A sprawling nature park in the midst of the bustling South Delhi comes as a major surprise to a lot of us. Sanjay Van did surprise us as well when we decided to make a trip to this Kikar Forest right next to Vasant Kunj.
To enter the reserved park we took the gate at the Qutub institutional Area, which is located on the left once you cross the IIFT on your right. As usual, wear outdoorsy clothing, a good pair of shoes, ones which don’t have a soft sole to protect you from the Kikar thorns on the ground. Carry sun glasses, lots of water and food, as there won’t be anything available inside. Once inside be ready to tread some tuff tracks that are made up of rocks and boulders that require a good bit of effort moving around.
The trails inside go in all directions, a few ending up in dead ends. There is no sure and certain path that you need to take as it all comes back to where you started or to an exit at other sides of the van, one being at Aruna Asif Ali road and the other near Qutub Minar. The Route that leads to Aruna Asif Ali also takes you to the Neela Hauz, a small and dried/drying water body. Inside you will find families picnicking, kids from nearby villages playing cricket and also a bunch of guys drinking. It would be a good idea to avoid the drinking parties inside as they can be rowdy and boisterous.
Entering the trail we saw a board informing visitors of the various kinds of snakes found in the park, to our luck we didn’t come across any. Going forward we were met with a crossing, the right going to Aruna Asif Ali side, left taking you to a village and the road straight ahead going to the ruins of Lal Qot or Qila Rai Pithora. It is a point of interest for many as the area is believe to be the most haunted place in New Delhi, with the ghost of Hazrat Sheikh Shahabuddin Ashiqallah walking about at night time. The Pir’s dargah is known to give strange vibes, sounds and coldness at night. Yet many venture here at night to pay respects to the Pir, who performed a miracle to provide food at a feast where the hosts had run short.
The van is also known to be a bird watchers paradise as it attracts a host of them, including Asian Koel, Brahminy Starling, Indian Silverbill, Grey-breasted Prinia, Crested Honey Buzzard, White-throated Kingfisher among many other. We ventured off the main trails to explore the van further and away from the picnicking lot which turned out to be a good choice. There were Deer and Neelgai dotting the jungle but away from the visitors. They graze calmly until they know you are around and stand still to gauge your intensions. No matter what you intensions are though, they surely and quickly flee if you try and get too close. While on our way back we saw a few cyclists one their MTB and hybrids making good use of the dirt track that runs throughout the jungle. Although many cyclists come to the jungle as it offers a serene and less used track, the right time to do so would be early in the morning as in the day it could get too hot to bear.
Where: Sanjay Van, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi
Nearest Metro Station: Hauz Khas