Monday, November 23, 2009

A JUNGLE EXPEDITION


 We started our walk at around 9.30AM on a sunny Sunday morning accompanied by experienced Mr Gupta. Was not sure what to expect. I was told that the forest is full of wide variety of flora and fauna.

Till now there was clear path we were following with woodland around and some people here and there out for morning walk. 

Back to history - Bhooli Bhatyari ka Mahal
Our first destination was Bhooli Bhatyari ka mahal. There are lots of stories attached to this place.

It was the biggest hunting lodge built by Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351-88), third Sultan of the Tughluq dynasty. Built in AD 1354, it lies on the ridge opposite to Karol Bagh's Link Road. The mahal is a rectangular enclosure entered by two gateways on its north-eastern corner. The southern and eastern walls are provided with bastions. 

A sad story in the lap of nature
Mr Gupta was leading us to some place that he didn't disclose. We reached a place that looked like an unused old building from outside. After going in we discovered its a large open air theatre "Rabindra Rangshala".
Conceived and created by Mr Nehru in early 1960s it has a seating capacity of 8000-10000 spectators. It has the 100 x 68 ft. stage that could be modified in three different dimensions proportionate to the needs of the performance. The make-up rooms, green- rooms, costume rooms, rehearsal rooms and workshop for performances flank the stage on both.
But all this is past. Its deserted now. All we could see now was a care taker Chaturvedi ji, some wild Jackals and lots of pigeons. It is in a deplorable condition. Such a huge construction now in ruins. It has hardly witnessed 1 or 2 events since its inception.

The Ridge invaded
We proceeded further to the main attraction of the day. Here a peacock scans the clouds from its vantage point on a tree while an owl hunts for game amongst the thick, thorny shrubs; The ground is golden and the earth wet. "Delhi Ridge" plays host to many such magical moments.
It's a northern extension of ancient Aravalli Range some 1500 million years old (compared to just 50 million for the Himalaya). The Delhi ridge is said to be the green lungs for the city. Its divided into four parts... The part we visited is the central ridge that stretches from south of Sadar Bazaar to Dhaula Kuan. It extends over 864 hectares. Others include Old Delhi (Northern Ridge), Mehrauli (South central Ridge) and Tughlaqabad (Southern Ridge). The area inhibits an astonishing variety of wildlife, including 120 species of plants, 100 species of birds, 25 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and an innumerable species of arthropods.
We were lucky enough to get glimpse of good variety of birds and butterflies; The reptiles were hibernating; And rest of the species... some mammals, amphibians and arthropods were keenly watching us from somewhere but not giving us the chance to spot them.
At first we could hear faint sounds of the city life but after going further deep, the silence of the place made us forget that we are in the heart of a city. All we could hear was chirping of birds and peacocks screaming at times and that's it. The sight of golden ground covered with shrubs was amazing. Sounds, scent and sight of that place made it magical. Its was that magic only that made us walk more than 15 kilomters at a stretch. Another motivation was Mr Gupta. He is 60+ walking ahead of us, lost in nature. Twice I called him out to stop for a while to rest but he seemed to be so lost that he missed it both the times. So I too decided to get lost in the divine nature.

And back to the city
The sounds of city life made us realize that we are hitting the boundry. We made our exit at a place where some young boys were cutting grass for their cattle. Their curious eyes were asking us what were we doing deep inside there... a place that was perhaps the end of the world for them.
And there we saw crowds, buildings... honking, noises... polybags, stinking garbage... cars, traffic... oops we were back to the city.

 P.S. - Would love to get lovely comments from lovely people reading this :)
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