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Chinar: The Bhune-our pride and recognition

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Bilal Wani
We eulogize the enchanting beauty of Kashmir but we certainly cannot cast off the deteriorating condition of our state tree Chinar locally called as Bhune.
The name “Bhune” is derived from the Sanskrit word Bhawani (as per research) means a blissful mother. A mother showing kind, tender and gentle qualities to rear and care her children with enraptured, beatific, and ecstatic nature.
It’s cool and clean shade, fresh and luscious air and appealing serenity provides, comfort and zeal particularly to the denizens of Kashmir and in general to all those who seek its company e.g tourists etc.
Chinar is one among the heritage symbols of Kashmir. It is serving as a natural machine in maintenance of eco-balance, cleans the poisonous gases from atmosphere and fills it with fresh oxygen and vapors.
It bears cultural utility, aesthetic beauty, hygienic value, social dignity, and environmental advantage. The majestic, dignified, and gigantic Chinar takes hundreds of years to reach its maturity. Its motifs are found in nearly all artistic manufactured items of handicrafts in Kashmir.
The great poet and philosopher Alama Iqbal sums up the legacy of Chinar tree vis-a-vis Kashmir by the beautiful couplet, Jis khaak ki zameer main ho aatish chinar Mumkin nahi ki sard ho who khaak arjumand. Referring to Kashmir as the land of celestial dust but it has in its conscience the part of the Chinar.
Lal Ded the famous sufi saint of Kashmir also mentioning the Bhune in her wakhs (poetry). She compared a faithful wife with Bhune –the chinar tree to analogue the shade and purity. It means that she had experienced the solace and majesty of Chinar.
The actual origin of Chinars in Kashmir is not evident. There are different opinions as some botanists, historians, travelers and researchers believe that the Chinar came to Kashmir from Athens. Some say that it has travelled via Europe, Middle east, towards Hindu-Kush and ultimately reached Kashmir from Afghanistan.
Some associated its coming with the advent of Islam. However, some historians and botanists wrongly attribute the coming of Chinar to Kashmir with Mughal period, though it cannot be denied that Mughals had extended the plantation of chinars in the nook and corner of vale.
The cutting of this royal tree was strictly banned by Mughal kings but what a hoity-toity! that some hard–hearted people lacking the respect of nature are hell-bent in destroying, damaging and cutting of the green Chinar of the vale in broad day light.
It has come down to their numbers from 42000 in 1970 to 19897 as per 2005 survey and that too by the full legal protection under law. From the last three decades, Chinar trees are dwindling fast due to drying because of ongoing developmental activities and increasing pollution and no one bothers to what is happening to the great cultural heritage.
It is being mercilessly cut to satisfy the greed of unethical, materialistic and anti-nature people. Various limbs of administration allegedly facilitate chinar onslaught through corruption, nepotism, and criminal silence. Don’t we have the provisions by which we could protect this royal tree . We can but are not ready for that. Why the chinars along our roads are not been properly maintained as like in developed countries? Why and how the chinars are seen in some body’s compound today? Where were they been planted hundred years before? Everyday young and green chinar fall to the inefficiency of administration and greed of people.
The environmentalists and forest protectionist have become the diligent spectators to this madness. To live in harmony with nature it becomes imperative for the state government to take various concrete measures to safeguard the Chinar because it has been sighted in Kashmir neither the civil society nor any other organization are serious enough towards this issue. It looks like all persons are lost in labyrinth and are clueless about their surroundings.
(The author hails from Pattan (Baramulla). He can be reached at [email protected])


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