The residents of Uttarakhand’s picturesque hill town of Almora woke up to a disheartening sight after famous 40 feet high Bougainvillea tree and its supporting Devdar tree collapsed due to overnight heavy rains on Wednesday morning.

The Bougainville tree which was about 30-years old had grown over a century old Devdar tree near GB Pant Park in Almora’s Chaughanpata area.

The two trees often termed by local as a ‘beautiful love affair’ had become the identity of Almora and emerged as a very popular tourist destination.

Ever since the news broke out that the two iconic trees had collapsed, locals started gathering at the spot for a last glimpse.

Nitin Singh Bhadauria, district magistrate Almora termed the incident as a “big loss for the region as it had become a part of everyone’s life.”

“The incident happened at around 7 in the morning. The beautiful Bougainvillea tree which was about 30-years-old had grown over the Devdar tree which was more than 100-years-old and from the British era. Due to the heavy rains, the latter collapsed on the ground taking down the Bougainvillea along with it,” said Bhadauria.

The DM said ‘fortunately there was no loss of property or life in the incident.’

“But, it’s like the soul of the city has died. There will always be a sense of emptiness whenever anyone will pass from that spot. As of now, local authorities are trying to clear the road by removing the fallen trees from the road. A large number of locals have gathered there to have one last glimpse of the two trees which were the identity of Almora,” he said.

The locals gathered at the spot were quietly witnessing the clearing of collapsed trees from the road, mourning the loss.

“Locals called it a beautiful love affair between two trees. They were dear to every single soul living in Almora. The spot was like a landmark of the city but now when they are no more, it’s like a family member has passed away,” said Paritosh Joshi a resident of Almora.

Another local Hemendra Chauhan said, “The void created by the loss will never be filled. We all have memories with them from our childhood “

“The century-old Devdar tree was fully covered in the flowers of the Bougainvillea. It was so popular that if you Google Almora, you will definitely see pictures of the two in full bloom,” said Chauhan.

Considering the significance of the trees, the district administration said it will try to ‘at least restore the Bougainvillea tree there.’

DM Bhadauria said, “We are in talks with GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment (NIHE) and Vivekananda Parvatiya Krishi Anusandhan Sansthan based in Almora for their expertise in restoring the Bougainvillea tree which still has its roots intact in the ground. We are hopeful it will re-grow to its size in 3-4 years. However, as the Devdar tree has completely collapsed, we will see what could be done with it.”

RS Rawal, director of GB Pant NIHE confirmed that the Bougainvillea tree ‘could be restored but there will be issues with its support system.’

“Bougainvillea being a hard species can re-grow if its roots are intact. However, in this case, there will be an issue of providing a support base like the now collapsed Devdar tree. I have not visited the spot yet but will need to first analyse the remaining condition of the Bougainvillea before saying to what extent it could re-grow,” said Rawal.

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