I live in South Delhi, so the Aravali Biodiversity Park in Vasant Vihar is quite close, but even for people who live a distance away, this is a good place to run (despite the totally unenforced sign at the entrance saying “No jogging”) because you get to run through a jungle, with masses and masses of birdlife, and on a nice well maintained dirt track – a pleasant change from pounding the pavements.
And of course there is no traffic, which is a huge plus.
Much of the park is fenced off on either side of the main track, with several access gates to sections of the park that are off limits to casual visitors – I have seen school parties going inside, for nature walks. But even so, the track is some 2.2km from the gate to where the new TERI campus has come up, so you can do a decent run just there and back, and there is a short loop you can do (you can see it on the track log further down).
Over the months, I have, on several occasions, branched off the main track, to explore the forest, hoping to figure out if this park links up with the park of a similar name in Gurgaon, but – and I must be frank – since I run alone, I have never felt entirely comfortable branching off too far from the main track. There are villages bordering the park – sadly encroaching on it in places – and although I have run through them, and been greeted with nothing but friendly curiosity, it is safer to stick to the main path.
There are a couple of small Hindu shrines along the path (as you can see from the photo above) and in the early mornings, there may be a devotee sitting, or doing his yoga quietly.
Early in the mornings in the summer there are people out walking, there are usually a couple of runners, but no dog walkers, since they are not allowed…through as the photos (above) imply, there are a few stray dogs live there, but they are totally unhassle-y – they leave walkers and runners well alone. In the winter, I usually run in the middle of the day, when the sun is nice and warm, and there are days when I have had the park to myself.
Oh, except for a nilgai one day, which was a magical sighting. He was super cool and relaxed, and watched me watching him until he got bored and wandered off. Fabulous.
These days there are more peacocks and peahens in the park than you can shake a stick at, and I have had at least 4 private dancing demos this week alone. Someone needs to tell this fellow, below, whom I’ve watched strutting his stuff like this 2 days in a row, that he should be performing for a peahen not an old lady out running.
In the street outside the entrance gate – very safe.
No, not really.
Although in the (locked and fenced off) camp site there are loos and once or twice I have badgered the chowkidar into opening them for me. But don’t count on it. Nor on there being water in the loos, sad to report.
If you stick to the main track, it is perfectly safe. During the day there are gardeners at work, so it’s not an issue. As I said, even venturing alone into the forest felt pretty safe, but I would hate to lull any of you into a false sense of security, so suggest you avoid it if you are alone.
Condition of park
Clean. Stray bits of rubbish (but way, way too much garbage on the track immediately to the right as you enter, that leads to a basti – but you don’t take that track. Don’t.)
The walkers and runners are always polite to a T, and you do meet interesting people. For example, just the other morning I had an informative chat with a goatherd about illegal borewells (as one does at 6.30am) while his flock nibbled away.
The track log, below, starts a little outside the park – in the top right hand corner. That’s where you will leave you car and enter. There are a few gentle inclines, as you run, nothing too taxing. The end of the track is the new campus that I have seen being built over the the years. I just wish they wouldn’t nibble away at our precious green spaces. As I said earlier, the condition of the path is good, and it’s nice to run on. Some sections have tree cover, others don’t, but if you go early enough in the summer, it’s never that hot.
Here you go, here’s the map from Mr. Google:
One last word- the name might well say “park” but it is not a park per se. No benches, no lawns, no flower beds. You get a pretty good wilderness experience, with peacocks and peahens flying up as you run past them and jungle babblers drowning out your music.
Recommended. Why would you run through streets when you can run here?