Would you believe me if I told you that in the concrete body of Mumbai, where every day is becoming tough to breathe, we have large green spaces where we can escape to? Here’s a lowdown on the green pieces of heaven left in our city.
Maharashtra Nature Park
Maharashtra Nature Park, also known as Mahim Nature Park located at Bandra Sion Link Road was developed by MMRDA with the help of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). But, it wasn’t this green always. Till the early 70’s, this land was a dumping ground; acres of land filled with garbage and waste material until it was turned into this green heaven.
The moment you step in the park, you enter a world that is hard to believe. A wild wilderness in the middle of buzzing Mumbai; the park trees and plants of all kinds surround you and you can feel the freshness in the air that you are breathing. The park boasts of over 18,000 different species of trees and plants. This transformation attracts a variety of migratory birds, butterflies, insects and reptiles. Bird lovers, nature lovers of all ages adore the place and are frequent visitors here. In fact, on many occasions, the place also serves as the ideal venue for community activities, educational events and has played host to farmers’ markets too.
How To Reach:
Address: Maharashtra / Mahim Nature Park, Next to Dharavi Bus Depot, Dharavi,
Dharavi, Bandra Sion Link Road, Mumbai – 400017.
Weekdays – 8.30 a.m – 3.30 p.m
Weekends – 7.30 a.m – 2.30 p.m
Mangroves at Vikhroli
When you are flying in to Mumbai, as your plane approaches the airport, you will notice the lush green mangroves spread across several acres of land. This is the Vikhroli Mangroves, one of the largest private mangrove forests in Maharashtra, owned by Godrej. These Mangroves are an integral part of our ecosystem as they form a natural sponge and flood wall around Mumbai’s coastline. Their root systems ensure water filtration and prevent soil erosion too. According to a study done by scientists from Godrej, Vikhroli Mangroves store six lakh tonnes of carbon.
Did you know that the act of storing Carbon Dioxide as Carbon by the Mangroves helps in controlling global warming.
The mangrove has a rich habitat and is home to many species of fish, butterflies and mammals like mongoose, jackals etc. There have been jackal sightings around the area too. The place is also very popular amongst runners and cyclists for their morning dose of fitness. One of the regular runner and fitness enthusiast Ajay Rao, says,
“I love running at this stretch because of its open space, cleanliness and fresh air, which is rare to get in Mumbai. The route is excellent for a steady, long run practice.”
The area is also frequented by bird watchers trying to spot various species of birds. At times, there are walks organized by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) for the common people to make them aware of this rich habitat.
How To Reach:
By Train: If taking the train, then take the central line and get down at Vikhroli
Station. From here, you can take an auto.
By Road: It’s on the Eastern Express Highway.
Aarey Milk Colony
Every Mumbai kid born in the 80s will fondly remember Aarey Milk Colony. Each onw will have a beautiful memory to tell you about Aarey, like a school picnic, an industrial visit to Modern Bread factory or family outing. For every Mumbaikar, Aarey Milk Colony holds that special place. Spread across 3000 acres of land, this green cover of Mumbai has a rich diversity of different kinds of trees, wildflowers, butterflies, mammals like spotted deer, monkeys, leopards, sambhar deer, barking deer, rusty spotted cat, jungle cat and civets. It is a wonder that such a rich land exists right in the middle of our busy city.
Aarey is a vital biodiversity hotspot in our city; playing a big role in regulating pollution in the area and provides the city with much-needed fresh air. It is also home to Warli Tribals, that have been residing here for many generations. It is a favourite spot for fitness enthusiasts like runners, cyclists and nature lovers. The scenic surroundings and the cool air serve as a great escape from the otherwise noisy and concrete surroundings of the city. But, what is disheartening is to see the planning of various projects like the Metro Yard, the cremation ground, newer roads etc. coming up in Aarey. These developments are surely going to ruin this biodiversity. In the name of development, we have seen many projects mushrooming all across Aarey. In order to protect Aarey and to make people see the importance of this land, green activists and eco-conscious citizens have joined hands and come up with ‘Save Aarey Community.’ The community runs constant campaigns and activities to indulge city folk and to show them the richness of a land in their own backyard.
“The city is bursting at it seems, a reminder to every urban dweller that our expectancy of a better transit is also our ‘right,’ but not by unethically grabbing Non Development Zones; which are eco sensitive in nature where biodiverse life of flora and fauna flourishes.” Abhay Azad
He went on to explain the importance of the indigenous people of the land. We are not acknowledging the fact that the Warli Tribals are also an integral part of this biodiversity, they co-exist in the most unique Urban Forest in the world today. The authorities are forgetting that these green lungs regulate the clean air and lower the temperature. We as citizens meanwhile need to realise that if we continue to disrespect it by unsustainable development, then we have really not envisioned our development path correctly, and the irreversible loss can never be replaced by planting any number of trees because we are not looking at something called “Ecosystem of Life” that emerges out of this very Green patch.
If you want to volunteer or be part of Save Aarey community, you can check out all the details here www.saveaarey.com.
How To Reach:
By Train: If taking the train, then you can get down at Goregaon Station or Powai Station and take an auto to Aarey.