Make hay while the sun shines…or in Delhi’s case, while the winter sun shines!
Instead of the usual Sunday Brunch plans, try a sumptuous picnic lunch under the winter sun while it lasts. If you thought Lodhi Garden and Nehru Park were your only picnic options in Delhi, think again! Our lovely city has a few well-kept secrets that could be right up your alley.
So go on. Create your own version of an Enid Blyton-esque day with a packed lunch of sandwiches, scones and lemonade (or wine, if you discreetly use opaque paper cups) at one of these lovely locations in the heart of Delhi. Don’t forget to wear comfortable walking shoes, pack a Frisbee as well as plenty of drinking water for these offbeat locations curated to help you make the best of this glorious weather before it slips away.
Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Mehrauli
One of the best-kept secrets in South Delhi, this park is where monuments were grown! Most tourists take pictures of Qutub Minar and speed away to the next big ticket attraction, leaving this gem blissfully empty. The gate is easy to miss, so pay attention: enter from the gate that is across the Mahavir Statue (Ahinsa Sthal) at Mehrauli. The gate is discreet and unmarked (save the typical DDA Park Rules sign) and you can take your vehicle all the way to the parking lot next to Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb. Walk around and find a spot to settle down, maybe on the hillock across from the Mosque. Insider tip: Though there’s a lot to see, start with the Jamali Kamali Mosque, move on to the Rajon ki Baoli and the Tomb of Quli Khan, and finally spread yourself out in the surrounding lawn, which offers a view of the Qutub Minar as well as an open ground to play cricket, badminton or any other game of your choice.
Sanjay Van, Vasant Kunj/Mehrauli
An oasis of green amidst the noise and humdrum of our city, Sanjay Van is a city forest hiding in plain sight within the heart of South Delhi. Nestled between Vasant Kunj, JNU and the Qutub Minar, it is dense, overgrown and populated by all kinds of birds. Helpful maps and direction boards make sure you never get lost. Enter from the gate on JNU road (just short of the Neela Hauz bridge) and walk your way in to find a spot you like. Bear in mind, there’s a lot to cover: a good spot to grow roots in is the lawn next to Neela Hauz. Once you’ve made yourself comfortable, don’t forget to explore further. It’s a little bit of a hike but definitely try and hit up Tejendra Point (look for the watch tower) as well as the ruined remains of the ancient Qila Lal Kot, the top of which offers guaranteed breathtaking views of the Qutub Minar, the whole forest and much of South Delhi (and not to forget a spectacular sunset and sunrise!). Insider tip: they say Sanjay Van is haunted, so stay after dark at your own peril!
Jahanpanah City Forest, Greater Kailash 2
Jahanpanah is another city forest sandwiched between Chirag Delhi, Greater Kailash, Alaknanda & Madangir. Lovingly called the “green lung” of South Delhi, it’s a fantastic location to keep an eagle eye out for all sorts of birds – and the occasional boar and neelgai. In addition to the 6.5 km running track, there are many benches, gazebos and play areas for kids; all make good spots to settle down with a picnic basket. It derives its name from Jahanpanah, meaning “refuge of the world” and the fourth city of Delhi founded by Mohammed bin Tughlaq. Some ruins of Tughlaq’s palace, Vijay Mandal, can still be spotted in the forest. Enter from the main gate across from Don Bosco School (in GK2) as you will find some parking on this side.
Bio Diversity Park, Gurgaon
Forget parks, forget flowers and forget man made comforts. If you really want to rough it out, this is the place to be. Enter from the gate right next to the Gurgaon-Delhi border on MG Road, and park in the small lot inside. Vast, rocky and full of hidden ravines and gorges, the bio-diversity park is home to indigenous species of trees, shrubs and birds; and is a perfect example of how the South-West part of the city was before we sculpted it. Inside, you’ll find walking trails twisting and turning as far as the eye can see. Continue down any of the paths leading inwards, and you’ll soon find yourself far, far away from the maddening mess that can be Gurgaon. Insider tip: You won’t find too many flat grassy spaces, so prepare to sit yourself down on the closest boulder and bask in the warm winter sun!
Garden of Five Senses, Said-ul-Ajab
Though planned and developed by the Department of Tourism this garden is much more than any ol’ park. Once you get in, carefully tended gardens, off-beat sculptures and the occasional water body await you. Built over the original rocky terrain of Said-ul-Ajab, you’ll find vendors and food stalls selling hot momos and chaat inside – a welcome addition to any picnic basket! In addition, the bar-lounge-restaurants inside can be used to pack a quick lunch if you are unable to cook or assemble one from home. Once you’re inside, look out for the Bell Tree and the Elephants installations. If you’re daring, go clambering over the rocky hill – there’s a fantastic view waiting for you, as long as you’re brave enough to avoid stepping on the scores of couples who use this spot to sneak in some alone time!
If you would like to stick with something a little more conventional, or tried-and-tested, then you can have your pick from Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park, India Gate/ Childrens’ Park, Central Park, National Rose Garden and Millenium Park. And most importantly: respect our city and make sure you leave your picnic spots cleaner than you found it. After all, swacch bharat is now our national priority!
Been to a super secret picnic spot that we should know about? Let us know in the comments section below!
This post was written for LBBD and you can view the original post on their website here.