Parks and recreation
by Vandana Verma
4 October 2012
Anandgram, on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road.
Open daily from 10am-5pm.
Entry is free.
For more information visit the website.
A sanctuary where you least expect to find one.
Every Dilliwala will attest: the Mehrauli-Gurgaon stretch of road isn’t a peaceful one. And any suggestions to head in that direction for a bit of downtime would earn you a well-deserved snort of derision. But a recent recce in this nightmare-zone for commuters yielded a hidden pocket of serenity that’s ideally situated to soothe frazzled nerves.
If you’re a potter, or keen on the Indian tribal arts, chances are you’ve already clocked eyes on it. But if you didn’t know to go in quest, you would most likely miss it, so unobtrusive are the charms of this urban retreat. Anandgram is a verdant eight-acre property, brimming with towering terracotta ponies, sprawling banyan trees, and even an amphitheatre and art gallery for the artists and potters in residence.
Funded by Sanskriti Pratishthan, an organization devoted to preserving India’s cultural heritage, this peaceful patch of green also houses three museums: one with incredible works in terracotta, another devoted to traditional textiles and a third that champions “everyday art”, where artists and artisans reimagine the form of functional household goods.
Not particularly keen on the tribal arts? Quick confession: me neither. But with eight acres at your disposal, there’s more than enough room for both cultural appreciation and vegetating in the grass. The well-tended grounds at Anandgram are ripe with colour and texture, with flowers, trees and creepers of every shape and size as well as unexpected architectural elements like little bridges and gazebos that appear out of the blue. Stop by the occasional lotus-filled ponds that pepper this property, just one of the little elements that make it a top spot to take a sneaky sandwich for a quiet lunch among clusters of trees.
Or even, let’s be honest, just to pose for a sneaky Instagram photograph next to those giant terracotta beasts.