City Season – The Amaltas, Bungalow Road
The yellow flowers of May.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The amaltas, or cassia fistula, starts to shed its leaves early in April. One of the most widespread forest trees of India, it flowers in May.
During this month in Delhi, the streets, roundabouts, avenues and parks glow with the yellow bloom of the Amaltas.
One dusty morning, The Delhi Walla walked down the Bungalow Road, a neighbourhood of gated residences in North Delhi. Both sides of the road were lined with the amaltas.
Dressed in yellow flowers, a branch was bending towards a dull-colored bungalow. Another tree was filled with birds. It looked as if black dots were smeared carelessly on a gold-coloured canvass.
The pavements, too, were carpeted with the fallen flowers. Some petals floated on the dirty water of a ditch.
The area’s child-sweeper was disposing off these heaps of yellow along with the discarded polybags accumulated during the previous day.
Environmentalist Pradip Krishen wrote in his book Trees of Delhi:
Amaltas is in danger of becoming (like the peacock) so common that we stop noticing it. Amrita Shergil Marg, Shanti Path and Akbar Road are lined with it. Shakti Sthal has many trees. Common as crows in every park and large garden, it is thinly scattered throughout the Ridge and in Jawaharlal Nehru University’s untended areas.
To see the amaltas in full bloom, you may also go to Hailey Road, near Connaught Place. You see the yellow flowers crawling up electric poles, snaking around notice boards, and falling silently on the ground.
The garden outside the ticket window of Humayun’s Tomb also presents a lovely sight. Once I saw a foreign woman in a strapless black gown walking nonchalantly across a path as the flowers of the amaltas fell on her. A group of Old Delhi women were pinning the plucked buds on each other’s hair.
In the 1960 film Mughal-e-Azam, prince Salim and courtesan Anarkali made forbidden love amid the fallen flowers of the amaltas.
Visit the Bungalow Road in the morning when the diesel fumes are at their minimum. It is the hour when the amaltas emits a truly lovely fragrance.
Where Bungalaw Road Nearest Metro Station Vishwavidyalaya (take a rickshaw from there) Best Time Early morning
Scenes from Bungalow Road
Once upon a time outside the Humayun’s Tomb
The amaltas in BK Dutt Colony
The classic look in Hailey Road
Scenes of the amaltas from Mughal-e-Azam
Back in Bungalow Road