Tuesday, April 08, 2014

G- Grand Gulmohars

G-GRAND GULMOHARS
Mobile musings - the theme for this A to Z
challenge features a blog with a picture
clicked by me on my mobile phone

In the sixteenth century a ship sailing across an island spotted a scarlet red forest amidst the blue sky.* The sailors were thirsty and hungry and an island with flora and fauna usually held the promise of fresh water and food.
They anchored the ship and shot at the first fowl that came their way and feasted over its meat. It was an innocent act out of desperation for food. Little did they know that a century down the line that species of bird that could hardly fly, which they shot dead would become extinct. Animal historians later called it the Dodo.

The scarlet red forest housed a variety of species of animals, birds and other living creatures. The scarlet colour came from its flowering trees Delonix Regia commonly known as the Gulmohar in India.
Grand Gulmohars
Picture shot on Iphone 4S
Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India
May 2013

Along with the sailors, what the other living creatures the  rats, cats and moneys  that inhabited the anchored ship took with them when they salied on from Madagascar  changed the landscape of many different countries four centuries down the line. The versatile and adaptive Gulmohar seed travelled far and wide ever since the discovery of the Madagascar island in 1506. 

The Gulmohar seed dispersed from there to Mauritius  by way of rat and cat droppings as well as pods that the sailors aimlessly collected during their stop overs at the Madagascar Island.

 When the French colony of Mauritius cleared way for sugar cane plantations, thousands of indentured workers  from the Indian sub-continent who slaved it out in those plantations, carefully nurtured and propogated the Grand Gulmohar  as an ornamental  tree  around their houses.

Two centuries later Gulmohar is the most widely used ornamental tree that lines the streets of many cities, heritage sites and buildings in many countries. It may have travelled to India from Mauritius through many sources and routes. Bangalore had the good fortune of getting its Gulmohars from the travelling French soldiers from Mauritius who allied with Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan in the Four Anglo –Mysore wars fought between 1818- 1899.  
Nandi hills a barren hillside in the 18th century took to the Grand Gulmohars and they grew in adundance over there. 


Grand Gulmohars
Picture shot on Iphone 4S
Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India
May 2013
Grand Gulmohars
Picture shot on Iphone 4S
Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India
May 2013



















Grand Gulmohars
Picture shot on Iphone 4S
Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India
May 2013



This picture was taken in the summer of 2013. An entire pathway that leads upto the hills from the plains is covered with Gulmohar trees.  A mobile phone camera does not quite do justice to covering that wide an angle.

But the view of this Gulmohar lined ascent to the Nandi Hills was breathtaking enough to register in our memories for a long time to come.

More often than not, what the soul sees, the camera cannot.

April and May are the months of Gulmohars. They paint the city red /orange. By the time the summer showers arrive, the grand gulmohars start withering away and lay a carpet of flowers on the road side that gets crushed and mushed up amidst traffic chaos on the ground that the flowering tree is oblivious to.




The pods of Gulmohar tree that carry the seeds are long and sturdy. When they dry up by June and as the afternoon monsoon winds blow,  they create a clattering sound that is impolitely referred to as the ‘Woman’s tongue’, as a reference to the constant and non-stop chatter that it emanates. 

By the beginning of the 21st century, the pods of the Gulmohar tree find scarce reference by that name except in hushed whispers in the gentlemen's rooms for the fear of getting caught for uttering sexist remarks. It will be said in history that the 21st century  marginally raised the overall male consciousness. This was three centuries since the extinction of that poor Dodo and several other species, the latest being the innocent and sweet House sparrow.

Watch out for H - House Sparrow  in tommorrow's post. 

2 comments:

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