The perfect Delhi experience.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The tree leaves are black, the grass is orange, the ducks are wide awake, and there are very, very, very few people.
As part of The Delhi Walla’s series ‘100 Things to Do Before You Quit Delhi’, I ask you to take a walk in Lodhi Gardens at night. Actually, the park is closed a few hours after the sundown and re-opens only in the morning, but the small window of time between the sunset and the closing of gates is one of the most marvelous experiences that the world's most polluted city offers.
Enter the park after the last remaining traces of the twilight are lost to the world. Avoid the monuments--a Lodhi Gardens cliché. Stand on the Mughal-era Athpula stone bridge and gaze at the nearest lamp post. The trapped light within the glass-cover comes out softly; it throws itself grudgingly upon the darkness. You half-expect to see a teary-eyed woman standing under the post, reading a farewell letter by her cruel lover.
The way to the pond passes through a short track. If you are careful not to make a noise, you will see a colony of utterly quiet ducks clustered together beside the water; all still.
Another path runs along a series of gentle slopes. The uneven spread of lamplights turns the surroundings into a mystical panorama of shadows. The trees look papery; their black shapes on the grass feel more substantial instead. The bushes seem like some new exhibits at the National Museum of Modern Arts.
Walking beside the pond is terrifying, for the waters are on fire.
It is possible that suddenly you may stumble into one of those grand Lodhi Gardens tombs. Don't be disappointed. They, too, look unimaginably fantastical at this hour. This is because Lodhi Gardens at night is a wholly different land. You end up going far away from yourself.