Despite the dock stations with fancy e-bikes that keep coming up at several prominent zones, and the fact that its denizens are often spotted cruising down Raj Path, Delhi is decidedly not the world’s most bicycle-friendly city. It is certainly no Amsterdam or Copenhagen. Bicycle commute is still largely restricted to those with low-income jobs and plans to introduce dedicated cycle lanes have seen shelving after shelving.
Yet, ever since the capital came out of the lockdown, the roads have been buzzing with fresh riders. Instagram has seen a surge in users posting their Strava numbers and the bike market is riding a wave of revival. Hungry for exercise and exploration, city birds have made biking rad again. Which is why we are telling you about some great trails to follow in and around Delhi.
Equipped with a smooth track and entrances from all four sides, this 784-acre city forest near the Qutub Institutional Area is one of the most popular spots. The network of trails here offers a 20-km-long cycling experience right by the side of the Aravallis. You could also get off the bike to spot bird species such as purple sunbirds, crested honey buzzards, and Indian paradise flycatchers.
Dhaula Kuan to 11 Murti
South Delhi does have its share of greenery and forest, including the serene University of Delhi south campus. The stretch is a little downhill, and goes through a patch of thick forest along Vandemataram Marg before emerging again on Sardar Patel Marg, towards 11 Murti Marg that has state Bhawans lined at its other side.
On the periphery of Delhi, this route connects Dwarka with Haryana, and generally doesn’t have much traffic. The best time is early morning, as is the case with most city biking. Take Road No. 4 out of Dwarka, following it out of Sector 19B, and then cross the Najafgarh Drain. Ride for about 3km along the drain, then take the road to Chhawla, cross Jainpur Forest and finally reach Najafgarh Lake.
Dwarka to Sultanpur
This the big daddy of cycling routes in the capital, and a favourite with serious cyclists. On this stretch, you pass little villages, wetlands and farms. Take a detour when you reach the Rajokri Protected Forest and ride past endemic tree varieties on the way.
Aravali Biodiversity Park
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The Aravali Biodiversity Park has a well-defined trail for cycling (including cobblestone-style stretches), in addition to the lush surroundings and a rich birdlife. The terrain is rocky and perfect for off-roading as one reaches deeper within the park. However, if you are someone who loves smooth rides on tarmac roads with nothing else save for the Aravalli outcrops visible in the distance, try the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road. The gradient on this American Midwest-like route is gentle, allowing for steady gains in speed downhill and uninterrupted views of the rocky hills.
Starting at the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road, the 15km stretch is pretty straightforward after you reach Mohan Cooperative Industrial Estate and continue on NH119. The ride promises ascents and descents aplenty and opportunities to off-road as well. You can also take a detour to the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary via the Tughlaqabad-Surajkund Road.
The 33-sq km sanctuary offers great off-roading opportunities in addition to the wide variety of avian life—bulbuls, barbets, peafowl, prinias and even pallid harriers—that you will spot here. Another alternative is to bike from Tughlaqabad Fort to Faridabad and then past forested areas south of Asola to Gurgaon.