The ghost tree of Mirzapur

While the entire village is dusty and dry, the tree remains verdant. Locals strongly believe that the evil tree was solely responsible for all the happenings in the entire Ranga Reddy district.

The villagers have put up a fence around the tree which is known in local lingo as “Dayyala chettu” (ghost tree) in view of its notoriety  for harmful impact on  men and animals who come in  contact with it.

“It is the strangest tree I have seen in my entire life,” says Jahangir, a local farmer, whose land abuts the tree. The tree (could be either a peepul or flower-bearing social forestry tree) has dry leaves in rainy and winter season and turns green and blooms during summer.

“My great grand father had a paralytic stroke after touching the trunk of the tree and died after suffering for several months,” he recalls. Locals who took shelter under the tree to beat the heat have had serious health problems. Many have died.  “That is why we have fenced the tree with a notice that nobody should enter the area and touch the tree”, says Venkateswarlu, a local farmer.

As reports of evil effects of the ghost tree spread, people from Telangana and northern Karnataka regions started visiting the area. Interestingly, those who tried to allay the fears of the locals were also superstitious.

Mahbub Ali, an enterprising Muslim cleric from Gulbarga, set up a Dargah near the tree, offering special rituals to ward off the evil impact of ghost tree.

“The tree is incarnation of the devil himself and hence no one dares to go near it either during day or night and locals do not discuss about it all”, claims Mahbub Ali.

But radicals and non-believers contend that the tree did not have any magic or medicinal impact. Activists of the Jana Vignana Vedika, an NGO campaigning against superstition, contend that land sharks have spread the “story” about the ghost tree to scare away buyers and bring down the spiraling prices of real estate properties.

Mallesh, the Vedika activist, says that Jehangir and other farmers were not rightful owners of the lands around the tree and hence spread such rumours to scare away the buyers.

Dr A B S Murty, a retired botany professor, pointed out that certain tree like Magnolias, Varnish trees, and Golden trumpet tree (Tabebuia chrysotricha) flower in summer mostly between June and September. The innocent villagers might have found this phenomenon strange and believed that the tree is a ghost tree, he adds.  

Strange trees are several in Andhra Pradesh but mostly known for their longevity and size. Worshipping a huge banyan tree in Mahbubnagar district is known to beget children. A tamarind tree in the Srisailam temple of Shiva bears jasmine flowers. A huge tree in forests of Nalgonda resembled a snake.

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