Last year you figured out that Holi is probably the only day in Delhi when the city is lulled into a languid stupor after a morning of splash of colours. Driving in the afternoon of Holi almost recreates Delhi of your childhood – wide tree-lined flowery boulevards with almost no people or vehicles to be seen.
|Vijay Chowk, New Delhi|
It is a day to go on another nostalgia trip and maybe discover few more gems on the way.
You decide to take the same route you took last year - driving from Noida and then taking the Nizamuddin bridge to bring you to India Gate. Wait a minute, you just read that Bhairon Marg connecting Mathura Road to Ring Road has caved in. No problem, you will take the Kalindi Kunj barrage to Nehru Place and GK-I - places you associate with your college days.
|Noida is growing vertically in both directions. Construction of skyscrapers, malls, new metro lines, elevated roads and new townships is going on at a furious pace - a funky underpass in Noida|
|You don't remember taking the beverage associated with Holi. Finally the underpass connecting Sarita Vihar to Okhla is ready. Now you can zoom to Tughlaqabad and Alaknanda on your weekly trips|
|After weaving magic on the walls of Lodhi Colony, St+Art has turned its attention to the metro stations. Here Govindpuri Metro Station is getting a makeover - Artist Agostino Iacurci from Italy|
|Most single screen cinema halls are disappearing. You remember watching Urmila shake it in Daud! - Paras Theatre in Nehru Place before they pull it down or convert it into another multiplex|
|The Savitri Cinema Hall in GK-II was shut down for few years and has now opened as DT Cinemas. You remember watching Ghayal, Sunny Deol's best and one of the best Hindi movies ever|
|Besides Chanakya, Priya and theatres in CP, Archana in Greater Kailash Part I was the place where cool people hung out. Now it has been turned into something unrecognisable|
From the Oberoi Hotel you turn right on Dr Zakir Hussain Marg. The Golf Course is on the left where luxury cars head into the wooded grounds. You know there are a bunch of monuments inside but for a commoner like you they are out of bounds.
And then like it always happens. You see these red sandstone domes just beyond the boundary walls. The sign confirms this is a Mughal era complex which goes by the name of Lal Bangla. You leave the car outside and enter the Delhi Golf Club through Gate 1. On the left steps lead you to the enclosure. Set amidst trees the trees are two tombs. What a surprise - you must have passed this stretch hundred times but you never saw these!
|Lal Bangla Tombs in Golf Course - one of the tombs has two graves of mother and daughter of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II (1759-1806)|
And then comes the surprise - standing on the roof of one of the tombs you can see the fairways of the golf course stretching into the distance as players tee off. Delhi Golf Club is Delhi's oldest and most prestigious golf clubs.
A round of India Gate Circle is de riguer.
Barakhamba Road is couple of kms away. Will go check out your school. Of course they wont let you in now. Opposite is the Hailey Road which will take you to the now suddenly very popular Agrasen ki Baoli.
You come back into the Lutyens zone as you make your way towards Chanakya Puri.
|Holi Revellers have the road to themselves|
New Delhi with its trees looks beautiful any time of the year. In March, the awe metre ratchets up a few notches. It seems the trees are celebrating all the seasons at the same time. Some trees are bare, some have these iridescent soft leaves of all hues and some trees look resplendent in delectable green. The cotton silk trees are decorated with red flowers.
Five Shades of New Delhi
Five Shades of New Delhi
|Christian Cemetery at Prithviraj Road. The complex has Jewish and Parsis cemeteries too which you plan to explore next|
|So while Aurangzeb Road has been renamed, Aurangzeb Lane has survived! You are not a great fan of this renaming business|
Now you are making your way from Race Course Road to Vinay Marg and to your school.
|My School - Naval School in Chanakya Puri where you studied upto tenth|
|Roundabout at the intersection of Shanti Path and Kautilya Marg where you climbed these trees a long time ago|
You are at Teen Murti where you grew up.
|Our usual route opposite Traffic Police Lines into the President Estate on our way to get milk from South Avenue market|
The Gyarah Murtis commemorating Dandi March stand where once was a fountain with colourful lights. You can still feel the spray on your face on hot summer evenings. It must have been late seventies when the fountain was pulled down around the same time when President Jimmy Carter drove by standing and waving at us school kids in his open Cadillac. Those were the days. In a few years Delhi would burn and bleed.
After soaking in the memories of your childhood, you are on your way to Dhaula Kuan. You had seen the most beautiful and immaculately maintained cemetery in Kohima commemorating Commonwealth soldiers who died fighting Japanese in the WW II. Recently, you found out that there is a similar cemetery in Delhi! You need to explore Delhi Cantonment today.
But first you need to make a slight detour. Beyond Dhaula Kuan, you turn right into Cariappa Marg. Few metres ahead you make a left into Brijlal Dua Marg. The first surprise rises majestically in the school grounds. This is the massive and different looking brick St. Martin's Church.
Now you are back on the Ring Road driving towards Naraina. Few kilometres ahead you make an U-Turn just beyond the under construction Brar Square metro station. On the left you come to a railway crossing. You don't remember last when you waited at a railway station in Delhi! It looks like this would take time. The goods train is delivering some locomotives from Tughlakabad yard. You hang around the level crossing cabin. Few more people join in. You are getting late to discover that cemetery.
"Oh you want to go to the cemetery? Why don't you use the underpass few yards away!" One of the driver finally helps you out. "My Tempo Traveller can't make it through. I will have to wait." Thanks Dude!
You arrive at this impressive colonnaded gate. This is the Delhi War Cemetery run by UK Government's Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There is something about young men taken away in the prime of their youth that even the breeze tiptoes around where they rest. While this cemetery is deep inside the deserted Delhi Cantt you felt the same tranquillity in tumultuous Kohima where the cacophony of the city became a low hum as you walked around the graves. You are at peace here. Walking around cemeteries lulls your mind into a comforting quietness - as if the constantly running thoughts in the mind finally want to pause and rest.
You are driving towards another part of Delhi you haven't seen yet. This is west of the ridge. You are going to see the Pusa area.
|It has been cloudy most of the day and now suddenly blue appears with streaks of white - Ridge Road, New Delhi|
You come back to North Avenue beyond Talkatora and Lohia Hospital. You need to go back to Talkatora Gardens one of these days and look for this chattri.
|In New Delhi everything is green and leafy - even the mobile tower|
In the distance, on Pandit Pant Marg you can see the Gole Dak Khana and over it the familiar facade. It is Maundy Thursday at Sacred Heart Cathedral, the day before Good Friday. There is a service happening in the lawns with kids and priests lined up under the setting sun. You spend a few minutes here.
|St. Columba's School|
The evening is spent at Vijay Chowk as the sun sinks behind Rashtrapati Bhawan and the fountains light up.
House at Vijay Chowk, New Delhi|
|Vijay Chowk, New Delhi|
Another wonderful year has gone by. In the past year you have visited places so far away and so exotic that you have to pinch yourself and go through the photo albums just to tell yourself that you were not dreaming. It could be cleanest and floweriest village in Meghalaya or driving into the most memorable of sunsets in Kutch, but your heart beats for the city you were born in and grew up in. Delhi is home and the anchor that brings you back from your wanderlusts.
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