Jahanpanah City Forest
Stories of polluted Delhi air are making everyone either fret or just ignore them as hazards of staying in a cosmopolitan city. But once in a while, it does make sense to take a walk in some of the best green lungs Delhi has. On a rain-drenched evening, Jahanpanah Forest, touching sides with GK II, can inspire the poet in you. For everyday else, it’s a walker’s delight and a marathon runner’s favourite haunt. Its seven-km track often lets lucky ones watch birds in abundance. Nilgais, peacocks and sparrows are some of the frequent visitors here. Named after the fourth city of Delhi, Jahanpanah—which literally means ‘refuge of the world’—is often also in the news as ever-encroaching slums eat into the green space. The forest also presents an idea as to how vigilant citizens can save a forest.
Yamuna Biodiversity Park
Before the Vilayati Kikar tree invaded Delhi, annihilating the native tree species, the capital had a huge number of fruit-laden trees. Yamuna Biodiversity Park, an experiment spread over 450 acres near Wazirabad village in north Delhi, has grown over 500 varieties of 80 species of fruit-yielding plants—khirni, anar, sapota, jamun, guava, amla, lemon, orange, grape, loquat and ber are some of them. The water body here gets a lot of winged visitors from abroad. One should visit the butterfly conservatory to see what Delhi has lost. Located just a kilometer from the Yamuna stream, the park is an example of conservation.
The 1883 Gazetteer of Delhi reported abundance of foxes, hare, blackbuck, gazelles, blue bulls, hog deer and leopards roaming the jungles here. Little remains of those forests, barring the Delhi Ridge area, which extends to south Delhi. Called Sanjay Van, this green lung near Jawaharlal Nehru University neighbouring Mehrauli, also hides a deep mystery. Blue bulls, wild boar and a huge variety of birds are its other inhabitants. A walk in the Sanjay Van could disconnect one from the world outside. Adventurous ones can climb the ruins overlooking the vast expanse of trees. For the uninitiated, the ruins are the remains of the first city of Delhi, Lal Kot.