Here's how to throw shade

Topiary of goodwill

No food, no flowers, only shade. Mysuru’s Hyder Ali Khan works on this principle. And Green Khan, Green Basha, Green Warrior, Tree Artist are some of the nicknames for this tree lover. He has mastered something unique. The goodwill tree art.

Here’s how it works. A green canopy is conceptualised, planned and nurtured systematically in such a way that the saplings grow into trees and spread branches horizontally to form a canopy of thick foliage.

This mission involves selecting the right saplings, planting them at a suitable gap, nurturing, and skilled pruning. After the plant grows to the desired height, the horizontal growth of the branches is induced by tying the branches to the trunk of the tree using plastic wires, and also by interlinking the branches of one tree with those of the neighbouring ones.

As the trees grow, the canopy extends. The result of several years of hard labour will be a cool and live green canopy, which is permanent. Regular cleaning and timely pruning are all the maintenance needed. An old Bajaj M80, a metal stand and a few garden equipment are his companions on his green mission.

Neatly manicured tree canopy is a spectacular sight to watch.

Hyder Ali Khan considers his tree art as god’s gift to him. He was once a fitter, and worked in a mechanical line for 27 years. But job satisfaction was far away. His soul was yearning to do something useful to mankind. He says, during his stint in Kolhapur in Maharashtra, one hot summer, he stopped by a tender-coconut vendor under the shade of a tree. While quenching his thirst there, an idea struck his mind: to grow trees that would offer people shade and in turn increase the much-needed green cover.

He returned to his native, Mysuru, and started the mission of creating a green shelter. Initially, no one bought his idea and everyone termed it insane.

However, after much persuasion, he got the green signal from the head of Farooquia College group, Taj Mohammed Khan, to provide one such green cover to the upper part of the Eidgah ground located behind the college.

In 1999, he planted 313 saplings of honge (Indian beech Tree) in the sprawling three-acre area of the ground. Today, for want of maintenance, only 100 trees remain.

Nevertheless, the area has been converted into a green shelter.

A total of 12,000 people can be accommodated here for prayers. He feels satisfied to see people offering Ramzan and Bakrid prayers under the trees.

He vows to replant the saplings wherever needed and increase the green cover. His work has been well appreciated and many have then understood his idea of hasiru chappara (green tent).

Hyder Ali Khan says honge, gasagase (Jamaican cherry) and kadu badami (Indian almond) are the three varieties of trees best suited to create a green canopy.

Gasagase is fast-growing and can form a green canopy in under two years, while kadu badami and honge need three and six years respectively to form one.

Temples, mosques, churches, schools, sports grounds and open markets are best suited for this project.

His ambition is to build such green tents at open markets for vegetable vendors. According to Khan, such green spaces will also increase the shelf-life of vegetables and fruits.

He also dreams of providing green canopy along highways so that the motorists can travel under shade. It’s a feasible idea as the trees can be grown to the desired height and width, he says. Hyder Ali Khan expects leaders and other officials to assign him such


So far he has planted 2,298 trees in and around Mysuru, and the number is increasing. He has documented, in a register, his projects.

Hyder Ali Khan’s masterpieces can be seen in front of many houses and shops in Mysuru.

The trend of tree art started by Green Khan is catching up in Mysuru.

His message to people is to plant one sapling on one’s birthday each year and nurture them.

If everybody does this, it will expand the green cover of the earth, he says.

Hyder Ali Khan, 65 now, wishes to continue for another 25 years!

He leads a happy life but just gets by from the meagre earnings from the tree art.

“The satisfaction I get is immense,” he smiles.

Contact Hyder Ali Khan on 9845159067 for green-cover projects.

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