What’s so different about the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road? A non-resident would probably say, “What’s in a road? It just connects Gurgaon and Faridabad.” But ask a Gurgaon resident and it will put a smile on his (or her) face.
Gurgaon-Faridabad Road, fondly known as GFR or ‘pahadi rasta’ to Gurgaon residents, is a 22km stretch that connects these two Haryana cities.
It was famously portrayed in the Bollywood film NH-10 (2015), featuring Anushka Sharma and Neil Bhoopalam, but what happens on this road is nothing like the movie. It’s full of adventure on weekend mornings.
The GFR starts at Bristol Chowk, passes through DLF Phase 1, intersects with the road connecting MG Road to Golf Course Road.
The intersection was once infamously named ‘Kachhra Chowk’, as a lot of garbage and debris lined the sides of the road, until an NGO came to the rescue, beautified the crossing and renamed it ‘Khushboo Chowk’. The stretch from MG Road to Golf Course Road has also been unofficially named ‘Sunset Boulevard’.
From this point on, GFR has the green ridges of the Aravallis on either side. The road then goes past the crossing that links it to Golf Course Road, known as the Belaire Hills, followed by the Ghata crossing.
It takes a sharp dip thereon, named Tiger Hill by runners and cyclists, and snakes past Valley View Apartments, Terigram before arriving at the toll gates that lead beyond Mangar village, just outside Gurgaon city and onto Faridabad.
At the crack of dawn on most Sunday mornings, my group of running buddies gathers at Qutub Plaza in DLF Phase-1 as we prepare to run up and down GFR. It’s our training ground for the Delhi Marathon, Mumbai Marathon and all other running events that we participate in round the year.
GFR is the ideal training ground for long-distance runners as it has an undulating stretch, with flat, downhill and uphill zones. Not surprising then that on Saturdays and Sundays, you will see runners from various clubs and groups on this road.
What’s more, an NGO that promotes running has organised hydration stations to supply water and energy drinks to quench the thirst of the runners on weekend mornings for free.
The runners are not the only ones who enjoy the slopes of Gurgaon-Faridabad Road.
Groups of cyclists, in their colourful jackets, padded pants, helmets et al, ride down the road all the way to Faridabad and back.
And just as dawn breaks, you can hear the roar of motorbikes — Harleys, Hayabusas, Royal Enfields, KTMs and BMWs.
Hundreds of bikers vroom, zoom and boom on this road. The bikers, dressed in black leather jackets and boots with safety gear and helmets, enjoy the power of their bikes on the four-lane stretch with less traffic.
The four-wheelers are not far behind either. Often, you can find members of the Northern India Offroad Club driving past in their souped-up Thars, Jeeps, Hummers, fitted with safety cages, turning off the road at some point to enjoy their mean four-wheelers.
Groups that promote walking also go off this road on hiking trails through the Aravallis to Mangar lake and other smaller lakes that dot the Aravallis. Almost all these groups gather at a chai and breakfast point on this road at the end of their weekend adventure.
The communities of Gurgaon’s adventurers have great camaraderie — waving to each other, the cyclists and runners hi-fiving each other and wishing each other a good day.
And of course, sharing details of their walk/run/bike ride/off-roading experience when they all meet over bun maska and chai at a popular dhaba along the road named Throttle Shrottle.
This joint has grown from a small shack to a big café, catering to the needs of hungry Gurgaon hikers and roadies. The café is done up in a rustic manner using discarded parts of motorcycles and other vehicles.
Weekends are fun days on GFR. Perhaps, it’s time to rename it the Gurgaon Fun Road!
(Vidya Deshpande is a former-journalist-turned-travel curator. She is part of walking, running and cycling groups and runs her own travel company for women.)