Nagar Van: Get set to walk in the forest by Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake
If you want some quiet time in the woods free from the noise and pollution of urban life, step into the newly minted city forest aka ‘Nagar Van’.
Spread over 100 hectares in and around the lake reserve forest area, this oasis of calm broken only by the cries of peacocks and birdsong, is all set to be inaugurated this month. Tall green trees and brightly coloured flowers border a giant green gate that leads you to an open air gym to the right and a children’s park to the left.
Trees, living and carved, are the centrepiece of the park, says director of environment Santosh Kumar. There is miniature furniture carved out of trees, and eye-catching art work on a big trunk. “We plan to carve three or four more dead trees,” said a forest officer.
A dirt track leads you to the forest, which has more flecks of brown than green, and plenty of cannabis. The forest officer explains, “There are around 350 dead trees in this forest. We selected this area as we didn’t want to cut any trees to make a track. Over time, we will remove the dead wood and plant thrice the number of saplings,” said the officer, adding that this part of forest will turn lush green in three years.
Move deeper, and you encounter shallow water bodies, a meditation hut, and visitors’ shed.
An array of colourful birds, such as grey hornbill, peacocks, parrots, parakeets and junglefowl keep you company as you walk along.
On a good day early in the morning or at dusk, you might also spot barasingha (swamp deer), neelgai (blue bull), sambar deer, wild boar, jungle cat, and even hyena. But generally, these animals steer clear of humans. The forest is a wild-life habitat, and the track circles it in a way so as not to disturb the animals. “We made sure there is no restriction on the movement of animals due to this project,” said the officer.
The forest has a wide variety of ornamental and fruit bearing trees. The colourful amaltas and muskat trees cohabit with mango and bamboo groves, tall eucalyptus and bushy curry leaf trees. There are also kikar, peepul, palm, and shehtoot trees.
Around 50 workers and two foresters tend to the forest. Kumar hopes the visitors will also nurture it. City forest has been established under Nagar Van Udyan Yojna, which is an urban forestry scheme of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, New Delhi.