You will be most disoriented. You’ll understand what it is really like to loose control. Vulnerability will be your companion for the next hour. The blindfolded walk does that to you within seconds of your wearing the dreary black mask. It’s an experience uncommon to most of us. But the Delhi Walk Festival, 2017 gives you the opportunity to be on the dark side of things.
Of the 170 walks, most are unique and off beat. Some of them are The Mughal Game of Thrones; Astrophotography: Terrestrial and Celestial Alignments; A Silent Walk into Your own City; Yamuna Old Iron Bridge Walk; Rewilding Delhi’s Mines; Dastaan-e-Shahjahanabad: Forgotten and Enigmatic Tales; Tales of Dissent: Women of Delhi, Then and Now; Steel Wool Photography and others.
Around 2012, Aastha Chauhan, the Festival Director, along with a core member of the festival, were helping Toxic Link, an organisation working on freeing the environment from toxins, look out for illegal encroachments in the Sanjay Van, among other things. At first, they started taking their friends into the forest to show them the animals, the resplendent flora and the way life existed in this think of greens. “Word got around and people were curious to experience it.
We had already been thinking about the idea of a weekend calendar of walks, and with the response we received with the Sanjay Van walk, we decided to introduce a full-fledged festival that promotes exploring the city on foot,” says Chauhan. The Sanjay Van walk today is undertaken under the full moon and is one of their most popular walks.
Chauhan believes that a better understand the city comes on foot. Better cities can also be built if urban planners and architects took to understanding the land by comprehensive walking. “The attention we received from educational institutions is very encouraging, for example, some felt that DWF is a good classroom exercise for students to better understand history, nature, architecture and environment,” she says.
The walks will be led by over 70 organizations/individuals, some of who are Historian William Dalrymple, Restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani, Architect Pradeep Sachdeva and Social Activist Aruna Roy. Having said that, people like Baldev Gutali, a visually impaired entrepreneur, leading the blind-floded walk are very competent too. Similarly, Amitabh Pandey, who founded the Noida Cyclist Club, will undertake a walk challenging the notions of gender and sexuality.
You also have special walks for the differently abled and female flâneur. “Walk to discover, to get lost, to learn, to unlearn, to know your city better. But mostly walk to find yourself through these myriad frameworks of urban existence,” says Chauhan.
In a certain way, the Delhi Walk Festival is a paramount step in reclaiming the roads of the world’s second largest city, Delhi, from indisciplined traffic, lack of safe infrastructure and apathy of drivers. It’s to say that the roads belong to each one of us in equal and fundamental measures. Till November 12. To view the schedule and charges, log on to Delhiwalkfestival.com