City Walk – Vakeel Lane, Central Delhi
Stretch of stillness.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It has the quietness of a siesta hour.
Vakeel Lane is a short walk from the Colonial-era commercial district of Connaught Place. But you will not believe it. The air here is fresher. There is no noise except for the light twittering of birds. The road remains empty most of the time. And the Connaught Place skyscrapers look as remote as a distant hill range.
Start the walk at the point where the lane meets Kasturba Gandhi Marg. Both sides of the alley are lined with boundary walls and back entrances of bungalows, apartments and high-rise offices. Some weather-beaten walls are sliced into tall grilled windows. A few of these are fitted with air-coolers – they look like spies.
The ambiance changes as you walk ahead. The greenery thickens. Discarded furniture and abandoned idols lie on the roadside – Hindus don’t keep broken gods at home.
A torn leather sofa lies resignedly amidst wild shrubs. Close by, a tree has crashed its way through a brick wall. Here and there pink bougainvilleas roll about in drunken bliss
What is the story behind the lane’s name? Vakeel means lawyer, but no black-coats are to be seen.
A few gates exude hostility with such tired lines:
Beware of Dogs
One wall threatens with a warning by the New Delhi Municipal Council:
DUMPING OF MALBA HERE
IS PROHIBITED LEGAL
ACTION WILL BE TAKEN
AGAINST THE DEFAULTER
Stop at the first turning on the left. The board of Delhi Waqf Board marks the entrance to a Sufi shrine. Look for the caretaker if the door is locked. It leads to a hillock fertile with tangled thickets of weeds, grasses, bushes and dry leaves. The surrounding trees have a great number of aerial roots that lie suspended like a theater curtain.
The tomb of Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari is of green tiles. The ascetic is said to have lived here about a century ago. The tin roof looks forlorn.
Further down the lane is a Delhi Development Authority park, which has two swings and a disposition that is drenched in sleepiness.
The area has a couple of makeshift ironing stalls, manned by people with old creased faces. The sole vegetable vendor passes his day lying on the pavement with a copy of Dainik Jagran. He is patronized by Vakeel Lane residents. One of the apartment complexes houses the staffers of the nearby Russian Cultural Center.
The walk ends on Barakhamba Road. There, The Delhi Walla saw a man pissing on the lane’s green signboard.
Where Between Kasturba Gandhi Marg and Barakhamaba Road Best Time Afternoon Nearest Metro Station Barakhamba
Walking far from the city