January-1 has always been special, neither because the day before is a party day, nor because it is holiday time throughout the world but because it provides another chance to every human every year to start afresh. Whatever positive or negative habits, hobbies one has got into previous year, this day lets everyone believe that this day is a renaissance day leaving everything of past aside. I agree that most of the new year resolutions are created to be broken with-in a day but the enthusiasm it provides to human psychology to correct themselves on their own is worth savouring and most exciting to me.
Just like I have been doing from past 2 years (will write a separate blog on 2016's beginning), I thought of starting this year differently. This time the beginning meant a celebration of our loving hobby - cycling which we have begun to spread in the little world around us. Yeah, our brainchild "The Btwin Diaries" thought of adding one more chapter with a New Year Ride - A ride from History to Arts by the Engineers :). The ride was relatively small one-approx 25 km in cold wintery morning of Delhi from IIT Delhi to Purana Qila ( or Old Fort) and the nearby Crafts Museum with a meal at one of the finest restaurants in Delhi - Cafe Lota who specially care to open at 8 am even in these North Indian winters.
After much deliberation of how much late we can start in winters, the four of us Rajesh, Prathmesh, Sakshi and myself confirmed to begin the pedalling st￼art to a new year on January-1, 2017 at 6.45 pm from Mother Dairy gate. Laced with gloves, caps and 2-3 layer of clothes, we began following the most familiar route. Passing the Hauz Khas Metro Station, we turned towards Siri-Fort Road. The roads were relatively empty with very little traffic through out the route. Passing the Shahpur Jat village, Decathlon Khelgaon, JLN stadium we kept heading straight till we reached the Lodi Road. Taking a right turn at Lodi Road towards Nizammuddin, we headed to Mathura Road passing the DPS Mathura Road to reach our destination - Purana Qila or Old Fort. It is situated at a distance of 2 km from India Gate and share the same entrance from road with Delhi Zoo. We parked our cycles at the parking of Delhi Zoo.
Purana Qila is one of the oldest forts of Delhi built by Sher Shah Suri in 16th century. The walls of fort marking its periphery are around 20 metre high with a lake situated near by where people enjoy boating in afternoon. Although not greatly restored by ASI - Archaeological Survey of India as other monuments like Humayun's tomb, this majestic fort looks good even in its old glory. The interesting aspect of Purana Qila is that you get to witness a number of old structures at one place from Bada Darwaza to Baolis to Hamams each with its own technical details and stories attached.
One of the stories goes by this -Humayun, the son of Babar and father of Akbar had used one of these buildings as his reading room. As the story tells, on hearing prayer bells, he hurriedly descended from this reading room and fell from stairs, succumbing to injuries three days later. The story tells that even though one is an emperor, when death knocks, it makes its entry from the unexpected quarters.
We entered the fort from the West Gate and roamed the fort starting from the left wall. The periphery wall of the fort was magnificent with multiple layers. After stopping at a few photograph spots, we headed towards the backside wall of the fort. This is the most adventurous part of journey though a bit risky. We keep walking on the 20 metre high wall all on the back side, to find that it was at one point only less than 2 feet thin, it was dangerous and hence adventurous to cross through that small hurdle. We carefully headed one at a time crossing that treacherous stretch on the boundary wall. After that there was a beautiful spot waiting for us .
After roaming in the fort for some more time, the gourmets in us told us that this is enough of history, time for some food. Infact, a few of us have strong motivation for cycle trips is to try out different breakfasts in Delhi and around. This time we headed to one of the unique places in Delhi which offers a perfect blend of fusion food from India and west with each item unique in its preparation. Cafe Lota is situated with-in the premises of Crafts and Art Museum, Pragati Maidan. Zomato rates it above 4 and it matches our expectations. With special Mini-Idli , Poha, Banana Pan cakes , they have 8-9 different breakfast items with each item very different from its normal preparation. The ambience is a beautiful and it could be one of awesome places for a breakfast date as well as a business meeting .
After having breakfast and satiating our stomachs, we thought of taking a look in arts and crafts museum. It presents a strong culture of paintings, arts and crafts through out India with each state offering a unique style of paintings and arts works.
From Madhubani paintings of Odisha to unique pashmina shawls of Kashmir, this place is another way to pass through the fabric of diversity in each form which our country intertwines in a single culture. It has always been difficult to appreciate art for most of the engineers but this place has something for everyone which you will enjoy.
At the same time, conversing with artists from all these varied locations was an altogether different experience. Rajesh belonging to Orissa started conversing in the local language with the artists from there which not only added an extra smile on artists from there but gave an extra enthusiasm in our queries. I have always felt in spite of knowing English or Hindi as a common platform, the extra synergy is restored only from our local ethos, culture and language.
Over these many trips, Cycling has opened a new pandora box to explore the rich history of Delhi Sultanate and North India. This trip brought us closer to another dimension from which a lot many of us are quite far, Arts. Though I in particular could not appreciate the much finer details of art but this new hobby is bringing us closer to many dimensions of life and opening up new possibilities for other pastimes if not for us but for our near and dear ones. Adios till our next travelogue for our cycling sojourns.