Remember our post and debate on the Indraprastha Park? Well, we decided to actually visit the park, and, you know, see for ourselves whether our fancy theories and top-down discussions hold any merit.
We went around 4 in the afternoon, and it was blazing hot, but there was no dearth of people. Mostly young (and middle aged, and young and middle aged) couples under bushes and behind trees, but also some uncle-types and school boys all hanging out together.
The reason why we don’t see any cars, cycles, etc. parked out front is because the park has a very nice and convenient parking lot, which was pretty much full when we visited.
It also has a designated canteen area, with lots of stalls and seating.
The Park is surprisingly peaceful, even with the Ring Road right next door.
The park is surprisingly peaceful, being next to both the Ring Road and the railway line. And the west edge is absolutely brilliant, simply falling down to the railway line some 3-4 metres below.
The railway line, from the western edge of the Park.
We also finally went to the white marble Shanti Stupa, the one which you can see gleaming in the sun from the Ring Road. It was actually being cleaned, necessary to maintain its shine, I guess. (The park also had plenty of malis and security guards, so maintenance is definitely not an issue.) And well, it’s a real stupa, and not a fake one, like I stupidly thought it would be because it’s not ancient.
The modern Stupa, complete with a universal access ramp.
It’s definitely authentic, complete with other Buddhist signage and inscriptions out back. And we were very, very lucky to see a young Budhist monk, in ceremonial orange and yellow robes, pay his respects to the stupa and the other monks living behind it. It was surreal, almost unbelievable that we were still in Delhi.
Prefabricated (?) houses for the Buddhist monks, behind the Stupa
The amazing stone work and textures in the Japanese-style "zen garden", sadly inaccessible.
So, were we completely wrong? Is the IP Park a sensible and perfect-as-it-is land use decision?
The Park is very nice, and so what if it doesn’t have a specific function? It seems to function quite well as a public park. This challenges most of what we’ve learnt in our Theory of Settlements class, and otherwise. Is it again a case of “technocrats” theorizing without understanding the ground conditions? But what we’ve learnt does make sense: of course good public spaces need to be easily accessible and have relevant functions. Perhaps Indrapratha Park is an exception, but I have a feeling we’re missing something here. Maybe it’s more accessible than we think, and it has another entrance, or maybe there are some offices nearby because of which we saw so many office people. Either way, there’s no questioning the publicness of the Park.
So, we eat humble pie (and our words).