Tree of life

Print edition : January 17, 2020

A section of the Avenue of Baobabs, or Baobab Alley, in Madagascar. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Tourists come from far and wide to stroll down Baobab Alley and gape at these trees that look more like sculpture than like trees. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

All baobabs look like they have been turned upside down, with their roots reaching for the sky. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

The fruit develops when the baobab tree is bereft of leaves. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

At a village, a fenced compound hosting a sacred baobab. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Lovers’ Baobab, some 3 km off the Kirindy-Morondava road. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Inside the trunk of a baobab tree. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

A sifaka lemur. The exotic primate is endemic to Madagascar. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Villages are often situated under massive baobabs. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Baobab fruits in a market in the coastal city of Morandava. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

A roadside eatery. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

A Malagasy woman in her home in Bekopaka village. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Water is scarce in many villages. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Tamarind in a market in Morandava. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

It is exhilarating to watch the sun disappear on the horizon while a row of baobabs stand sentinel. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

The entrance to the Kirindy forest reserve, 50 km north of Morondava. The baobabs on the road to the reserve seem slender and relatively young but those inside the reserve were bigger and taller. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

Another view of Baobab Alley. Photo: Sudha Mahalingam

The baobab is revered in Africa and Madagascar as a sacred and mystical tree. Baobabs can live for more than a thousand years and are perhaps among the oldest living things on the planet.
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