THE BANYAN TREE
The Banyan Tree zone was only revealed after some months of work on the land. A small clearing has been made around one banyan and paths opened up to two others, taking one past dramatic overhanging rocks, grottos and small caves.
Surrounded by encroaching jungle, this is perhaps the most peaceful part of Samakanda, suitable for meditation and quiet contemplation within a primal, natural setting. Beneath the main banyan, sheltered by a massive overhanging rock and accessed by steps down through a narrow gorge, lies a primitive stone shrine, surrounded by stone seating. A large mound-shaped rock, representing the feminine energy of Shakti, stands over the stone phallus representing the Hindu god Shiva.
The shrine was probably created by Hindu Tamils that would have lived and worked on the tea estate, some families living in the now ruined ‘line building’ nearby. In the next phase, this area will be developed as a ‘healing zone’, the existing structure renovated as treatment rooms for massage and ayurvedic therapies. Rare ayurvedic and medicinal plants are being introduced for various preparations made on-site.
A more recently opened path now winds from the shrine back through the jungle, past another equally impressive Banyan tree. This shelters a shrine to The Buddha on some enormous boulders, which look like they previously formed part of an ancient human habitation. When evening events are held at Samakanda, these paths are lit with flares and clay lamps, creating an atmospheric ‘magical mystery tour’ through the jungle.