“Well, I can’t stop you if you want to go… but be careful as things can happen…”, said the local guy we came across at the entry point with the usual smugness of the Delhi NCR folks. Sorry for the stereotyping but anyone familiar with the city would recognize that tone.
Desolated and pristine lakes are not something one expects to see anywhere near Delhi. However, those who like to explore have been aware of many such entities over the years. Most of them are found outside the southern border of the city, in Haryana. Some of the more famous ones include Damdama and Badkhal. But today I am talking about the practically nameless ones inside the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary on the border of Delhi and Faridabad.
I started early on a cold December morning and reached Badarpur Metro Station. From there, a bus took me to Prahladpur crossing where I made the rendezvous with a couple of eccentric Delhi musicians as planned (Here is an example of their work). We took an Autorickshaw to the Manav Rachna University. The unmarked and innocuous-looking trail starts just opposite the sprawling university campus. The trail is also visible on the Google Maps in case anyone is wondering.
Apart from the desolation, partly the charm of these lakes lies in the lawless nature of the area. New constructions notwithstanding, this is primarily a jungle area where any crime can be easily committed. Apparently, most smugglers and bootleggers also avoid the highway and use these jungle trails to enter Delhi. The primary vegetation on this rugged terrain is a certain kind of thorny plant that does not make the task easier. Overall, it reminded me of the ravines of Chambal, another area with a history of violence and lawlessness.
Nevertheless, we moved on and soon arrived at the first lake. But we left it for later as we were eager to see how far one can go. The arid Aravallis make one thirsty very quickly. So, we were feeling tired by the time we reached the second lake. However, it was a bigger one and had a very pleasant bluish-green shade. After some effort, we found the way down to the edge of the lake from the trail which is located at a higher altitude. All these lakes were created as a result of mostly illegal mining activities. The water of incredibly clear here and from a closer range, on can also see the flora and fauna under the water.
After spending some time, we came up again and moved forward looking for the third lake. It was more or less similar but I felt that the previous one had a prettier tinge. We saw a peacock and some other birds in the vicinity too. But more importantly, we started hearing a lot of human noise. There was another troop, probably drinking themselves to oblivion.
Google Map showed at least 5 lakes but we had run out of drinking water by then. So, we decided to come back and check the first lake. This one is completely dominated by monkeys. They did strike some pretty poses on the edge of the cliff but eventually, too many of them gathered for comfort as I threw a couple of biscuits. They were also beginning to eye the jackets and bags so we decided to call it a day.
It was a quick morning trip and we were done within a couple of hours. I think anyone else planning to visit them should do it soon. Because while I have mentioned the pristine nature of the lakes before, I must admit that it is not as desolated as I’d have liked them to be. The banks of the lakes are gradually beginning to pile up plastic bottles and other usual suspects. It is still much cleaner compared to more popular destinations inside the city but it is only a matter of time.
26 thoughts on “Asola Bhatti Lakes: Nameless Delights of the Lawless Backyard”
So the lakes are actually mine pits which got exhausted after taking out badarpur (the type of granulated sand used for construction)…. The better way to see and experience Asola Bhatti is to go one of the programs/walks organized by ngo managing the sanctuary (Bombay natural history society).. They regularly do the garbage cleaning of the area.. And yes now there are crowds here, but not so much when I visited it first in 2004.
The lake vicinity looks so serene and water pristine given the ruggedness of the landscape around it! Beautiful capture 🙂
I was wondering about the formation of those lakes, and when you told about mining I realized yes, that’s it! They seem big holes filled with water, only man can carve the ground that way. And I guess there will be submerged road, once used to reach the bottom of the pit! I would be curious to know if I’m right 😀
Is it possible to swim or fish in the lakes? Or are they polluted from mining? It’s heart-warming to hear that there’s an NGO managing the sanctuary and hauling out trash.
I definitely wasn’t expecting to see monkeys just hangin’ at the edge of the lake! Really cool!
You plan to fish? I was thinking about the same thing. in the pictures i saw some catfish but i am sure carps and tilapia may be here as well. i am looking for a bud to go there with.. let me know if you’re interested to explore. i have two fishing setups one 6lb and the other 20lb to pull out bigger ones.
I hate hearing such beautiful places being trashed with debris and plastic. Seriously breaks my heart. Otherwise, looks like a fun little morning trip, probably really pretty to catch the sunrise at!
The criminals in the area make this sound a bit creepy, but also adventurous.
I always like to hang out at places with a lot of monkeys that come close (as long as they don’t bite or steal, hehe).
Happy to hear that this place is kept clean!
Wow, I never would have guess that this was around Delhi! Not what I imagine when I think of it. It is very interesting how they were formed, and I would really like to see them before they become littered with too much trash. This is an awesome morning trip!
What beautiful lakes! The monkeys are a little frightening though…I wasn’t sure where the story was going to go when you said the group was getting larger. Glad it all turned out well 🙂
It’s really nice to hear that there are NGOs looking after the area. It looks so amazingly beautiful through your photos. Your site is constantly showing me cool points of interest that I don’t think I ever would have heard about! Always really interesting reading. ☺
It is always sad when nature are not taken care of. There is just nothing like going out and encounter untouched wilderness. Just hope that there will be places in the future as well, where it is possible to just go and enjoy the sounds of nature. 🙂
There are so many places in this world that are gradually disappearing or are getting polluted because of human ignorance. Anyway, I would love to spend there a day, just having a picnic and hanging with the monkeys 🙂
You know the first thing I noticed in your pictures were the plastic bottles. I wish people would stop littering. It looks like a gorgeous place, such a short drive from Delhi. Thankfully you didn’t run into any smugglers.
Wow, something like this is actually so close to Delhi! never would have imagined. However, it’s distressing to know that it’s getting filled up with thrash…we need a people’s movement before we lose this spot as well!
Such a peaceful place to visit 🙂 Breathtaking and so serene! I would never guess that this can be an area so close to Delhi!
Growing up in Canada I’m not used to seeing monkeys hanging around anywhere so it is unexpected for me. I was thinking about desolate places that I’ve been for comparison but nowhere I’ve been is similar to these lakes since the lake isn’t surrounded by woods. You mentioned there was a possibility of encountering the wrong sort of people there which makes the lakes seem a bit ominous.
I can’t believe that this beautiful place is near Delhi. I have visited India 3 times and all 3 times I landed in Delhi and I have to say…. it’s not the most appealing city in the world. For me Delhi means dust and grey. So seeing this and knowing that it is just outside Delhi… leaves me speechless.
We were actually amazed to find such clean and beautiful lakes around Delhi. Those lakes surrounded by cliffs makes for some picturesque landscapes. Its sad to learn that even these are getting frequented by public who are polluting the pristine surroundings of these lakes. Hopefully something could be done to restrict and maintain these spots too.
What a dramatic setting! Looks like bollywood is not aware of this place yet. 😛 🙂
The lake looks so serene and peaceful. Glad to hear about the cleanliness of the lake.
Hope it continues and remains the same on long run.
Wow, there must have been a lot of mining activity to create five lakes as big as this. We do have a lot of lakes here in the Eastern parts of Germany which were created as a result of mines being closed down and there are some of the cleanest in the area. Some are even clear enough to go diving. Is it possible to swim in those lakes too?
Technically possible but may not be safe… there are no facilities or caretakers if something goes wrong…
Whoa. I didn’t even know something like this existed. So true we must explore our backyard before venturing out. Great post.
Great article and amazing pictures, Thank you!
look wonderful place to visit there.