Delhi Metro – Metro Spotting, Aastha Kunj Park
On the 20th anniversary of Delhi Metro.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Suddenly the silver-grey coaches of the Violet Line glints into view, far in the horizon (see photo). The train runs past a backdrop of high-rises. But the ground beneath the elevated tracks is a different universe—carpeted with grass, trees, flowers, and with folks lolling on the slopes with their mobiles, soaking in the December sun.
This has to be the most ideal spot to watch the millennium-era majesty of Delhi and its Metro. Aastha Kunj Park is a brief walk from Nehru Place Metro station. A new train appears after every two-three minutes. The rail tracks too look magical. They resemble a line drawn to keep the business towers from trespassing into the bucolic garden. The scene is all awe. Do we really live in such a cool city?
And yet. Despite its 12 lines, 20 years, 286 stations, 391 kms of network and millions of users, Delhi Metro haven’t created a legion of committed enthusiasts who might feverishly post photo-updates on Instagram about Metro routes, sights, coaches, stations, travellers. Anyhow, tomorrow’s trainspotters might start by checking out these destinations.
The Old Court Compound in north Delhi’s Kashmere Gate is a must-visit. The Red Line goes past the surviving fragments of the Purani Dilli wall. When the Tis Hazari-bound train rushes in, it appears to be running right over these Mughal-era fortifications. The sight is incredible.
An exciting spot exists at Lajpat Rai Marg. As the train exits the Lajpat Nagar station, and before it slopes down into the tunnel that will take it to Jangpura, it smoothly runs alongside the sluggish road traffic. This fraction of a minute speaks of speed and efficiency, making our Delhi look world-class.
Climb to any rooftop or balcony in Mehrauli and watch the Metro train slide smoothly along the elevated tracks of Yellow Line, with the centuries-old Qutub Minar reduced to a beautiful prop in the panorama.
In central Delhi’s Valmiki Sadan, multi-storey flats have their balconies saddled with household laundry. Lanes are peopled with residents doing their usual gupshup. Everything is ordinary. Until you detect, in the gaps between the apartment blocks, Blue Line trains whooshing along the adjacent tracks. The sight is thrilling.