The sunrays were rebelliously pressing through the cold air & the lovely Delhi winter felt perfect to start my much awaited nature walk. I was looking forward to explore nature, heritage, culture, architecture and arts through a curated walk around nature. Sounds interesting right?
Keeping this in mind, Sita was privileged to be able to adopt Safdurjung tomb by the Ministry of Tourism on October 25, 2017. Adopt a Heritage has been a great initiative to enhance the tourism potential and their cultural importance to develop the heritage sites/monuments. I was excited to explore Safdurjung tomb through a different medium, when I heard about a lady who curated these special nature walks. I found the concept very unique to be able to connect to nature while we revisit this magnificent Mughal architecture in Delhi.
I instantly connected with her & requested to be a part of a customized Safdurjung tomb tree walks. I took a metro straight to the Safdurjung station which turned out to be very comfortable ride. We had decided to meet at 12:00 so the weather was perfect as winters in Delhi are truly exceptional. I walked from the metro station to Safdurjung tomb and it was fascinating to see how Safdurjung tomb stood strong in its glory. The monument is built on a raised platform that lies in the centre and there are manicured gardens that are well maintained and complete a pretty picture.
Both of us exchanged greetings and her first question to me was “Mallyka how old do you think these trees would be? My first thought was that I have never thought in that direction whenever I have noticed rich line of trees along the roads and near the monuments. It sure looked magnificent as these beautiful monuments covered with nature are a treat to the eyes but we never go beyond that.
Kavita Prakash imbibed her love for trees through a Book by Pradeep Krishan on Trees of Delhi .She got inspired which led her to share her knowledge with others & in the course keep learning herself. As we walked around, my first experience was how lovely it was to put my hand on each tree’s bark and just reach out to it. The gardens are designed like a Charbagh – divided into four squares, pathways and tanks which are further divided into smaller squares. Vibrant flowers bloom at different times of the season and the monsoon time it must look heavenly with all the shades of green which would surround the tomb. The effect is almost enchanting and even surreal at times.
The passion with which each conversation took over to learn about the trees made me feel very enthusiastic. I was encouraged to observe & I found myself noticing some rather interesting facts. We came across a Ficus tree named “Goolar” which is a Fig bearing tree which is native to Delhi. The most wonderful thing about it is that it called a Repairian.I learnt on my walk that the Ancient Folk lore about this tree goes that it has a hidden stream which flows below it. After that we came across another interesting observation A pipal tree as an epiphyte which starts its life on another tree, I noticed that it was tightening its grip as it grew & was eventually going to kill it displaying a true example of what how we portray “Survival of the Fittest”. As we walked ahead I came across A Tree named Arjun which is known to have the most fascinating roots. It is called the “Palang Jad” means “Roots which engrave like the shape of a bed” which makes their grip extremely strong. It has a very widespread rooting system. Whereas right next to it was another beauty called the “Moulsari” known for its dense bush top & the gift of giving us mesmerizing fragrance. “Ittar” means “Traditional fragrance” is made from it & its flowers are used to adorning oneself.
I saw myself most intrigued by this Tree called “Dhak” which also is known as the Flame of the Forest due its beautiful red flowers called Palash. This tree is native to Delhi & a Pioneer Species in tolerating all the difficult conditions. It regenerates itself and other different plants start growing too as it spreads the feeling of wellbeing. In West Bengal, it is associated with spring celebration, especially through the poems and songs of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who described its bright orange flame-like flower to fire. In Santiniketan, where Tagore lived, this flower has become an indispensable part of the celebration of spring. The plant has lent its name to the town of Palashi, famous for the historic Battle of Plassey fought there. In the state of Jharkhand, Palash is associated with the folk tradition. Many folk literary expressions describe Palash as the forest fire.
This walk sparked my interest and took me one step closer to nature where everything quiet comes alive when you learn to observe a little deeper. I learnt how important nature is for mankind’s survival and set me off wanting to explore more.