A nature walk at Asola Wildlife Sanctuary (A photo-blog by Atanu Dey)

I was quite surprised to know that there exists a wild life sanctuary right in the middle of Delhi. Okay, technically it is between Delhi and Faridabad and also one cannot really expect to see ferocious yellow-and-black striped feline beasts roaming in this place. Nevertheless, the place offers opportunities for long walks leading to a number of lakes which are almost hidden and therefore yet not completely tourist-and-popcorn ridden. This is the place where the Delhi Karavan team decided to take us on a winter morning. 
We assembled in front of the Manav Rachna University in Faridabad and entered the Asola sanctuary from the Faridabad side. The walk initially seemed rather easy and the routes pretty well defined. We were, in fact, surprised to find the Delhi Karavan people tying some marker ribbons on trees at a regular interval - lest we forget the route. We reached the first lake quite quickly.

Lovely view but no wild life as such, unless you consider this gentleman and some of his fellow comrades who seem to infest this place.

I am sure, this group of primates have plenty of experience with shutter-happy walkers and they were rather nonchalant about it. We spent some time here and decided to move on.
The second lake was also quite near - on the opposite side of the road and also quite beautiful.

Neither of the lakes seemed to have any easy access by which one can go down and sit by the lake with one's feet in the water (not that I had any inclination of trying such daredevil stuff in Delhi winters but one likes to complain anyway). We were promised that the "final" lake (meaning the lake at our final destination point) will provide us with such opportunities. 
These lakes are man made ones which probably got created due to excessive mining in this area. Some degree of illegal mining still continues and we were told that this sanctuary is also a sanctuary for smugglers who use this as a transit route from Faridabad to Delhi (avoiding the border tolls). 
Next stop was near a hillock predominantly made of sand and the hilltop is supposed to provide an "awesome" view. In reality, the view isn't all that great but climbing up this hillock was great fun due to the sands which constantly seem to disappear below one's feet. Climbing down was also fun but many of us needed some support which were provided by the extremely caring and thoughtful team of Delhi Karavan.

After this, things started becoming interesting. The route took us through thorny jungles and soon we had plenty of thorn-pricks in various parts of our body. These thorns seem to have the ability to pierce denim so even our jeans (which, in my mind, is the ultimate protection against everything) were not able to protect us. A couple of missed turns and for a short while we were lost in the jungle. And eventually, after a while, we found our way to our destination. 
Photo credit : Monidipa Dey

The lake is truly beautiful. There are hardly any persons over there and the sandy clay creates a nice "beach" effect out there. We sat over there for a while, nursing our bruised arm and feet and munching Samosas and Kachoris. The younger crowd hit for the waters, wetting their feet, splashing water at each other and generally making merry. 

After a while, we turned back and returned (after getting lost once again in the process). The return journey, predictably seemed long and far but at the end, despite the painful ankles, we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Do's and don'ts for such a trip :

1. Start early. Preferably be there at 7 or 7:30. This will allow you to have more time at the lake. Also early morning would also give opportunities to photographers to click some insects or birds.
2. Travel in a group with at least 1-2 persons who knows the place: It is quite easy to get lost in this place and quite often you do not get mobile signal inside the park. Also a chance meeting with the smugglers inside the park may not be a very charming encounter. 
3. Wear full sleeve shirt / t-shirt / jacket. The way is a "thorny" one and there will be more than one pricks at the end of journey. Better to protect as much body part as possible. 
4. Wear proper shoes and not flip flops. The walk is around 4 km one way and with detour etc, you will end up walking around 9 - 10 km. Not an easy job on fancy slippers. 
5. Go with a spirit of adventure and fun and not with an expectation to watch plenty of wild life and great pictures. This is more of a picnic / nature walk than a safari. You will enjoy it more if you do not build up un-achievable expectations. 

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