What is Aravali Biodiversity Park in Gurgaon like?

Last summer, I spent many a hot summer Sunday morning yomping round the Aravali Biodiversity Park in Gurgaon with my trekking buddy Sunil Nehru, as we trained for our high altitude trek in Ladakh.  Gurgaon might not be all that hilly, but we found the park a great place to train, as my review said at the time.

Fast forward almost a year, and Sunil, his delightful wife Nina and I met up last Sunday for a yomp.  They are going off on a trek later this month, I am planning a climb in August, so with our backpacks on, we did 3 rounds of the park.  Quite like old times…

And it’s not q-u-i-t-e as unspoilt as last year, sad to say.  There is more barbed wire than I had remembered.  Plus a nice new perimeter wall, which is good.  But for some reason, fancy metal gates have been installed at several points along the path (I’d actually seen this back in January when I came running here) but now they have been semi-chained and padlocked –  the way the grills outside nationalised banks are ? – which meant we rucksacked folks had a bit of a struggle to get through.  As did everyone on a bike, or (I imagine) with a dog on leash.  You squeeze through, precariously, one at a time.

Don’t see the point.

Other than that, the sunrise was every bit as lovely as I had remembered.

IMG_7593

 

No nilgai or jungle cat this time, but flowers.

IMG_7596

IMG_7599

And, of course, Sunil’s famous jam butties.

We always have a picnic breakfast thanks to him, and (I suspect) that British Public School education he received as a teenager, which must have marked him for life.

IMG_7594

 

As on every occasion I have visited this great public facility, I felt perfectly safe.  It is clean by any objective standards and by Delhi/Gurgaon standards it is spotless.

I especially love the views, below –  for a few minutes as you crest this slope, you really do not feel you are in a crowded city at all.

 

IMG_7600

IMG_7603

It was amazingly green on Sunday, despite the heat – doubtless the result of the rain we had in March.  Gardeners were out at work, there is a massive drip irrigation system in place, which will be brilliant when the summer really takes hold.

Conclusion?

All you Gurgaon people –  get out and enjoy a facility that is on your doorstep, that is free, and that is clean and safe.  It is rare to have such a wilderness space, so use it and cherish it.

Aravali Bio-Diversity Park, Gurgaon

I first discovered this impressive park last year, when I went to listen to the divine Sonam Kalra in concert.

These last few weeks have seen me re-acquainting myself with the park in a very different avatar.  I am training for a high altitude trek in Ladakh next month, and since one of my fellow trekkers lives bang next door to the park, it has become our Sunday morning training ground.  Sunil and I meet at the park at 5.30 am and walk for several hours, all rucksacked and hiking-booted-up.  I can tell you in the never-ending pre-monsoon heat and humidity, we are both seriously overdressed…

The park is huge, and since there has mercifully been no attempt to prettify it, what you have is kilometres of original vegetation – thorn trees and low scrubby bushes, with good paths winding through them.  It has a wild feeling to it, and certainly makes for more interesting walking, rather than –  say –  somewhere like Nehru Park in south Delhi (where we also train, by the way).  The land was apparently heavily mined, and you can still see the results of quarrying, but as nature takes over, that raw ugliness will soon disappear.

In the early mornings, the park feels safe. There are a couple of guards, and there are always gardeners doing their stuff-  mainly watering the kikar trees – and there are enough people out walking, running, cycling, bird-watching – it’s all quite energetic, despite the searing temperatures.

Over the course of our walks we have seen nilgai, a jungle cat, a “dhaan” or rat snake, a mongoose, birds galore – last Sunday was bee-eater convention day, clearly.  We were told there was a litter of jackal pups last Sunday, too, but we couldn’t spot them.

There are stray dogs, but they don’t seem overly aggressive.  There are often herds of cows grazing.  All quite rural, considering the back drop is the tower blocks of Gurgaon.

A good parking area, otherwise no facilities at all.  No loos, no benches, nothing.  The open-air auditorium is there of course, very close to the entrance.

For those of you who live in Gurgaon –  go use a great facility on your doorstep.

Dawn breaking over the park.

India_Gurgaon_P1030205

The open-air auditorium as it usually looks…

India_Gurgaon_P1030207

…and during the wonderful concert I mentioned earlier.  Magical.

 

India_Gurgaon_0685

“Soup for trees” always makes me smile

 

India_Gurgaon_P1030209

Nilgai

India_Gurgaon_P1030329

India_Gurgaon_P1030342

 

 

India_Gurgaon_P1030212

It may not be our ultimate goal, Mentok Kangri (all 6250 metres of it –  help!!) but let me tell you that on a baking hot morning, this slope is a killer.

And here is Sunil acing it.

IMG_6776 1

 

 

DLF Phase 3, Sector 24, Gurgaon, HR 122002