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A mystery unsolved

When a regular east Delhi park becomes a forgotten place of worship.

entertainment Updated: Sep 29, 2010 01:25 IST

There are many buts about this place. It is thick with woods and grass, but the padding is too thin to screen the traffic noise (Mathura Road is next door). It has hillocks, tombs and a ruin, but the entire area is so small that you could cover it in ten minutes. The signboard outside calls this place a Delhi Development Authority (DDA) Park, but its character is too elusive for such an honour.

You jump over a hedge to enter. Inside- trees, bushes, but no flowers, no lovers. The ground is cloaked in overgrown grass, but you’ll soon notice a narrow path snaking through the terrain.

Looking around, it all seems untamed, but does not feel wild. If you climb over the rocks to the top of the hillock, you’ll be surrounded on all sides by giant Neem trees, their branches bowing to three tombs: all draped with colourful chaadars. One tomb is said to belong to Peer Saheb, a Sufi saint.

Who was this man? Why was he buried here? While struggling with such questions, you might get distracted by the ruin, a few steps away, at the ‘far’ end of the park. When I walked in there, three government clerks were playing cards under its chhatri. They had no idea about its history.

But is it necessary to enquire, always? It is considered civilised to give a landmark a date, a narrative, a purpose. So, in a city having no ambiguities, a garden will always be quiet, a tomb will always belong to a saint, a wreckage will always have a history. There is no patience for incomplete details.

But that precisely is the attraction of this DDA Park. It is right here, yet hidden in unknowns; its beauty as flawed as this city. It is an urban oasis, but it does not bar the urbanities less pretty intrusions. The smog of Mathura Road never leaves your breath completely.

There even lurks the nervous thrill of bumping into an ‘anti-social’ element.In a way, this DDA Park encapsulates Delhi’s essence- ruins, trees, tombs and men, striking an unsatisfactory compromise with the Capital’s difficult life.

You must come here, but will you?
Where: Just opposite Purana Qila, next to the cantonment

First Published: Sep 28, 2010 17:49 IST