire temple symbolizing the crucial events of Lord Krishna’s life and birth. The temple is known for its exquisite architecture and the sculptures. Devotees visit the Prem Temple to offer their prayings to Lord Krishna, during Janmashtami and Diwali.

Banke Bihari Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Banke Bihari temple main gate in Vrindavan. Wikimedia.

The Banke Bihari Temple of Vrindavan is a Hindu temple built by Swami Haridas, the solemn guru of the ancient singer Tansen. The temple is efficiently carved in Rajasthani style. The literal meaning of Banke is “bent in three places” and Bihari means “supreme enjoyer”, which suggests that the main idol Lord Krishna is in a Banke posture or the famous Tribhanga position. It has been claimed that Lord Krishna’s statue was hidden underground by a Hindu priest during the Mughal era. It was Swami Haridas who dreamt of Lord Krishna asking him to release the statue. Swami Haridas dug up the place, found the statue and built a temple for it.

Ram Janma Bhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Ram Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh. Wikimedia.

Although Ayodhya is presumed as the birthplace of Lord Ram, it was in the town of Ram Kot where he was actually born. This temple is known as Ram Janma Bhoomi marking the divine presence of Shri Ram. Travellers visiting Ram Kot in Uttar Pradesh pay their homage to Lord Ram and admire the inscriptions on the temple walls depicting the life of Lord Ram.

Goraknath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Gorakhnath Mandir in Uttar Pradesh.Wikimedia.

The Gorakhnath Temple is one of the most popular temples in Uttar Pradesh and is believed to have been structured at the exact spot where Saint Gorakhnath had meditated. The main feature of the temple is the garb griha where the saint is depicted as an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Tourists also visit the pond next to the Goraknath Temple called Mansarovar for peaceful meditation or boat rides.

Shri Krishna Janbhoomi Temple

Uttar Pradesh
Sri Krishna Janam Bhoomi Temple in Uttar Pradesh is the birthplace of Krishna. Wikimedia.

Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi is one of the most sacred places for Sanatan Dharmis (Hindus) since it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It is a prison cell belonging to his mama (maternal Uncle) Raja Kans where Lord Krishna was born.

Located in Mathura on the banks of river Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh, Shri Krishna Janmbhoomi temple is approximately 145 km from Delhi. The prison cell, commonly known as ‘Garbha Griha’, in the temple premise is the exact place where Lord Krishna was born.

Sarnath Temple

Uttar Pradesh
A Buddhist temple at Sarnath. Wikimedia

This famous Buddhist site in Varanasi, Sarnath Temple is popularly known where Lord Buddha addressed his first sermons. It is here where the lord set the ‘wheel of law’ in motion. Stupas like Dhamek Stupa and Chowkhandi Stupa are situated inside the enshrined temple. The temple aims to inculcate its thousands of visitors about the history and impact of Buddhist cultures.

Bharat Mata Mandir

Uttar Pradesh
Bharat Mata Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh has the Indian Map structure inside the temple. Wikimedia

The temple located in Varanasi is dedicated to Bharat Mata with the national flag in her hand and a tri-colored sari adorning the idol, who is regarded as a symbolized figure of unity in Diversity and integrity in India. It acquires a huge map of the Mother India on the ground denoting the statue of the Goddess or the Mother of India.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Do You Know there are only two Leaning Temples in The World? Visit the Leaning Temple of Huma in Sambalpur

Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

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Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

The famous Leaning Temple of Huma built in 1670 AD is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the only two leaning temples in the world. It was constructed by the ruler, Baliar Singh, the 5th ruler of the kingdom of Chauhan of Sambalpur, Odisha, India. The speciality of this temple is it’s structure skewed to one direction.

Reason Behind its Tilted Structure:

It is regarded that the reason for its tilted structure could be some interior dismounting of rocky bed at which this temple is positioned, either because of flood current inside the Mahanadi River or earthquake, thereby affecting the position of this original temple.  An interesting fact to be noted is that the other little temples inside the Hamlet are also tilted to various other directions.

The finest time to visit this leaning temple is October to March. Enshrine your spirituality during these months and celebrate the festive season in the town of Sambalpur, Odisha. Shivratri is believed to be the chief festival of this temple. Hence, it advances a huge gathering specially during Shivratri festival during March. You may also find ‘Kudo’ fishes on the bank of river Mahanadi near the temple who are given food by devotees as a part of the worship.

Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

How to Reach the Leaning Temple of Huma:

By Road – Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

By Rail – Sambalpur railway station is the closest station from Huma. You may find taxis and cabs to drop you 23 kms towards the temple of Huma.

By Air – Bhubaneshwar is the closest airport to Huma which is approximately 290 ms away from Huma. Catch a taxi or cab to drop you at the exact destination.

Leaning Temple
Huma Leaning Temple is one of the two leaning temples of the world. Wikimedia.

Where to stay:

There are various hotels nearby the temple at affordable prices presenting the pleasant view of the outside village.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana 

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10 quotes from Bhagavada Gita to kick start your day

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By Sakchi Srivastava

Bhagavada Gita or the Song of the God, in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, is a narrative between Arjuna and Krishna. Krishna passes on sermons and teachings on life and death to Arjuna. These teachings are universal truths which have proved their relevance through millenniums. They are of extreme relevance to people of all ages, no matter which nationality they belong to. These are eternal truths which help every individual to pass the necessary ordeals of life.

Here are 10 special quotes from the Bhagvada Gita which can enlighten the mind and the soul –

1. “It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.”
People are born in this world as individuals responsible for their own actions. They should make their own decisions no matter how right and wrong they are, without trying to imitate others. People should learn to take ownership of their life rather walking on someone else’s road.

2. “I am Time, the great destroyer of the world.”
As goes the great saying “Time and Tide wait for none”, Bhagvada Gita also propagates the beliefs that time is the most valuable ornament of our existence. Any being belonging to any age group cannot afford to waste it. It teaches us how to be organized and have a productive and meaningful life. Once wasted, it can never be compensated.

3. “O Krishna, the mind is restless”
The mind is a powerful element that cannot be controlled by any force. It is its own master. At one point people believe in something and at the very other moment they support something else. The mind is always in a state of flux.

4. ‘Reshape yourself through the power of your will.’
Life should be conquered by the will. Will is the strongest emotion which drives the entire existence. People’s will to achieve their goals or to become something in life helps them to achieve success.

5. “Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”
People have the right to work, but never to the fruit of that work. They should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should they long for inaction. Hard work should be the soul dedication and the result will follow. People should always be patience.

6. “There is nothing lost or wasted in life.”
Everyone has the privilege of living only one life. People come into this world without belongings but as individuals. They should not have regrets in this life. They don’t even lose their loved ones, they are all here.

7. “Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”
Every man is an individual with different opinions and perspectives. A man is known by his beliefs. Whatever he believes in becomes his identity.

8. “There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.”
Anyone who doubts his decisions, his likings, his dislikes or is not confident about his choices will fail to be happy no matter how many chances are given to him. He will not find happiness in any state of mind.

9. “One can become whatever one wants to be (if one constantly contemplates on the object of desire with faith).”
All have hankering towards achieving goals in life. Though some are successful but some lose the battle because they are in doubt. People should understand humans have the capability to achieve everything in life only if they believe in themselves.

10. “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
Anything that takes birth is destined to die. Everything, that breathes, which includes plants and animals, also have a lifespan.