ROLLA : A SHADE THAT LINGERS


A tree that has travelled across the Arabian ocean from India as a small sapling.

A tree that has grown in a desert and lived more than 150 years.

A tree which is remembered until now by the older generation of a country.

A tree that has given shade to generations before its fall.

A tree that has inspired a statue in its honor .

It was a Banyan tree at Rolla Square, Sharjah. And Banyan is called Rolla locally.

In fact, a search for the meaning of Rolla has landed me to some information given here (you come across this word quite often in U.A.E as a street or square).

Rolla square in Sharjah is a famous locality where a unique memorial of a Rolla tree is built to honor the first Rolla/Banyan tree travelled from India to Uae in 1800’s and grown and served its purpose here in Sharjah until 1978 till its fall. The place it stood for years was called by its name and slowly became the heart of a desert city which spread to larger size over years.  Now Rolla square is the first thing to be mentioned when you talk about Sharjah. And that all started from a tree! Of course a tree is the greatest asset to a desert and that could be the reason a lone tree was admired this much and grown into a legend, and even inspired a statue in its memory.

See how a 65 year old local man gives its account, to the Daily “National”;

Ali al Shamsi, 65, stood recently before the statue of a tree – an unusual sight anywhere in the world, let alone the Arabian Peninsula, as he tried to explain how it came to be there.

“Here stood the biggest and greatest tree of the UAE,” Mr. al Shamsi said.

He grew up in the Rolla neighborhood, long before it transformed into Al Ghuwair market area. There used to be a single school, a few traditional homes, a store or two and a continuous flow of nomads and caravans who sought shelter from the beating sun.

“It was a common sight to see travelling families stopping by here to rest under the Rolla tree,” he said.

Every day after school, Mr. al Shamsi and his classmates would meet at the “special spot” before they headed home. “The tree was huge,” he said. “There were swings on its branches, which we all fought over, and we would climb it and have fun, and see the world from its top.

“All of us, including the animals, like cats and camels, would sit under it and enjoy its shade.”

(Courtesy: “The National”)

From these words, it is evident what this tree meant for them. A magic tree in the middle of a desert. And us, who cuts down many a tree all over this world on everyday basis, should look back to the legend of this tree and its memory lingering here at Rolla Square, to understand how dependant are we to nature and how we kills it.

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