Datun Sahib is the name of a tree in the main bazaar at Leh, Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji visited this site around 1517.
The ancient 'sacred' Datun tree, well known around the city as Datun (Miswak) Sahib, which many people believe is the biggest and oldest tree tree alive, was actually planted by Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji during his missionary travels or Udasis.
Considered to be sacred by the city's residents, regardless of their religion, the tree was the first tree to grow in the area. Guru Nanak was revered by both Buddhists and Muslims alike.
At the time of the Guru's visit the high desert had no trees as only small shrubs and bushes would grow at the high, arid altitude, but Guru Nanak blessed the city with greenery by planting a meswak tree. Today the Guru's sapling has grown to be the biggest tree in the city.
There is no Gurdwara building at the site, but the remains of a large meswak tree are located behind the Jamia Masjid in the main bazaar at Leh. The Datun Sahib is located close to the Leh Palace, on a lane which mainly houses bread makers. A small board relating the history of the Guru's visit and his planting of the young neem tree has been erected on a fence, which encircles the tree.
Along with the fence and signboard a Nishan Sahib has been erected by the local Sikh Sangat (community). Though the sign states that the Gurdwara PraBandak Committee of Leh-Ladakh is maintaining the site, the tree itself is in need of immediate maintenance as its condition is deteriorating daily.
This meswak tree is a reminder of the abiding message of Guru Nanak, to spread greenery and harmony all around. There are two main Singh Sabha Gurdwaras located within a kilometer of the site.
In India the Datun, also called the Neem tree, has often been referred to as the 'village pharmacy'; its antibiotic and germ killing abilities have long been known in Ayurvedic medicine. The people of India have long revered the tree, as daily millions use neem twigs to clean their teeth. One of India's richest men has built a fortune in no small part on his business which uses the tree's sap as a natural insecticide for agricultural use.
The notice board at the site of the tree mentions;
"Sacred Tree" known as "Datun (Miswak) Sahib" is everlasting memory of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji (Rimpoche Lama) the great prophet who sanctified this place during his sacred visit during the year 1517 while on his second missionary tour (2nd udassi 1515-1518). He put this datun (miswak) here which became a huge tree in Ladakh area where there was no tree at that time. This sacred tree is well known among our Muslim and Buddhist brethren for its sacredness. The aim of Guru Ji was to establish greenery in the highest desert of the world as well as in the hearts of human beings.
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