City Nature – The Spring Flowers of Semal, Subz Burj Tomb
This season’s prince.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Basically it is just a soft thud on the grassy ground—The Delhi Walla means the ceaseless falling of red semal flowers.
The blooming of the semal marks the arrival of the brief spring season in Delhi. It is that unusual time in the city when it is not hot, not cold, and also not humid. It is just perfect and the red semal flowers epitomize this shift towards the ideal.
I’m walking under the three semal trees at the Subz Burj monument in central Delhi. A 16th century tomb to an unidentified figure in history, the monument is also known as Neela Gumbad due to its blue dome.
Today, the memorial has been reduced to a traffic circle. To most of us, Subz Burj and its circular grassy ground are merely the place where Lodhi Road intersects Mathura Road. But look at it again, especially in this season.
Indeed, I urge you before it gets too late, to celebrate the short-lived Delhi spring by spending at least an hour at Subz Burj. These days the whole ground of this ‘traffic circle’ is carpeted with semal’s fleshy slippery petals. Small mounds of dead leaves and flowers are piled up one after the other.
The monument’s security guard, Anant Kumar, expresses sympathy for the sweeper who had swept off the flowers only a few hours ago. The guard then thoughtfully walks upon the flowers—he has no choice, there are flowers everywhere.
Of course, many other places in Delhi also offer the breathtaking sight of semal in bloom—Neeti Marg is lined with those trees, and Teen Murti Bhawan has two giant semal trees in its central lawn.
This Subz Burj traffic circle, however, with its centuries-old monument, appears to offer the most intense semal experience in the capital. It is a necessary place to greet the fleeting spring.
Flowers of spring