When I was in college, I often travelled to Bandra by bus to meet a friend. One evening, as I was returning home, a lady sitting next to me pointed to a vast stretch of green on one side of the road and said, "This is the Mahim Nature Park. Have you heard of it?"
I shook my head indicating a 'no'.
"It's a pity that people in Bombay are unaware of the green spaces that exist...They just complain about the pollution and the cramped spaces but they do not take the effort of finding and visiting parks and gardens that are around," she grumbled.
I did not tell her anything but I decided to pay a visit to this place whenever I get time. Since we were relatively free from work this week, Sanika and I decided to explore this nature park. It is now known as the Maharashtra Nature Park. The location is particularly fascinating - it is situated right in between the over-populated, crowded slums of Dharavi and the highly industrialized area, that is Bandra-Kurla Complex.
Reaching the park is not a hassle - you can take any bus that goes to Dharavi Depot; or you could commute there from Sion Station. As soon as I reached the place, the words spoken by the woman on the bus echoed in my mind - apart from the two of us, there was only one other person present. The Nature Park is not very big - one can see the Mahim Creek alongside it. There were lots of butterflies and many flowers in bloom. It was fun chasing butterflies and trying to capture them on camera! I really felt like the child in me had awakened!
There were bushes that had wild berries. We discovered an oil tree and a peepal tree.We even spotted a reptile which, according to Sanika, was a chameleon. We did not spot a lot of birds but towards the end of our trip, as we were walking out of the gates, we found a few storks.
Later I came to know that in order to spot a lot of migratory birds, one ought to visit the place between October and March. The park also has an open-air amphitheater, an audio-visual hall, a library - all these are powered by solar energy. There were also four friendly dogs who continued to follow us wherever we went.
The Maharashtra Nature Park is only open till 3:30 p.m. I wish it would remain open for longer hours. It is a place which I would recommend to all nature-lovers and people who are fond of photography. Just be sure to rub a lot of Odomos to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes!
This week I enjoyed visiting some new sites in Mumbai - it was a lot of fun and it rekindled my love for exploration and travelling. I hope to continue this journey of discovering new destinations all around me - what's the point of touring the world if you are clueless about the beauty that is already around you?