Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photo Essay - Amaltas Trees, Hailey Road

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Colour Me Yellow

The best part of Delhi summers.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It is always good when the temperature crosses the 40-degree mark. It is then that amaltas flowers start blooming and mind you, they remain in full bloom only during the months of May and June.

So if you happen to be in Delhi during this time of the year, just leave your air-conditioned room and hit the road — Hailey Road, that is. This quiet stretch of a road near Connaught Place is, at the time of writing this piece, glowing on both sides in a spectacular sprinkling of gold. Thanks to the amaltas tree (Cassia fistula L.).

But why should you care?

"In peak summer, the sky is hazy grey, the air dusty and everything is tiresome," says Mr Kunal Chatterjee, a student of Indian classical music. "But the cheery sight of amaltas invigorates the senses."

Yes, trees can be cool. Native to India, amaltas is noted for its yellow flowers that blossom only when the weather gets hot. As if nature is compensating for its intolerable heat.

During the hot months, you inevitably come across these dazzling bursts on any Delhi street, but there is a reason why I'm asking you to take a walk down Hailey Road. There, the sight is incredible — rows of amaltas trees; yellow flowers entwined with the green leaves of the peepal; flowers crawling up electric poles, snaking around notice boards, falling like snow flakes onto the ground, covering it with a golden-hued carpet.

No wonder these trees are also referred to as golden shower and golden rain. And yes, while on the walk, don't skip the giant amaltas growing out of the guards' barrack at the Iranian embassy.

"The most remarkable feature about amaltas is that it is still a wild tree with wild genes and wild characters," says Mr Pradip Krishen, the author of the bestselling book Trees of Delhi. "Gardeners and horticuturists are an interfering bunch of people and tend to select and breed for large, showy flowers or prettier foliage or better fragrance or some such character and so it's rare to see a cultivated tree in a city like Delhi that remains true to its wild form.”

Mr Krishen's guess is that amaltas is still hundred per cent wild, and that all its lovely characters are exactly as you will find them in dry, deciduous jungles across the breadth of the Indian subcontinent.

Amaltas has other uses, too, though not that aesthetic. Its roots, bark, seeds and leaves are used as a purgative to make one vomit and, well, also as a laxative. But on Hailey Road, you just focus on its look.

"But don't let its flowers blind you to its fragrance," advises Mr Krishen. "You'll probably have to find a way of taking a deep sniff when the diesel fumes are at their minimum but the amaltas emits a truly lovely scent, especially in the morning." We'll try waking early.

Where Hailey Road, opposite Modern School, Barakhamba Best time Morning Other places to see Amaltas Rajghat, Nehru Park, Amrita Shergill Marg, BRT corridor

Click here to read another story on the Amaltas.

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Iranian embassy building, Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

It's the Season

Incredible? (Hailey Road)

Colour Me Yellow

Incredible? (Nizamuddin East)

It's the Season

Incredible? (Nehru Park)



pee said...

Amaltas is my favourite season of the year.

Anonymous said...

Mr.Soofi, you have made me happy by bringing Amaltas to me in these photos. I recommend you go to the nearest sweets shop (OM sweets or Bikanerwala) and eat ras-milai, jalebi, dhokla, kalakand and samosas. You are the best !

LumousP said...

Loved the pics, Austen.
and yes, here it, or may be some other closely resembling tree, grows without the temperature being so grossly cruel.

Anonymous said...


Abhishek Parashar said...

Cool stuff but if you want to see how Amaltas add beauty to a city - Chandigarh is the place to be.

Cheers !!!

Putra Bertam Malaysia said...

New Delhi just a awesome, I love Dehli..........

Janani Raj said...

i walked down haliey road just yesterday! awesome to see the pics posted today

Prasenjit said...

Thanks Mayank for those beautiful pics. We too are surrounded by amaltas and what we call `krishnachuda' (don't know the English or Hindi for it), that bloom in bright reddish color. Summer has its charms too. And we are still waiting for the delicious mangoes.

You are invited to visit us, Mayank...

nasha said...

hey super coverage :) i love my city & its heartening to see your blog.

Bharti said...

Hey Mayank...your observation is just awesome..loved the photo essay...Thanks for posting such beautiful pics on your blog... Miss my stint with HT City...

Ibanov, Sir Rekaf said...

Amaltas trees are there all over the city. Example: Right outside my house, Vasant Vihar

Grace Personified said...

This made me like you so much more! In the four years that I have been here, no one ever wrote about this beautiful tree. Thank you :)

sneha said...

since childhood ..i have been admiring this tree...it looks like golden grapes....hanging frm the branch and it has always tempted me.....
ans it's smell is really awsum and during early morning walks it refreshes the mind.....as a child i always use to think that y it's leaves are not as pretty as the flowers but..later in my life i have realised tht "u don't need to be beautiful to do beautiful work, to bear beutiful flower u need to do hardwork [leaves make food for tree] and u should cultivate in urself ability to give birth to beautiful deeds ..outword appearance is not all ..ONLY inner beauty and hardwork can give birth to BEAUTIFUL output.....like our Amlatas gives beautiful flowers.....

Ayesha said...

Hello!! I am told that the long Chocolate brown seeds that hang from the Amaltas trees are good for loosing weight, if you all have any information about it, I would like to know more. You boil a 3 inch long seed and drink half glass in the morning and half at night. Please add more to my info if you know more. Thanks

Vishal said...

7 out of 10

avg to some nice pics

boring titles, pls be creative, come on MAS you an artist, give individual titles, do not repeat titles as each pic has a different characer of its own, e.g. pic with auto rickshaw can have a title akin to "The Magic of Green - Yellow on Yellow"

sonya said...

Wow I guess we should plant more and more Amaltas accross India :-)

AKSA said...

@sonya: Yep! Can't beat the Indian Laburnum in the context of putting up a summer spectacle. Also, the Chandigarh Laburnum spectacle is the one to beat :-)

Anonymous said...