“Don’t go there alone. It is quite unsafe.” said everyone from people to news articles.
“Our maids use it because it connects Govindpuri to Greater Kailash and Alaknanda region during the day but avoid it post 5pm.”
The vastness and the anti-social narrative of the place is intriguing enough to call for a visit to the Jahapanah city forest. It has multiple entry points from Sheikh Sarai, Govindpuri, Tughlaqabad, and Chirag Delhi etc. You can take the Gate no. 1, opposite Don Bosco School in Greater Kailash 2 as it is quite close to the M-block market.
Maintained by the Delhi Development Authority the forest gates open from 5 am to 10am in the morning and 4pm to 6pm in the evening. Once you enter you will feel as if you are in a well maintained park than a forest. Frankly speaking the jogging tracks and the presence of too many people will make you feel that you are at the right place. Walking a little further you reach an open gym where you will see women of all age groups. Little girls accompanying their mothers, middle aged women, adolescent girls and few men.
Source : Hidden Pockets Youtube Channel
It is a sight that will leave you gaping. It is that unbelievable.
But what one wonders is that; isn’t this place supposed to be unsafe? How come the google never leads one to this open gym? Why isn’t this a part of people’s narrative about the place? Why do people discourage coming here at all?
As you approach the women, exercising vigorously you will that find they come here in the afternoon. It’s their time. Earlier they used to come here for a walk, to meet friends and now they come to exercise their lungs out at the gym. The gym got inaugurated in Feb 2016 by Member of Parliament Mrs. Meenakshi Lekhi.
The women came from various parts of Delhi; Sangam Vihar, Govindpuri, and Tughlaqabad etc. For them this gym has given them the much needed ‘reason’ to their daily walk. Now they have made it a point to visit the city forest everyday. They wait for their turns and maintain the decorum of the open gym. You can sit and try your hands at the biceps/triceps building machine! The gym has the arm machine for both men and women which I was informed about while trying out the men one unknowingly.
Since nothing is written on it you might wonder how one knows which one is for whom? One of the women there said that she figured it out based on the weight of the machine. So she assumed that the heavier one was for men. Asking further about the other machines she added that most of them are unisex apart from the arm ones. She mentioned that she is a homemaker and that afternoon is her time of the day which she uses to loiter around the city forest and exercise.
One never thought that an open gym can bring out so many women. It’s a pleasure pocket amidst the city for these homemakers. It has turned their afternoon siesta time into a fiesta.
You can take different gates and see how the view and feel of the place changes. The gate no. 7 has a Dargah the moment you enter and that has a more foresty feel to it. But that too is used by people from all age groups alike. The city forest becomes a melting pot of sorts and makes the city dwellers converse with each other. It gives both access to the various pockets of Delhi, the free open gym, and the people. You will love the diversity. You will find that it is a pleasure pocket and not one to be feared off.
It also makes you think how a rumour can stop you from venturing out. So stop believing them until you visit the place yourself. I have started doing that. And believe me, Jahapanah City Forest has been a unique experience because of the open gym and the friendly women around.
You go there once, you will keep going back!
Photo Credit: Pallavi