In the middle of all the destruction/construction happening in Chennai, where large bungalows with very old trees are making way for boxy apartment complexes with barely any greenery, one tree has survived the axe. Why? This tree, called aptly as Nagalinga tree, is a vivid reminder of divinity – the flowers are a unerring depiction of a Shiva linga resting under the hood of a thousand-headed snake. (naga – meaning snake and linga – a popular symbol of Shiva)
There are many of these trees struggling too close to compound walls, yet they thrive. In its namesake park, the Nageshwara Park (“Snake Lord”), Mylapore, it stands in lieu of a temple. People coming in for morning walks step out of their sneakers, tenderly touch the tree and place their palms on their eyes, before going on their laps.
The flowers are so much in demand that devout mamas in the apartment wake up earlier and earlier to grab more than their share of these flowers for their morning poojas. My father is the current reigning champion managing to step out at 3am to get the choicest flowers!!
So, atleast until there is some devotion in the population, it is safe to say this tree will survive extinction!