The world's 4th most populous city, Mumbai has its fair share of gems stowed away amidst the 12 million dreams its residents harbour. This cocktailian mix of beaches, hills, signatory architecture and the post-sunset lifestyle can often be overwhelming; and amidst this strictly timed lifestyle, I chanced upon a breath of fresh air. Dharavi, popular post its slumdog status as Asia's biggest slum dwelling also holds what can today be referred to as the city's snorkel. The Mahim Nature Park, colloquially referred to as the Green Lung of Mumbai serves as a temporary safe haven for scores of fauna, along with a whopping 18,000 strong green brigade of trees cycling the tons of exhaust it is faced with every day.
Once a bustling garbage dump, things finally took a turn for the better in 1983, when Dr. Salim Ali began plantations over and across the flailing mountains of reject poured here back then on a daily basis. Today, under a verdant cover of vegetation, the park seems serene and perceive-ably cooler than the streets outside. A place has now been earmarked for bird watchers near the creek, which offers a glimpse into the rich avian biodiversity of the park. One can also take a leisurely stroll on “Shanti Path,” a canopied walkway that winds its way through the entire length of the park. Mahim Nature Park is home to 14,000 species of vegetation such as Golden Apple Trees, Red Silk Cotton Tree, over 120 varieties of birds like Greater Spotted Eagle, Ring Necked Parakeets, and more than 75 kinds of butterflies like Commander, Blue Tiger and 30 species of spiders and a large reptile population, ranging from the infamous Russell’s Vipers to the considerably harmless Rat Snake.
Popular with nature enthusiasts and amateur photographers, the park also hosts nature trails and farmers’ markets on Sundays.
Address: Maharashtra/Mahim Nature Park, Next to Dharavi Bus Depot, Dharavi, Bandra-Sion Link Road, Mumbai-400017
Getting there: It is walking distance from Sion (Central Railway Station). Dharavi Bus Depot is the landmark. From the Western line, alight at Bandra (East) station, take the Eastern Skywalk till its last exit, at Kala Nagar Junction. From here, hail an auto to reach the park.
Landmark: Opposite PMGP Colony
Timings: Weekdays, 9.30 am — 6 pm. To enter on weekends or public holidays prior permission is needed.
Entry Charges: Rs.10 per person
MNP also organizes guided walks for Rs. 800 for a large group
Official Contact Details: 022-24077641, 022-24079939