Botanical name:Platanus orientalis Family:Platanaceae (Chinar family)
Chinar is a very large, widespreading, and long-lived deciduous tree. The native range of Chinar includes at least Eurasia from the Balkans to the Himalaya in the east. Its leaves are borne alternately on the stem, deeply 3, 5 or 7 lobed, and palmate or maple-like, with coarsely toothed margins. It usually has flaking bark, occasionally not flaking and becoming thick and rugged. Flowers and fruit are round and similar to those of Kadam, borne in clusters of between 2 and 6 on a stem. The leaves and bark have been used medicinally. A fabric dye has been made from the twigs and roots. The timber, often called lacewood, is figured and valuable for indoor furniture. From earliest days, Chinar has been an important tree in Persian gardens, which are built around water and shade. An tiny island in the Dal lake in Sringa r, is called Char-Chinar because of the four Chinar trees there. Chinar tree is an integral part of Kashmiri culture. Almost every village in the valley has a Chinar tree.
|Photographed in Srinagar, Kashmir.|
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Autumn in Kashmir is synonymous with harvest and glorious Chinar trees
A view of the Chinar trees at Kashmir University in Srinagar. PHOTOS : HAZIQ QADRI
Autumn, also known as Harud locally, is the annual harvesting season in Kashmir. As the leaves in the valley turn yellow and golden, the farmers return to their fields to harvest paddy and saffron and pick various varieties of apples for export.
The entire valley is bathed in different hues of red, orange and gold during these months and a large number of tourists visit the area before the weather becomes excruciatingly cold. Children run around excitedly, trampling leaves and playing cricket under the shade of the mighty Chinar — which is considered a sign of resistance in the area. It is said that during the Mughal era in Kashmir, one of the kings stepped over the Chinar leaves during autumn. Fascinated by their bright red colour, he asked one his ministers, “Chi Naar”, which translates to, “What is this fire?” And during these few months, right before winter in Kashmir, it seems as if the flames are touching the ground.
A girl rides a cycle in Srinagar. PHOTO: Haziq Qadri
A boy rides a cycle in Srinagar. PHOTO: Haziq Qadri
A girl walks on fallen Chinar leaves at Kashmir University in Srinagar. PHOTO: Haziq Qadri
Locals burn Chinar leaves at Kashmir University in Srinagar. PHOTO: Haziq Qadri
Children play cricket in the outskirts of Srinagar. PHOTO: Haziq Qadri
Haziq Qadri is a Kashmir-based photojournalist. He tweets @haziq_qadri
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, November 30th, 2014.