Delhi is the unfortunate victim of much infamy owing to its high levels of pollution, dust and crowd. Surprisingly though, it is the proud owner of several lush green forests which are home to several kinds of animals and plants. The Delhi ridge, the northern part of the 1500-year-old Aravalli range is a strip of green covering a distance of 35 kilometres. Known as the 'green lungs' of Delhi, it protects the city from the blistering winds of Rajasthan. Here are some forests you can explore and leave behind the daily grind of the city.
1. Sanjay Van
Location: Vasant Kunj-Mehrauli
Sanjay Van is a respite from the concrete jungle of the city. Densely wooded and sprawling over 783 acres, it is a part of Mehrauli South Central ridge and lies near Vasant Kunj and Mehrauli. However, the unchecked growth of the Vilayati Kikar or Mexican mesquite, a South American plant is proving to be a cause of concern, as it depletes underground water levels and kills native plants. The Sanjay Van is perfect for bird enthusiasts and you're likely to find a wide array of bird species to feast your eyes upon. Purple sunbird, Asian koel, Brahminy starling, Indian silverbill and the Grey-breasted prinia are a few from the vast range of birds you can gaze at with binoculars.
2. Southern Ridge Forest/ Tughlaqabad Ridge Forest
Location: Sardar Patel Marg
Get off the Tughlaqabad metro and walks towards the lush green canopy of trees which is the Southern Ridge forest. A green expanse of 6,200 hectares, it includes the Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary which is home to 193 species of birds and a vast range of plants. With more than 80 species of butterflies fluttering around, this peaceful getaway has animals like the blue bull, blackbuck, black-naped hare, porcupine, civets, jackals and jungle cats living there.
3. Jahanpana City Forest
Location: Chirag Delhi
The Jahanpana City forest is spread over 435 acres of land and offers a breath of fresh air for people who come in for early morning walks. Neelgais flit in and out between the trees, while people hoping to boost their flagging health, roar in laughter clubs. However, the trail leads deeper into the forest which offers more seclusion and it is easy to lose your way among the trees.
4. Rajokri Protected Forest
This forest is an alternative side to the mad rush of Delhi and is covered in thorny shrubs and waving trees. With a variety of birds chirping, you can sit by the lake inside the forest to soak in the peace and quiet. The forest is interspersed with small villages and fields.
5. Old Delhi/Northern Ridge
Location: Adjacent to North Campus
The Northern ridge is adjacent to the North Campus and is mostly hilly. This part is the smallest fragment of the ridge and 170 hectares of it was declared as a reserved forest in 1915. Today the forest area is less than 87 hectares. The Kamala Nehru ridge, a part of the Northern ridge boasts of thick vegetation and 70 species of birds. You'll find the Khooni Jheel, an 80-feet deep pond which has a tragic story attached to it.
6. Mangar Bani Forest
Location: Faridabad-Gurgaon highway
The lush green Mangar Bani forest along the Faridabad-Gurgaon highway is the last patch of virgin forest left in the Delhi-NCR region. Fringed by the scenic Aravalli hills, the 100 hectare area of forest has a story behind it. There was once a hermit by the name of Gudariya Baba, whom the villagers held in great esteem. His dictates included preserving the forest by avoiding cutting down trees and not letting livestock graze in the forest. The villagers still guard the forest and refuse to let anyone cut trees there.
So take a break from this mechanical jungle and lose yourself in the quiet of the forest.