City Walk – Hailey Road, Central Delhi
Loafing through calmness.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Tucked behind the commercial high-rises of a hectic Connaught Place, Hailey Road, by contrast, is utterly serene with its tree-lined pavements, unapproachable residences, scarce traffic, weather-beaten brick walls and a 14th century ruin.
It also has a place in contemporary Indian literature. The road—a house on it—was the setting of an Anuja Chauhan novel.
Not many people are aware of the fact that the avenue is named after a colonial-era administrator. Sir Malcolm Hailey served as the governor of Punjab and the United Provinces. The famous Jim Corbett National Park was originally named after him. Start the walk from the Iranian Embassy. Persian calligraphy is inscribed on its boundary walls. This is the closest you can imagine yourself to Tehran, or Isfahan, or Shiraz, or any other poetic-sounding Iranian city you fancy.
Now return to Delhi, and start your walk.
It is 9am and the world here is quiet, except for the twittering of koyals and crows. The ambiance is so moody that the sounds of passing cars and autos feel melodious to the senses.
Soon you will reach Asha Deep building. It has a handsome palm tree, which, if seen from a particular angle, appears taller than the multi-storey concrete structure. The adjacent bungalow always looked abandoned, with its driveway covered with wild grass. That house is gone, and a high-rise is being built on its place.
Hailey Road, however, is still left with a small bunch of beautiful bungalows, some of which are remarkably well-preserved.
Do not miss the area’s only chai shop beside a giant peepal tree. Popular with auto drivers, it serves delicious samosas. Further ahead is a turning that goes past the 14th century Agrasen ki Baoli step well. These days it is always crowded with selfie seekers. Avoid it if you don’t want to destroy your Hailey Road peace of mind.
The road soon ends and Kasturba Gandhi Marg begins.