City Landmark – The Summertime Pilkhan Tree, Feroz Shah Kotla
The perfect eye candy.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The blistering hot April is actually the kindest month. The world is now teeming with a kind of extraordinary beauty that you don’t have to seek by driving all the way to the hills of Nainital or Mussoorie. It’s lurking right here in our very own hapless city. Such as this spectacular tree—you have to see to believe it.
This gigantic Pilkhan stands like an unvanquished sultan in the ruins of Feroz Shah Kotla, the fortress of Ferozabad, the fifth city of Delhi whose stones were used to build the foundations of Old Delhi. Sightseers visit this sprawl of history to survey its bleak monuments. The haunting remains of the great Jami mosque particularly evoke a sense of deep loss. So does the damaged Ashokan Pillar.
However, at this time of the year, the magnificent bloom of Pilkhan tree makes it tough to register the surrounding gloom. Celebrated as one of Delhi’s most beautiful shade trees with dangling roots, the leaves of Pilkhan are deemed sacred in Hindusim and are used in prayers along with the leaves of peepal, vata, gular and mango.
This hot afternoon, the Pilkhan of Feroz Shah Kotla is shining fluorescent green. Impossible to believe that the tree was without a single leaf just a month ago (see the photo!). Strolling under its fresh canopy is like being in a dense forest. The cool shade provides an instant escape from the cruel heat. Ideally, one ought to spend an entire day here with books, cucumbers and a thermos full of shikanji.
Now, a boy appears and starts doing acrobatics in front of the tree. It’s like experiencing magic-realism in real life. Delhi experience is incomplete without offering respects to this grand gracious tree, and in this season.