As a political hotspot, Delhi has seen scores of battles, revolts, massacres, sieges, sackings, conspiracies and assassinations over the last millennium. All these events have left scars on the city. Some of them are visible, like the bullet wounds on Kashmiri Gate but some others are not, yet they remain alive through anecdotes and more importantly, through nomenclature. The Khooni Jheel or the bloody lake, as the name amply suggests, offers one such instance.
Your imaginations may run high when you hear the name but you may be disappointed to find that there is no trace of red in this lake. Whatever blood was shed here has dried up ages ago. It is not even big enough to be called a lake but more like a small pond.
Surrounded by thick vegetation from all sides, the greenish layer over the water along with the swimming ducklings paint a rather serene picture completely contrary to its reputation but let the face value not dilute its actual reputation. The fact that it is tightly encircled with iron wires indicates that it is still a dangerous place.
The signboards also indicate that the lake is at least 80 feet deep and has a history of drowning incidents which is why the authorities have made it impossible for anyone to try their luck at swimming or diving in the lake. Unless you are a water bird, you can’t touch the water of the lake anymore.
The legends start from 1857. As heavy fighting took place in the nearby areas, many people from both sides fell into the lake and drowned. Some of the fleeing British families including women and children also drowned here. After the battle even more corpses were dumped here. So, legends speak of shadowy figures and wailing children sometimes seen or heard here after dark.
However the mythical nature of this lake has been somewhat diluted of late. This is because the thick jungle surrounding the park has been converted into a well maintained park complete with culverts and flowering shrubs. As a result, it attracts a lot of people including lovelorn couples seeking solitude in the jungle. Cupid has clearly trumped the ghosts!
While the location looks simple enough on the map, it takes a while to locate it on ground because of the dense vegetation of the ridge. There are multiple entrances but to avoid confusion, you can reach the Vice Chancellor's office of the Delhi University. The entrance to the ridge is just opposite to it.
Upon entering, the first thing you will see is the Flagstaff Tower, another massacre site from the battle of 1857. You need to take a right from there and walk through the smooth road covered with picturesque flowering trees. It will take at least 15 minutes of walking before you finally reach the spot, where you need to climb down a few stairs to finally get a clear view of the lake!
So it’s about time you head out to explore this gem in Delhi!