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Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge – Dilli hai jiska naam I: Pradip Krishen

We thought of a series on Delhi that does not talk only of the narrow lanes of Shahjahanabad, the Mughalia, aka Mughlai delights and the lip-smacking Chaats of Chandni Chowk or the grand ruins of the seven Delhis and the wide open spaces and broad roads, but a series that also looks at the way Delhi has evolved. We wanted to explore the logic of the city and of the forces that have shaped the idea of the city itself.  It was this idea that made us approach people who have engaged with the city with love and care for decades, and we requested them to write for Kafila. 

This series is titled, Dilli Hai Jiska Naam, and here is the first piece, by PRADIP KRISHEN

Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge:  Pradip Krishen

(All images by Pradip Krishen)

Delhi’s Central Ridge is big — a little more than 850 hectares. That’s 8 and a half square kilometres of semi-wild forest in the heart of a totteringly large metropolis.

The Central Ridge is mostly open thorn forest but it can be quite dense in pockets. An evergreen climber called ‘heens’ (Capparis sepiaria) adds to the impression of density

It’s true the Ridge is degraded and filled with invasive trees from South America, its potholed roads are used as a rubbish dump and there are all sorts of other problems inside, but it’s still remarkable that the Central Ridge exists at all. And that it hasn’t been taken over to make multi-storeyed flats for civil servants. Or worse.

The President’s Bodyguard leases a polo ground inside the Central Ridge and does some damage by scattering rubbish from its Polo clubhouse indiscriminately on the Ridge.

I can’t say I know all of the Central Ridge. But it’s now been nearly 50 years since I first started going in there, and there’s a portion — it could be as much as 90 or 100 hectares or so — that I can claim to know really well because I walk there every day. I’m writing a journal-style book about the C Ridge — only about this parcel I’m most familiar with — and I hope to give you a sense of what it is about the C Ridge that I find not just fascinating but important from the angle of how this city is evolving and growing. Continue reading Restoring Delhi’s Central Ridge – Dilli hai jiska naam I: Pradip Krishen