A group of runners covered 21K traversing the magnificent historical monuments and sites of Delhi. Here’s an account of their experience
Running happens to all of us for various reasons. And I say it happens, because for most of us it is a lost love that we discover much later in life, only to never let it go. We all are well aware of how our modern lifestyle has deprived us of the opportunities of making running an integral part of our lives. With all possible conveniences and amenities at our disposal, the need to run over to one place from another has almost become redundant. It is for the same reason why we get to discover running, and sooner than later fall in love with it. Besides many reasons for falling in love, one of the basic one is the fact that running doesn’t fail to surprise us at any given moment. Each day, on each run, it throws open newer surprises and challenges, newer excitements, and leaves us overwhelmed. I got on to one such experience last week with some of my running friends, which was not just overwhelming but educating and enthralling.
For someone who’s known Delhi, it is easier to relate and understand how we love various local delicacies. The experience of savouring them on the streets of Delhi is one-of-its-kind experiences. While the texture of urban city has changed a lot, it’s the Old Delhi which still hosts the historical eateries that have been there for generations and still dish out the same flavour which remains unparalleled. In one of the discussions with my running buddies, an inevitable turn in the thoughts lead us to talk about those delicacies and how we’ve missed them in the last few months due to restricted movement. All of this being at a mere distance of 9K from us was a further poke on our evasive demeanour. While the food easily held temptations, the 9K distance somehow didn’t ring the bell. Now the challenge was to increase the distance to 21K and make it well worth the extra 12K. We all know the historical background of Delhi, and how starting from its past, till date the city has established 8 times. While it has grown beyond each one of the historical cities in size today, the footprints are still evident and we couldn’t wait to revisit them all.
The thought was exciting, and in no time it had us scrambling through the maps and information on historical sites around us. Our home ground for the weekend runs, Lodi Garden, which itself is an important historical landmark and has various beautiful Lodi era monument, was chosen to be the start point. And the endpoint was duly marked at Fatehpur Masjid, in the heart of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi. Now the only job remaining was to plan the route to cover as many important places and run the distance of 21K. A little more insight and some juggling around had us plan the route covering 21 historically important monuments and run along four of the eight historical cities, including the current city.
Starting from the Lodi Garden, we turned around to touch upon the magnificent Safdurjung Tomb, and moved towards the glorious Humayun’s Tomb. Taking a turn from there we moved towards the sixth city in the history of Delhi, Shergarh, also known as Purana Qila. With monuments like Sher Shah Darwaza and ramparts of Old Fort around us, we moved ahead and turned in to view the majestic landmark of Lutyens Delhi, the India Gate. We ran around the geometric hexagon passing by some more colonial palaces and moved ahead to get into the modern burrows to see the 14th Century monument, Agrasen Ke Baoli, and the 18th Century observatory, Jantar Mantar a little ahead. Leading further to the grand colonnades of the Connaught Place, we moved on to cut towards the city of Djins, the Old Delhi.
Our first transit was the old city of Firozabad, build by Firozshah Tughlaq, as we ran further towards the Delhi Gate, marking the beginning of Shajanahbad. From this point, history wrapped around us at each step, the historical book market of Darya Gunj, the old Golcha Theater, the famous eatery Moti Mahal. Ahead of all this came the grand mosque, Jama Masjid. As we were closing in to the end of our run, we passed by the ever imposing mammoth Red Fort. This was the point we had to take left into the boulevard, fondly known as Chandni Chowk. This last stretch all the way till Fatehpuri Mosque was immersed in history. Each structure around us had a story of itself standing tall over the years. The Gauri Shankar Temple, the old SBI building, the Sees Gunj Gurudwara, the quaint Town Hall, and many more smaller buildings we passed by as we marched to the end of the road and stood in front of the old mosque, marking the end of our 21K run and a journey down the memory lane.
This was so much more than a run, but all made possible due to the love for running. A motley group of four friends ran across our city, reliving years of history in those two hours. We soaked in every moment, every part of years lived before. Of course, our caravan moved ahead to relish the favourite old Delhi food, something where it all had started.