Delhi’s urban forest offers solace with lush greenery, wildlife, and historical ruins, a great escape for nature lovers struggling to be at peace in the urban jungle of the cityscape. Sanjay Van is your calling, dear all.
It’s been over a year since I moved to Delhi to attend college. इस शहर को ये हुआ क्या, कहीं राख है तो कहीं धुआं धुआं (Is shara ko ye hua kya kahi rakh hai toe kahi dhua dhua), turned into my everyday reality. Whenever I get a system notification about the AQI levels in my area, all I think of is what is keeping me alive in this filthy air. Then, one fine day, while scrolling through places to visit in Delhi, I came across ‘Sanjay Van’.
It is part of the Delhi Ridge, or The Ridge, which is the Northern Aravalli leopard wildlife corridor in the territory of Delhi. It covers an area of 780 acres. The tail end of the Aravalli Hills is 1500 million years old, comprising the flora and fauna native to this region. The Delhi Development Authority in the 1970s started developing this area, which has now turned out to be the ‘lungs of the city’.
Now a city forest, Sanjay Van once was the hunting range of Firozshah Tughlaque. It is also the natural habitat for Blue Bulls, Golden Jackals, lizards like Monitor, several snacks, and birds like Grey and Purple Herons and Peacocks. This conserved area has recently transformed into a bird-watching spot. Several species of birds, like Indian peafowl, grey heron, Eurasian golden oriole, purple sunbird, Asian koel, Brahminy starling, Indian silver bill, white-breasted waterhen, etc., can be seen here with great ease.
One fine day, I decided to visit this city forest, and since then, I have made it a ritual to go there every weekend for my well-being. Serenity and tranquilly, the luxuries in an urban cityscape, are the natural vibes there. It is easy to reach as the nearest metro stations are Malaviya Nagar (Yellow Line) and R K Puram (Magenta Line). As soon as you enter, several shades of green greet you.
For archaeology lovers, you can spot the 12th-century ruins of a ‘Quila’, constructed during the reign of Prithviraj Chauhan. The trail begins, granting you a great sense of belonging. It is an ideal place for long walks, cycling, and yoga meditation. Away from the hassle of city life, it is a great spot to sit and reflect on our lives. The time here passes slowly, and every panorama ignites a new wave of fascination. Sanjay Van is a haunted forest. You can also spot a lady walking around, wearing a ‘white saree’. To keep yourself safe from her, make sure that you carry your garbage bags and do not litter on the forest ground. Once, an infamous and precarious site transformed into a great hangout place with your family and friends. The restored lake ‘Neela Hauz’ has turned into a drain because of the sewage water that has started to flow in there. Prefer to stay silent in there if you want to enjoy the sweet melodies of the birds and embrace the silence of the place. When you visit, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes and shoes.
The terrain of the forest allows you to have a pleasing hiking experience with its flat and low, hilly slopes. Recently, DDA has acquired about 5,000 sq m by removing illegal structures.
The highest peak gives you a beautiful view of the city and Qutub Minar. So, if you are planning a day out, there are many attractive places in the neighbourhood that you will enjoy visiting, like Hauz Khas Village, Qutub Minar, and Chamapagali.
‘Ye hai Delhi meri jaan’, and for the first time since moving here, I felt my ‘Jaan’ being revived under the canopy, secure in the lap of Mother Nature.
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Featured Image Credits: Divya Malhotra