Delhi, the city where it all starts and ends, the city which still has excavations going on all over, in search of lost history of all the civilizations that have existed on its soil, through the ages. The very same city that has a population probably more than that of Australia, and among this exists marvels of history that remain untouched (mostly, if the government hasn’t started messing with them already) and unnoticed. As we continue to exist restlessly in this city, it is of utmost important to sometimes look for an escape, for some moments’ rest, which again isn’t possible where we live, as the honking won’t stop, and the guard would continue stomping his stick every 15 minutes, followed by the occasional whistles, while the vendors on the street calls out names of various vegetables, and basically, this city never stops. As students who are new to this way of life, it comes as a rushing nightmare, and to provide a getaway for them and for nature enthusiasts, travelers and just any curious soul living in this city, here’s a list of 5 such untouched places in Delhi to visit while you’re here:
1. Sanjay Van
Lying around Vasant Kunj and Mehrauli, this forest covers an area of about 783 acres. Rumored to be haunted, because of numerous Majaars, it is Delhi’s very own bird sanctuary and serves as an abode to deer, who roam about freely around the people living in the close vicinity of the forest. There are various entry and exit points for it, and travellers are likely to get lost sometimes, although one of the easiest paths lie around Qutub Institutional Area and another near Neela Hauz Bridge. When visiting this forest, make sure to cover yourself up entirely to avoid the thorny shrubbery from making a ruckus out of you, and carry food and water, since it’s untouched by the Delhiites, it doesn’t house any retail stores to serve you.
2. Ganga Dhaba, JNU
If you’re from JNU, you’re bound to have heard of this place or must have visited it, for all the COOL people hang out here, and by cool, I mean, the intellectually charged people who have been sprawling their grey matter over chai and samosas of this dhaba, since 1985. The place has been in the news lately because it has been shut down for a while, but since it’s a part of JNU’s culture, it is bound to reopen soon. A lot of people have been heard saying that, ‘what JNU is to India is what Ganga dhaba is to JNU’ since students sit here till as late as 4 am discussing whatever has been boiling around India, or vice versa.
3. Main Bazar, Paharganj
Been treated as the Thamel (Kathmandu, Nepal) of Delhi, this is not only one of the cheapest places to stay in Delhi, but also one of the best cheap food of the city is served here, along with cheap liquor which works well for all the DU students and the wannabe hipsters who are often found loitering around the lanes. An abode to second-hand books and accessories made up of feathers, leather skirts (yes, the Shiva-like skirts) and bags and pants that would fit even the sumo wrestlers of Japan can be found here. American hipsters, yes – the stereotypes and Israeli rabbis are often found lost around the streets, buying dusty lose clothes and cds of music they’ll never understand.
Jackson’s books, the best second hand bookstore in the city, owned by a man who you can spend hours talking to if stories intrigue the hell out of you, holds books in over 10 languages. The owner tends to exchange books with backpackers, and therefore has paperbacks from the remotest corners of the world. Chabad House is another place in Paharganj, known as the Jerusalem of Delhi, centre for Judaism, situated here because of the vast number of Israelis who tend to live in Paharganj, while traveling. During Hanukkah, the rabbis light candles not only inside it, but out on the streets, to glorify the versatility of this area, even more. And lastly, Club India café, eat here late into the night, or early in winters or rains, because it feels like little Himachal up here with thatched roof supporting the seating area up on the rooftop, serving food from all over the world.
4. National Archives of India – Janpath
It houses thousands of rare documents and books, passed down from generations, piled up all over the floors. While the people of Delhi continue to stay unaware of this beautiful place, it has a library that consists of over 1, 80, 000 books on the history of India. What’s more? The membership’s free here. You can dig around the place to come across confidential documents from the British era, or sprawl over Mughal farmans, or manuscripts dated back to the 4th century, which were written over parchments made up of animal-skin.
Trivia: Parts of William Dalrymple’s The Last Mughal: the fall of a dynasty was picked up and written here.
5. Forest, on the way to Kamla Nehru College
Spread widely, and home to birds that chirp endlessly throughout the day, this forest remains untouched by the polluted air of Delhi and from the millions of noises that go on and on in the city of the restless. It feels heavenly to come sit here after a long day of rushing through the city, or to take a walk around the trees that delicately intricate a web of branches, providing shade as you walk even under the daylight. Barely anybody goes here, except for the occasional joggers and the women who gather wood and work around the forest.
Exploring the unexplored – this city is a home to dozens of places that people have no clue about it, all it needs is a little time from your routine, and for you to step out and look even more closely around you. Hundreds of civilizations have existed in this city, with an endless amount of culture that we are letting go of just like the waste dump, into our rivers. This city needs love and attention, for all the glories that it now presents to us. From Majnu ka Tilla to Tughlakabad fort and the Ridge, from Nizzamuddin’s qawwali to the open mic sessions in Fursat Se’ at Shahpur Jat and the Indian Habitat Centre, from Cha bar to Indian coffee house, this city is full of wonders..are you ready to explore some?
By- Jaya Singh