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Sabli Gaon, Chamba district, Uttarakand
Start Date:
Apr, 2010

Dunagiri is proud to present one of our most unique and successful projects to date. Tejbal, literally meaning 'The power of brilliance,' has a strong spiritual and historical significance in India dating back thousands of years. The danda, or walking staff of Tejbal, has been carried by sadhus and sages for millennia, and was placed over the doorways in villages to ward away evil spirits, practices that continue in present day. Tejbal is on the endangered species list, and The Dunagiri Foundation, in alliance with Himalaya Consortium of Himalayan Conservation (HIMCON), is making the first attempt of its kind to cultivate Tejbal inside of India. We believe that Tejbal has great promise for successful cultivation in mid-altitude Himalaya (1000-2200m), an area that is now being economically devastated as it is ridden with either drought or landslides due to excessive rains, not to mention that over 30% of the villages have been displaced due to massive hydroelectric dam projects. We are very grateful for the impressive and professional work carried out by the HIMCON team, and look forward to future joint venture projects.

Dunagiri Alliance with Himalaya Consortium of Himalayan Conservation (HIMCON)

Through the grace of Vivek Dewan, Chief Trustee of Dunagiri Foundation, he introduced Prashanti and Vajra to the HIMCON team and a great alliance was formed. HIMCON Trust, established by the late Dr. M.L. Dewan in 1998, has been doing conservation work in the Himalaya in regards to village improvement projects, women empowerment, and tree nursery development. Manoj Pande, now Chief Trustee of HIMCON and Rakesh Bahuguna who manages the HQ in Sabli, Garhwal have become such great friends and allies to the Dunagiri Team. It is organizations like HIMCON who have established themselves as integral organizations in Himalaya, that allow organizations like our own to be able to actualize the potential of our goals. Soon, we will discussing with HIMCON the future of Tejbal as well as setting up other projects related to the post-processing of medicinal herbs to insure their quality and hygiene. Finding like-minded charitable organizations with whom we can join forces will be a key to success of Dunagiri.

Tejbal's Medicinal Properties

Tejbal, or locally called Timru in Garhwal Himalaya is a highly potent medicinal plant.  From the bark, to the leaves, to the seed casings, Tejbal packs a powerful punch in the medicinal world. In fact, the name Timru means 'powerful'. The genus Zanthoxylum DC.(Rutaceae) comprises ca.200 species of aromatic deciduous and evergreen prickly tree, shrubs and sub-climbers native to warm temperate subtropical region of the world and 13 species are reported in India. The genus is well known for their medicinal and aromatic properties and is used as medicinal plant and source of pharmaceutical, cosmetic and spices raw material. Out of these, Zanthoxylum armatum and Z. acanthopodium used in the treatment of toothache, removal of intestinal and external worms, constipation in the region and are cultivated for marketing purposes. Vajra Ashara, founder of Dunagiri, has extensive experience with Tejbal, developing his own toothpowder formula, making ghee and oil infusions for treatment of rashes, and other skin irritation conditions. Also, the powder of the seed casings is a strong medicine to rid the tortured stomach of parasites and worms. Not to mention that Vajra also carried a Tejbal danda for many years in his Himalaya wanderings, and it seems to have served his path well. There are still many experiments to explore in regards to the medicinal properties and uses of Tejbal, and both Vajra and Prashanti love the laboratory and formula concoctions aspect of the work.

Collection of Seeds

The Project started by collecting several different varieties of seeds from different regions of Himalaya. Vast research was carried out by HIMCON and affiliates to make sure that seeds were harvested from healthy trees at the right time of year to guarantee the success of our work.

Propagation Methods

Even more extensive research was done to experiment with different methods of seed germination, as well as starting from cuttings. These different case study groups were closely monitored to see which methods worked the best, so for the future we will be able to educate and set up similar projects all over Himalaya region. Rakesh Bahuguna and his team were very successful in their attempts and discovered the most promising methods, however this took months of patience and extreme care waiting for the first sprouts to poke above the surface in the polyhouse beds.

Preparation of Land

The next major phase in the project required preparing fields donated by HIMCON for this demonstration project. There is roughly one acre of steep terraces that have been unused for many years, thus there was retaining walls to build, extensive weeding and tilling, application of compost, and the preparation of holes for transplanting. 

Water Source and Irrigation

We are very blessed with a beautiful small spring on the property that will be the source of water for our saplings to survive after the transplant. A holding tank was built to enable us to store the water needed to daily tend to our saplings.

Polyhouse/ Nursery Progress and Results

After experimenting with several methods of seed germination and propogation from cuttings, it was determined that cuttings were an unsuccessful method as there was only 10-20% of mortality rate. Of the several methods we used for seed germination, the method by which the seeds were washed and coated in ash, and then sewn have now give us a 90% success rate of germination, and thus we have a project we can promote and grow with.

We continue to collect small batches of seeds from differnt regions and villages to experiment with all the types and varieties, and now the surounding villagers are starting to ask about our project and want to get involved.

Transplanting of Tejbal

We are so pleased to announce that after 2+ years of work, our saplings have finally been transplanted into their new home. It will still be 3 to 4 years before we are able to harvest plant material to be used for medicine, however this nursery will be a source of seed for further projects as well as proof that it can be cultivated in hopes it will encourage neighboring villagers to take interest.

Project Goals
  • Support the physical, social and financial wellness of Himalayan communities and ecosystems.
  • Support the survival of this precious species so renown for millennia.
  • Establish Dunagiri as a trusted ally to the villagers and tribals of the Himalayas.  Regardless of what intentions are initially presented, most NGOs in the Himalayas end up exploiting the people and often do more harm than good.  Thus it is vital that we earn and establish a reputation for being a rewarding ally to the Himalayan people and ecosystems
  • Establish Tejbal as an economically viable crop that will support the Himalayan people financially and medicinally.
  • Establish an ethical supply chain between consumers worldwide and sustainable sources of potent medicinal herbs.
  • Create an excellent prototype model/example of a successful Himalyan Herb Farm.  Rakesh is impeccably thorough not just in all his procedures and steps, but also in the documentation of what has been accomplished and what is scheduled to be completed.  By documenting his documentation we are together creating a very high standard/model of predictable excellence that all the growers we work with will be advised to follow.
  • Add another legendary herb to the list of potent medicines that Dunagiri can offer the world