“Take back this development, restore the greenery”, as the famous poet Rabindranath Tagore had rightly said, chiding rapid urbanization. But years later, this mad race is still rampant, as the cities are transforming into concrete jungles. In lieu of what appears attractive on the face, precious green assets are being lost. Delhi is no exception to the above; however, there are some reserve forests & green patches still left in the city that have escaped encroachment so far, and Jahanpanah Forest is one such treasure.
Sandwiched between Chirag Delhi, Greater Kailash (GK), Alaknanda, Hamdard Nagar, Madangir & Ambedkar Nagar, this is a vast sprawl of green spread over about 800 Acres of land. Not only is this part the green lung of South Delhi, it is also the most popular fitness destination for its residents.
You can enter Jahanpanah Forest from any of the numerous gates. A long walking-cum-jogging track has been laid throughout the forest. The maintenance of the forest is under the jurisdiction of Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Security guards are posted all across the area, some of whom are also armed.
Some enthusiastic joggers & morning walkers drive up to Jahanpanah almost every day, park outside the gates and go inside. However, due to the presence of Don Bosco, St George’s & Kalka Public Schools, the access from the Alaknanda side gets really congested in the mornings. The nearest metro station is Govindpuri on the Violet Line, and many bus routes (445, 540, 724C, 469, 440, 419 etc) connect the forest from multiple sides.
Once you look around, you will find many health-conscious people accompanying you, who walk / jog along the track or are in the midst of doing some freehand exercises on the side. One comes across Yoga camps too, but as you go deeper into the forest, the crowd around you thins out and you are awestruck by the beauty of the flora & fauna that surrounds you. There are many rare species of trees and plants dotted around. The air is filled with sweet chirps of the birds that may take a while to identify. There are number of peacocks about too.
As the track takes you further, you will be surprised to notice milestones that tell you how much distance you have covered. There are natural drains and the path culverts over them. The design of the bridges include seats in order to make a pit stop for catching your breath.
Be cautioned on your initial days of visit, as you are bound to lose your way if you go too deep into the forest. Don’t be scared if this situation arises, just follow your senses & never deviate from the path! If you see people coming from the opposite direction, try tracing their path backwards. You will surely find a gate to emerge out on one of the access roads. Cycling is not allowed here anymore, and do keep some money in your pockets for the 'emergency' auto ride. For this reason, people usually go in up to a fair distance and do not delve further until they are familiar & confident of their surroundings.
Grab your headphones or take a book and lace up - this is the best place to strip away the worries of the world and stray into nature!