City Season – Bougainvilleas in Bloom, Vasant Vihar
The pink season.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Whatever else is going on in the world, there’s something that shouldn’t be missed at this time of the year.
To be specific — the flowering of gorgeous bougainvilleas cannot be ignored.
Two of these illustrious trees are now in full bloom in Lodhi Gardens, attracting any number of lovers and loners, appreciatively lounging under their shade.
All plants have history. This one mainly originated in South America — where they were discovered by the troupe accompanying the 18th century French Admiral Louis Antoine de Bougainville who was sailing around the world.
The flowers were eventually replanted in Europe and elsewhere, but just when the bougainvilleas first found their way to India is not clear.
The gorgeous lushness of the Lodhi Garden’s two bougainvilleas has already been celebrated on these pages and yet you are urged once again to pay them a respectful audience. In any event, that park is not the only vantage point for spotting these lovely species. The wealthy Delhi enclave of Vasant Vihar offers another opportunity. At one home, in particular.
The bungalow on Vasant Marg near a Delhi Public School is literally draped with them, like a huge bouquet. Its balcony has turned into a “waterfall” of bougainvilleas. The guard’s cabin outside the gate too stands flooded with these pink and red flowers. Since this is a private property, the best tip is to simply walk casually past the house while admiring the growth from a discreet distance.
The neighbourhood, in fact, is adorned with bougainvilleas, which are reflected on the windshields of parked cars, serving as frames for pure art. While the flowers look extraordinary, their beauty is illusionary. If you touch them, they feel as dead as paper. If you smell them, you smell nothing. Bougainvilleas seem to have nothing but the colour.
To be sure, bougainvilleas spring up all across Delhi these days. Indeed, the city’s brute heat and bad air is most suited to these flowers, which grow best if the air is warmer and smoggier.
Since Vasant Vihar is near the airport, one is liable to see the occasional plane that appears to be headed straight into bougainvillea shrubs. The sight is surreal.
Colors sans smell
7. (Lodhi Garden)