Semal, Kachnar, Flame of the Forest–hall bearers of a fleeting Delhi Spring, how evocative are your gorgeous blossoms, which are randomly bestowed on gardens, sidewalks, wheezing buses and push carts…
While the weather is still lovely in Delhi, it’s the best time to spend your days outdoors and soak in the enchantment of this multi-layered, historical city in the perky ambiance of late spring. It’s a time when all your sensory vibes are on high alert to get rejuvenated, inspired and edgy with optimism and the joy of being alive. The city gardens are bursting with colours and scents; roadside eateries are rustling up good business with the cold spell definitely behind us and people are back on the streets; citizens are gravitating again to art shows and craft bazaars; birdsong rents the air as everywhere birdies are merrily building nurseries with twigs and lichens while keeping a hawk eye for aerial predators; silks and woollies are getting stored away and crisp cottons, capris and crop tops adorn wardrobe shelves. Yes! It’s definitely a time to indulge your senses at so many levels, before the punishing summer arrives to drive us back again to the cool comfort of aircon rooms and offices.
Celebrating Holi the Sufi way
Music, colour and the very essence of spiritual reawakening await visitors at the famous shrine of a Sufi Saint who resided in Delhi in the 13th century. A date with the Dargah of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Aulia is a must for the culture buff. The celebration of the spring festival of Holi as played out at the dargah will be one of your most memorable sensory takeaways of this historic city. Basant Panchmi, the heralding of spring, and Holi, beloved by both Nizamuddin Auliya and his disciple poet Amir Khusrau, have become intrinsic to celebrations at the Dargah. Basant Panchami marks the first day of a 40-day spring segueing into the festival of Holi. The great poet himself has penned some memorable lines on Holi and its connection with the divine.
Kheluungii Holi, Khaaja ghar aaye,
Dhan dhan bhaag hamare sajni,
Khaaja aaye aangan mere
(I shall play Holi as Khaaja has come home, blessed is my fortune, o friend, as Khaaja has come to my courtyard).
Rather than playing with synthetic colours Holi devotees at the Dargah dressed in yellow attire celebrate it with mustard flowers and other yellow petals. An unmissable musical treat for which you must linger here are the Thursday night qawwalis, Sufi devotionals, an over 700-year-old legacy here. Later wander through the maze of streets alive with the syncretic culture of devotion that radiates from the beloved Sufis saint’s final resting place. The frenetic energy of this continuously inhabited urban village will blow you away with its atmospherics.
Garden of Five Senses
Wander to your heart’s content exploring the historic remains of an older Delhi at the Qutub Complex and the adjoining Mehrauli Archaeological Park which features sites dating from the Pre-Islamic to the Colonial phase, including remnants of the first city of Delhi, which served as the capital of the Tomars in the 11th century. Having had your fill of this plenitude of built-up heritage head out for the Garden of Senses at Said-ul-Ajaib village near Mehrauli, to gaze upon a world of soothing verdure and lose yourself in a range of enticing innovative sensory experiences. Spread over 20 acres the garden complex includes the Khas Bagh, a formal garden along the lines of a Mughal Garden with water channels and flowering and fragrant shrubs and trees. You can follow the Trail of Fragrance leading to a rocky ridge along its northern edge; Neel Bagh the lily pool; the Colour Gardens -comprising compositions of flowering shrubs and ground covers; the Courts of Specimen Plants with its display of bamboo, cacti and herbs. It also offers a display of interesting sculptures and murals and a ‘solar park’. The Garden Festival is a much-awaited event as are several musical concerts held over the year.
A vibrant wonderful world of sensory delights Dilli Haat offers a thrilling showcase of arts, crafts and culinary persuasions from different regions in the country. What’s lovely is that at some time or the other it also stages cultural programmes from the different states. This micro-India is just the place to be when the weather in Delhi is in a benign mood. Shop for souvenirs and gifts while marvelling at the colours and textures that will win your hearts and empty your pockets. Indulge your taste buds at the scattering of outdoor eateries with some of the most delicious cuisines across India. It’s a great spot for people watching and soaking up the vibes of India’s astonishing cultural diversity.
The exuberance of a Delhi spring makes up for all those nasty boiling hot summer months. Is it any wonder that Dilliwallhas cherish those wonderful experiences of being out and about sampling the delights of nature, gathering around with friends in old markets and coffeeshops , mingling with the crowds at garden festivals and music shows – in all that too brief season.