City Walk – An Unusual Route, From Barakhamba Traffic Light to Turkman Gate
A contrasting world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Let us go, you and I, when early evening splays the skies. To set forth on a surprising stroll that reveals storied wealth uneasily nudged by gross poverty.
The walk takes no more than 30 minutes, starting at Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s statue at the Barakhamba traffic light. Embarking after sundown (for reasons that will become clear soon), walk on the flyover.
On your right are the vast grounds of Modern School handsomely designed in the 1930s. Just to the left is the 5-star LaLit, where some rooms are already glowing in lamplight. Sometimes you’ll spot the silhouettes of hotel guests — a harmless adventure in minor voyeurism.
Walking across the bridge over railway tracks keep to the left until you spot the faraway platforms of Tilak Bridge railway station. From this distance, the waiting commuters look like tiny apparitions.
The bridge itself is a favoured rendezvous for young men from congested Old Delhi who find their way on bikes and sit on the railings. They’re liable to pluck away on guitar strings or inevitably snap selfies, or just chatter. As the flyover descends, you’ll encounter a vast colony of tents below.
Homes to labourers working at nearby construction sites—new multi-storey buildings are coming up here. Nearly each and every tent glows.
Further ahead are those telltale scenes of loneliness. Rickshaw pullers sleeping in their vehicles, homeless men sitting quietly on the pavement or road dividers. Coming up next is the Ramlila Maidan fairground, now shrouded in darkness. Soon after, we reach our destination at Turkman Gate.
Just beyond is the Walled City where another world for another walk beckons.