Yon Emerald Spires

The slumbering ents of Tolkien’s mythology are easy to envision among the towering trees that dot Manipal. Where groves gather, a soft wind blows; as if the trees reminisce of times gone by whilst we pass by oblivious to their sighing voices.

Even though the bark-clad denizens of Manipal are fewer than they should be in an ideal world, they are yet far numerous than in the other contemporary towns of Manipal. Leaves of myriad shapes and sizes dance in the winds of Manipal, and for a tree-spotter, the more placid sibling of the bird-spotter, there are quite a few places to visit in the course of daily life.

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The elder flora of Manipal is chiefly of the evergreen variety, beaming up at the sky through the sudden rains and bright sunlight. The drooping leaves and thin stalk of saplings of the sandalwood tree can be found in many places throughout the campuses, keep a lookout on the wild trees growing just outside the fences as well, to catch a glimpse of the leaves spinning like tops even in a gentle wind.

Akin to the sweeping beards of wise old sages, the branches of Casuarina droop with the wisdom of years, and more pedantically, the weight of their voluminous grey-green twigs sprouting scaly leaves. Acacia grows like the first drawings of a child, quick in the making, but gnarled and swirled yet mesmerizing. Dense foliage and creamy yellow flowers mark it ever a welcome sight for weary travelers.

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The broad leaves of Holigarna are often frequented by large black ants, and an old tree can be seen near the Greens besides stamping and shouting people. Calophyllum flowers are white with a many stamened heart of gold, some species flowering in a form called the thryse, recalling the staff of Bacchus, the Roman deity of plenty. Over the railing beside Inox, is a beautiful view of the valley where keen eyes can pick up a few of these trees.

For the more melodramatic, Alstonia scholaris also graces the landscape of Manipal, quite popular amongst fiction writers by its other name, the devil tree. Quite anticlimactically however, the name is due to its distinctive smell (Terrible. Obviously.)

There are also a couple of trees of particular prominence in Manipal, well-known amongst the people who check the ecology of a place out before visiting (It is not exactly known where this sub-section of humanity is found. Existence presumed based on tracks (read: websites) found in the untamed jungles of the internet.)

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The Gulmohar tree at End-Point, which is an ornamental tree, ornamented by the regal name of Delonix regia, is quite an attraction. The other is the Bodhi tree which watches over the guests of Dollops.

Trees, unlike fauna, usually stick around in the same place. Keeping an eye out for all the different trees can be a fun pastime for any Manipalite. It is also advisable, if the mood strikes, to make a day of tree-spotting up at the enchanting woodland of Kudremukh National Park.

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