10 Running tracks in Delhi NCR for you to run on a lovely morning, the places which are worth exploring and natural beauty of which motivates you to run farther!
1. Aravalli Biodiversity Park (Vasant Vihar/Vasant Kunj)
Now this place is really beautiful and clean.The best part is that the number of visitors is fairly low even on weekends, so there is no need to wait for people to move out of your way or make way for people when you run.The track is mostly a thin layer of gravel over sand and it has a good mix of minor uphills and downhills and it’s good for training your legs which may have become accustomed to the flat surface of treadmills and the roads/pavements that Delhi has to offer.
The track begins at Vasant Vihar and ends at Vasant Kunj (near TERI University) or vice versa. If you keep running on the track (from the Vasant Vihar green gate till the Vasant Kunj black gate) then the distance is around 2.25 kms. You can even run on the lesser used trails inside the forest area, but just don’t use them during monsoons because snakes and other critters are quite common.
Because its a biodiversity park, DDA uses it to protect certain plant/tree varieties. All along, both sides of the track are surrounded by protected and unprotected flora. All kinds of birds even a few rare species can be seen here. Frequently you’ll have the pleasure of hearing peacocks/peahens and then see them flutter away as your feet carry you closer to them. Then on rare occasions you’ll see jackals, mongooses and hares cross your path neurotically. The park is open till 7:30 pm during summers and 6:30 pm in winters.The park is patrolled by security guards and is quite safe.
2. Sanjay Van (Qutub Institutional Area/Vasant Kunj)
Hands down, the best place to run in Delhi. The forest is immense and long runs become a breeze here.Similar to Aravalli Biodiversity Park. Running surface is gravel track. Few uphills and downhills. Lots of trails. A few Mughal era monuments in between. There are parallel bars and pull up bars. Animal sighting is restricted to peacocks/peahens, jackals, dogs etc.
If you want to train for any race which will have a significant number of uphills then Sanjay Van is the place to use. Enter it from the Aruna Asaf Ali Gate and then read the directions to reach Tejender Point. The Tejendra Point loop is about 2.25 kms long and every loop will provide you with 15 metres of elevation gain. Bicycles are allowed so if you have a mountain bike then do take it for a spin here but beware of punctures.
To reach this park either you can enter from the gate on Asaf Ali Road or from Qutab Institutional Area (near FORE School of Management) or from Lado Sarai (opposite the petrol pump). The Aruna Asaf Ali gate is hard to find and there is no parking space. I would recommend entering from the Qutab Institutional Area gate.
3. DDA Park/Rose Garden (right next to DDA Park, IIT gate)
If there had not been a petrol pump between the DDA Park, IIT gate and this garden then this would have been a part of DDA Park, IIT gate. Running surface is again made of gravel. Lots of shade from the overhanging branches. Its called rose garden because of the small well maintained park which has rose shrubs that greet you as soon as you enter the main gate.
4. Manger Forest/Kaderpur/Damdama
Starting on Gurgaon Faridabad Road (GFR) this trail will take you all the way to Damadama Lake. It is scenic and difficult. Difficult due to the elevation and undulated terrain. From GFR to Damdama lake, the distance is approximately 14km. Be prepared and take a hydration pack with water, bananas, chocolates and gels.
You can always choose to wander on the trails and do all sorts of variations. There is a nicely elevated loop in Kaderpur (which can also be accessed from the Golf Course Extension Road). This loop is my favorite and it is a little more than 5kms with decent elevation. You can even see the Indian Army Cross Country Team training here.
5. Asola/Bhatti Mines
This is where the Bhatti Lakes Ultra is held. Entry is from the Kant Enclave barricade on Surajkund Road.The trail if taken without deviating, goes from the Kant Enclave entrance till Manav Rachna University in Faridabad (i.e. back to the main road). The total distance from the Kant Enclave gate till Manav Rachna is about 11 km.
The terrain is more barren and tougher than Manger due to the lack of usage by people and elevation. Again, a hydration pack with food and water is recommended. The trail is interspersed with lakes. These lakes are basically abandoned mines in which rain water has accumulated. The water is clean and many people swim there. The most famous and accessible lake is Lake Bhardawaj.
6. Southern Ridge Forest (near Ridge Road/Talkatora Stadium/Earth Station)
If you’re alright with a little bit of horse shit (literally) then this trail is beautiful. Entry is from the Earth Station side. Just beware of the monkeys from the main road where you’ll take a left and till the start of the trail at the end on your right.
7. DDA Compensatory Plantation (Dwarka) (Referred to as Mana Trail by Dwarka Runners)
Hands down, this is the best place to run in Dwarka.It’s near Sector 16C Dwarka and adjacent to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University Campus.Follow Golf Course Road and you’ll find it. The Campus and the park share the same wall.It is a 3.77 km loop of what may be called a trail. Basically just soft earth. It is a compensatory plantation by DDA, so the greenery is mesmerizing.The surface is uneven at some places but normal road shoes will be enough. No need for trail shoes. Not many people come here but do not be afraid to run alone. It’s beauty pivots on the lack of a crowd.
8.Jahanpanah City Forest (Near Greater Kailash-1, Alaknanda, Don Bosco School etc.)
Lots of space to run and less people so again no need to wait for people to move or to move for them. Running surface is mostly cement or road (mortar) with milestones after every few hundred metres.
If you enter from the GK-I/Don Bosco gate then inside the “city forest” you’ll find a sign post using which you can choose whether you want to go towards Sheikh Sarai or Tughlakabad or Don Bosco School. Almost all of the routes are similar with lots of uphills and downhills.
However the benefit of choosing Sheikh Sarai is that at the end of it you find a short gravel track which has ‘a parallel bar, pull up bars and something which can be described as a thick iron oval like structure, 20 feet high, resembles a skipping rope at its topmost position but fixed into the earth’ or ‘an inverted U but with the vertical poles curving inwards’.Now this inverted U is really cool. You have to climb it, if your upper body permits, only using your hands or you can monkey crawl on it but when you reach the middle then you have to let go of your legs and change directions (yeah…..nice adrenaline rush).
Timings of this park are a little troublesome. It opens up early in the morning (5-6 am) and then closes at 11-12 pm. Then opens up again at 4-5 pm and then closes at 7 pm. I’m not sure of the time so try to go at a neutral time between the time slots that I have mentioned.
9. Kamla Nehru Ridge (Civil Lines)
It is a decent trail and concrete mix near North Campus. DDA is keeping it in a decent shape. Usually crowded, but you can extract a decent workout. It has a fair amount of elevation so your legs will receive some usual elevation running gains.Again, like Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park and Sanjav Van, you can sight see the ancient monuments while running. I’ve heard that the monkeys are a menace there so beware of our ancestors while exercising there!
10. Okhla Bird Sanctuary
A lot of friends have run here before but I haven’t. I have always heard great reviews about it and the pictures taken by runners of the place are magnificent. The sanctuary is owned by the state of Uttar Pradesh, this place is known for the varied fauna.
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