Thursday, 16 May 2019

The Purple Rain of the Moulmein Rosewoods – A Photo Essay

Shanti Van - April 2019

If last year cruising down Mahrashi Raman Marg was a passing shower, today the walk through Shanti Van is a hazy drizzle that soon turns into Purple Rain. The weather app early in the morning indicates ‘Hazy’. A few hours later you realize it should have said ‘Purple Haze’!

Moulmein Rosewood (Millettia peguensis)

Moulmein Rosewood (Millettia peguensis) just like it’s pretty name is one of Delhi’s most beautiful flowering trees. Last year, in Lodhi Estate, you saw the charms of the tree for the first time as the main avenue tree. Some of the trees were tall and straight while others looked deciduous with widely spreading canopies. For a brief period in April, the tree becomes bare and gets draped in this diaphanous mauve mist as described by Pradip Krishen. Later you saw a grove of the trees in Mahavir Vanasthali looking as resplendant as 'Jewels on a String', a sobriquet which cannot be more perfect.

Last year as you walked through the scintillating Barna universe in Shanti Van, you knew that you had just missed the purple rain. And as always pre-ordained you arrive on the perfect day this year. Shanti Van probably has the largest concentration of the trees in Delhi. Even as the Palash trees burn orange bright, Pilkhans change colours every minute, the lone Siris perfumes the air; the Moulmeins ripple in the breeze showering the grounds with this this purple and mauve haze.   

There is something absolutely beautiful about the pearl like flowers. Sometimes they seem like porcelain glinting in the early sun. The flowers cascade down like necklaces adorning apsaras, shimmering and swaying in the cool breeze. And then with every gentle gust of the breeze the flowers drizzle down in a dream-like sequence.

Moulmein Rosewood or Jewels on a String is a legume tree species in the genus Millettia and belongs to the family Fabaceae. It is native to Myanmar and Thailand and does pretty well in Delhi’s dry climate. Lately, because of its ease of growing, Moulmein is being widely planted as an avenue tree with its shady canopy and beautiful flowers. Moulmein can be confused with Karanj or Pongam tree but the trees look quite different and Karanj flowers are much less conspicuous and certainly not massed as Moulmeins. The tree does not seem to have any medicinal uses and is probably used for its timber.

On the southern bank of the lake is a large grove. The ground is paved with purple gems. You have walked into the Nizam’s locker. There are necklaces dangling all around. You look up, the sky is a million twinkling mauve stars. You will just sit here on the grass for few moments. The flowers fall like pearl drops pitter-pattering. You are a part of this melodious song of this exquisite movie playing all around you.  

This is perhaps one the most beautiful sights of your city that is mostly reviled for all its modern age afflictions. This is an antidote. This is the elixir that makes the city still beautiful and the best place to be in.

Let’s walk through the Purple Rain and Let It Rain!

Jewels on a String

Shanti Van is full of Moulmeins

The Diaphanous Mauve Mist - Moulmein Rosewood

The Jewel Land - Moulmein Rosewood
The Purple Paved Grounds of Shanti Van

Everyone is bewitched with the jewels

Not just the flowers, even the leaves changing colours are as beautiful

The Fruit Pods of Moulmein Rosewood

Perfect Setting by the lake in Shanti Van, New Delhi - Moulmein Rosewood

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  1. Favorite tree for a Purple Pluviophile like me!

    You stand under these showers and you won't get wet yet your soul will be drenched. You won't need any umbrellas or raincoats. You can gaze at them swaying in the soft breeze, feel their purpley drizzle, enjoy that cool evening in their purple haze or just do a happy jig in tune with their moves!

    Let me feel your soft drizzle on my face.
    Let my whole being be one with you...
    Let me be wonderfully lost in your purple haze
    Let me love you for being you!

    1. Thanks Gits - nobody describes nature and trees like you do!

      Moulmeins are beautiful trees and i just wish they could bloom the entire summer.


    2. Well... I would have loved to accept this compliment, but I know someone else who does! 🤗

  2. lovely pictures Nirdesh. nice description and heartfelt comments :)

    1. Hi Siddeshwar, it is always nice to hear from you! Yes Delhi trees these days are giving me the same joy like the medieval tombs did few years ago. The trees lend such beauty to Delhi roads and parks. Thanks much for reading. Stay cool. Hoping for some respite from this heat wave. Cheers