Well I DID and not on any mountain but on the oldest fold mountains in India, the Aravalis. The Aravali range cradles Gurgaon in its arms and if Taazi khuli hawa is in your mind then head straight to the Aravali Bio diversity Park.
As Part of my running Schedule my Coach from Gurgaon Road Runners suggested we do “Hill Repeats” on the Hills of the Aravali Biodiversity park at 5:30a.m.
“Repeat what?” I exclaimed!
I am not sure if running on hills was more shocking or reaching some Hills at 5:30 am was.
“If you want to increase your endurance and thereby your speed you must train on hills. You burn more calories running on hills,” said the coach.
That was it!
I was sold at “You burn more calories running on hills”.
He didn’t have to convince me further.
As I readied myself for an early rise, I quickly googled for the Aravalis Biodiverstiy Park. I gathered that there are two Aravalis Bio Diversity parks, the older one is pocketed between Vasant Vihar, Vasant Kunj & Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and the other one is on MG Road, Gurgaon.
Thodi History, Geography ho jaye!!
The large number of mining activities, operation of stone crushers and deforestation was causing serious environmental degradation in the Aravalis. Fearing a catastrophic ecological fallout, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, issued a notification in 1992, declaring few Aravali Hills of Gurgaon district as “gair mumkin pahar (uncultivable forested hills) ”. In January 2011, the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) inaugurated the multi-crore Biodiversity Park project in association with NGO ‘iamgurgaon’ in one of these “gair mumkin pahar”, promising residents a site of pristine green in 576 acre of land in the Aravali range, today known as the Aravalis Biodiversity Park.
Colosseum Of Bio-diversity
Next day all set for my Hill repeats, I reached the Park with my Running Group. The gate was unguarded and open. Now, I am a simple girl, who finds happiness in simple things in life like fresh air and free parking. I found both here.
Beyond the gravelled parking, the hills looked welcoming. As a metro passed from behind us, I gazed at the lush green forest. Back in my Law College days, a leading Environment Lawyer had said, “There will always be a conflict between Human Development and Environment Preservation, we have to find a via media.” If only the smog filled millennium city had shown more respect to the environment we could perhaps be having more such Green lungs in Gurgaon.
As I jogged, the Aravalis looked like coliseum of biodiversity. The Opening Act was by the sun which rose from behind the jogging track. I felt as if I was running in a pool of the most beautiful orange coloured waves. As the fresh breeze brushed against my skin, I heard the melodious call of a Koel. Not to be left behind, a flashy blue headed peacock called out from one of the hills to which two motted brown peanhens harmonicaly replied. The wild flowers left an intoxicating smell in the air. The forest seemed still, calm and yet so Vibrant.
However, all was not hunky dory few years back. Latika Thukral founder of NGO, I am Gurgaon, who is closely associated with the multi-crore project said that they started this project four years back with the intention of restoring this scarred land into a biodiversity reserve and revive the rich flora of the Aravali Range.
Latika informed that they have been able to plant about 130 species of plants (trees, shrubs, herbs and climbers) in the said park. Some of the species growing in their nursery are, Albizia odorotissima (kala basa), Boswellia serrata (salai), Anogeissus pendula (dhau) etc.
While walking on the tracks you will easily spot families of Peafowls and hear Parakeets, Mynahs & Cuckoos. The park attracts 120 species of birds, informed Latika, including Oriental Magpie Robin, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Purple Sunbird, Common Tailorbird, Rufous Treepie, Long-tailed Shrike, Jungle Prinia, Common Babbler etc.
Tring bring….Nature Calls!
When in nature and if nature calls, you might have to jump behind some bushes to relieve yourself. There are no restrooms inside the park. Also if you decide to picnic in the park, remember to carry your own food and water as there are no eateries or restaurants inside or immediately outside the park. However, if you drive further down on the Gurgaon Faridabad Road (pahari rasta) you will find coconut water vendors on the road side. So take a break from the fizzy drinks and go the natural way to Replenish Electrolytes by drinking coconut water.
It does not matter whether you are strolling, walking, running or just sitting and gazing at the rising sun listening to the natural melody of birds singing, there is something very pristine and serene about the stillness and freshness of a forest. There are different points in the park where one can rest depending on one’s physical fitness. A perfect place for family outing though you will need to wrap up before the Sun shines in all its glory. It is in fact a good place to take your young kids to explore the nature and get the feel of trekking.
Save It’s Soul
Last year, the citizens of Gurgaon were shocked to discover that the GMDA has proposed, and NHAI has endorsed the project for constructing a 6 lane highway cutting through the Aravali Biodiversity Park. As part of the Manesar-Gurgaon Road Connectivity Project, which will ruin the efforts of citizen and lakhs spent over a decade in reforestation.
The Road through the ABdP is in gross violation of our fundamental right to fresh air – apart from being highly suspect on several environmental, moral & civic grounds. The patch of the Road being planned is based on an obsolete survey Conducted by NHAI before full-fledged operation of NH-8 and before the new Fly-overs, Underpasses, etc. got operational. That was stalled, thankfully, but Aravali Biodiversity Park is still endangered…. and needs Gurgaonites to stand tall and firm in their efforts to save this oasis in the hustle full Gurgaon!
See native plants, their branching, flowering and fruiting as part of one of its kind study happening in town—the annual plant mapping activity at the Aravali Biodiversity Park, Gurugram. The mapping activity is conducted by ecologist Vijay Dhasmana.
Following massive protests and public outcry, the NHAI is examining alternatives to the two proposed link road projects which involved building a road through the Aravalli Biodiversity Park.
So when are you planning your visit to the Park ?
Aravalli’s Bio diversity park at a glance:
AREA : 576 acres
NEAREST METRO STATION: Guru Dronacharya Metro Station.
– For starters, Plenty and plenty of Fresh Air.
– 4-km long cycle track
– 3.5-km jogger’s track
– 500 seater amphitheatres ( Latika Thukral informs, the amphitheatre has housed many Social events )
– If you are a runner this is the best place for Hill Repeats, which will help to make you a stronger, faster and a healthier runner. The Gurgaon Road Runners organizes free runs in this park atleast once in two weeks.
Pets : Allowed (unless your pet is a fire breathing Dragon)
Fit for kids? : yes
Visit duration : 1 to 2 hours.
Park Timings : The park is Closed in the afternoon.
Entry Fees : Free
Parking : yes
Photography : Allowed
Food or water point : None inside or immediately outside the park
Restroom : Not Available