The Jahanpanah Forest is one of Delhi’s best kept secrets, known mostly to those in its neigbourhood.
Step inside and don’t be surprised to be greeted by a fox scurrying away – the probability is very low though. Its circumference is marked by a 6.6 kms (4.1 miles) black tar track – runners can measure their progress with milestones every 200 meters. The forest is dense with some open patches; it is also criss-crossed with paths connecting Greater Kailash II, Alaknanda, Chiragh Delhi and Tughlaqabad.
This post has been taken from Delhi 101, a book written by Ajay Jain. It is about 101 surprising ways to discover Delhi, one of the most amazing cities in the world for travelers. To know more about the book and to order one, click here.
It derives its name from Jahanpanah, meaning the ‘refuge of the world’ and the fourth city of Delhi founded by Mohammed bin Tughlaq. He found the city of Tughlaqabad, built by his father, unsuitable to live in. And rightly so. On a whim, he decided to move his capital to Daulatabad in the Deccan in south India – and everyone was ordered to go along. And a few years later, he changed his mind and brought everyone back. But he found the city of Siri unprotected from Mongol raids, and the earlier cities of Lal Kot and Qila Rai Pithora too small – so he enclosed all these areas by walls and a new city was created.
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The forest itself does not offer any prominent remains of this new city; for that matter, there is very little left of it. But if you exit from the Chiragh Delhi side and walk towards Khirki village beyond Sheikh Sarai II, you can spot some sluices or gates for water. Called Satpula, it means a seven-sectioned bridge. Actually it has six arches, but seven pillars supporting it. Hence the name. Mohammed bin Tughlaq’s palace, the Vijay Mandal was built in the middle of Jahanpanah, and some sections still remain.
The forest itself is an oasis in the middle of a crowded and noisy city. Kudos to the local authorities for the landscaping and for keeping it clean and safe. But one would not recommend a late night outing. It gets very dark inside with no lighting. Lose yourself in it – it is a great place to play a game of cops and robbers.
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