The Trees of Delhi

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Overlooking the “greenery” from a viewing point with the Qutab Minar in the background.

There is tree coverage all over this massive city.  It is incredible to see the old, beautiful trees and when you can get up on a rooftop or higher viewing point within Delhi, you look out and think, “Wow, is there really that much green in this city?”  It amazes me each time I see it.  Trees in Delhi are very important and I will share a  little about the love Delhi has for her trees.

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Many trees in Delhi have quite a history and they are beautiful!  This tree is on the Red Fort historical site and could share some great stories if he could talk.

The trees in India are LOVED and some of that stems to the Hindu religion.  Some trees are representative of certain Hindu gods and have spiritual significance.  The Indian people also value the great medicinal importance they gain from these trees.  For example the Neem tree’s bark is used for brushing teeth and cleaning breath.

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Forget the toothbrush and tooth paste.  One street vendor selling Neem tree branches for teeth hygiene.

The Peepal tree has such spiritual significance that you will often find it with red ties around its trunks and statues/pictures of a Hindu god placed at its base.  It is also believed to protect from the “evil eye” and prevent bad dreams.

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A peepal tree with several Hindu statues laid at its base.

A specific basil plant must be planted in a certain piece of pottery and only designated people of the household are allowed to water the plant.
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In the Pottery Village I toured, this potter was finishing up the clay pot that is used only for this special Basil plant that has religious significance.

As millions of people live in this ever growing city and firewood being an important cooking and heating element to certain sections of the population, Delhi has learned to protect her trees.  How do they do this?  Well, the numbering system seems to be one way.  One can drive down roads and see numbers painted on many of the trees.  A second way of protecting those trees is making it illegal to decide to cut down a tree if it is on your personal property.  An owner can go through an extensive process requesting to remove a tree but the end result is usually a “no” for approval.  But what if that tree is bringing up the sidewalk or driveway?  Well, the tree definitely has rights here.  Let me give you an example of how protected they are here.

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Numbered trees are a common site ensuring they are not being removed.

This past month, The Times of India newspaper, did a write up on a road in South Delhi that is trying to be widened from 2 lanes to 4 lanes.  (Let me say that the traffic is so backed up here in New Delhi, that the need for that 4 lane road is not even a question.)  So, as the city has contemplated the removal of trees to build this road, they have chosen to risk thousands of lives driving on these streets to save 35 trees that reside in the middle of the road.  As a result we have a road that is more like an obstacle course than city driving.   Warning signs have been placed around trees and reflective paint to help in the evening, but these trees have caused accidents, traffic jams and forced speed reductions to avoid driving into the trees.  Tyler drives this section of road on his way to work and each day both he and the driver have a laugh over the odd decision to leave all these trees throughout the road.

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Near our neighborhood where they just left the tree right there in the middle of the road. 

I am personally grateful for the green in Delhi adding much beauty and helping fight the massive pollution problem that exists here.  Do I understand the craziness of deciding to leave a tree in a middle of a road or build the fence with a tree included in its path?  No.  But then again, I am realizing there is much to learn here and I am grateful that Delhi does love her trees.

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