If we find value in beauty, then our culture must be sensitive to the preservation of all beauty in any form. A teak tree provides shade and longevity and wood from the tree will protect us if we accommodate its living.
Ancient Indians, who in their patriarchal wisdom equated a tree to ten sons, knew the importance of trees in the web of life. So did the founders of Connolly’s Plot, the oldest surviving teak plantation in the world, when they chose to etch out these lines on the basement of a 150-year-old giant teak tree.
For centuries, teak was harvested from natural forests of Nilambur and transported through rivers to various places and even exported to Arabia. Though it had diverse applications, the ship building industry was the major one. In the colonial period, ship building flourished to meet Royal Navy demands. The introduction of railways created an additional demand for wood. Incidentally, the railway line connecting Nilambur to Shoranur junction was constructed only to transport teak from Nilambur forests to Cochin and other harbours. Since the availability of teak from natural forests was not adequate, the idea of raising plantations was considered by the British.
A teak tree can live up to 400 years. The stump of a teak tree exhibited at the teak museum in Nilambur is 450 years old considering the number of annual rings. Teak saplings are grown in nurseries for a year before they are planted. They are protected from weeds at the initial stages to avoid stunted growth, owing to the shade.
We can take valuable lessons from the biological longevity of teak.
We can find a direct link between caring and strength and lean how a year of tending can bring on 400 years of living wonder.