Before the tombs, the qilas, the bhawans, the DDA flats, what was it like? This zameen, on which our Delhi stands.
Easy to tell you about the land on which Gurugram stands. The Millennium City is a more recent construct. This land of malls/ condos/towers used to be a sprawl of grass/trees/farmland. But not all of that paradise is lost. Such panoramas can still be sighted in parts of Gurugram. All you have to do is to board any Rewari-bound train. An average express bolts through the small Gurugram rail station within seconds but the city being huge, the train leaves its last point after very many minutes. And through the window you see an aspect of Gurugram that is profoundly different from the Gurugram of your daily engagements.
Soon after leaving the station, the train begins a long passage along the outlying fringes of the metropolis, crisscrossing a land yet to be devoured by the real estate (the horizon though is stringed all the way with the high-rises). From your seat you see acres of khet, dense with crops that might have been easily identified by an earlier generation of Gurugramwale, when the city was a gaon, a village. And when most of those Gurugramwale were farmers who would till the land where stand the office complexes and Metro stations of us new Gurugramwale.
This pristine landscape oozes out a dewy freshness in the morning, before being dissolved by the glare of the pre-noon sky. The ideal way to experience the phenomenon is to board the Ajmer-bound Shatabdi Express, which starts from New Delhi railway station at 6.05am. The photo is from one such trip made in the pre-pandemic era.
The evening scenes are also something to remember. For that experience, you may board the tiptop Ajmer-bound Vande Bharat Express launched earlier this year in April. It starts from Delhi Cantt. railway station at 6.40pm.
This morning, the Shatabdi goes past Gurugram just as the sun is beginning to rise. A delicate layer of mist hangs motionless over the fields. Sharp sun rays slam through that haze and hit the ground, igniting the white mist into pale gold.
Meanwhile, the Gurugram high-rises, separated from the rail tracks by lush green expanses, look fantastical. As if they were airdropped by the aliens. As the train rushes ahead, the last high-rise is left behind.