Green Heaven at Dharavi, amongst the ideal city Mumbai, ‘Mahim Nature Park’, Which is also popularly knownas ‘Maharashtra Nature Park’, developed by MMRDA with an helping hand NGO called ‘World Wildlife Fund’ along with an Ornithologist Naturalist ‘Salim Ali’, This nature park is explicitly located at Bandra Sion link road, exactly on opposite side of Dharavi slums. A marked change in the form of garbage dump to a green forest land, Mahim nature park has beautiful and fantastic woodland with fourteen thousand trees, three hundred varieties of plants with few specialty herbs, a small lake, hundreds of varieties of stunning and attractive migratory birds coming, insects, beautiful butterflies, reptiles and few mammals and about a lakh fishes too.
Till late 1977 this forty-acre land of Dharavi’s now ‘Mahim Nature Park’ was just a disgustingly dirty garbage dumping area when thought by MMRDA, WWF and the Naturalist saw a dream of using the waste dump yard and transforming it to a naturally beautiful and wonderful forest. In around 1980 when three active members of World Wildlife Fund and a known naturalist called Salim Ali’s vision took shape and mould, this beautiful and attractive green land started taking shape and finally in 1994 the work to build this nature park finally started.
A masterwork example of vision and the eye-opening results started making news and locals were really astonished by the results and transformation of this location getting fully converted to a beautiful and good-looking nature park right between Dharavi slums. As of day, one can emphatically feel the difference or temperature and freshness when inside Dharavi slums and inside this park both in the same location.
Attracting and good-looking migratory birds, varieties of insects, beautiful butterflies and groups of spectators, nature lovers, bird watchers, kids from schools, it is one unique and special place in Mumbai which takes about two to three hours completely to check every plant, bird, insects and those reptiles inside this beautiful and attractive green woodland.More, We do have one more beautiful and stunning botanical garden called ‘Sagar Upvan’ located at Colaba, Also called BPT garden.
Get your binoculars ready as hundreds of nice-looking and beautiful birds, both local and migratory as all around the wonderful greenwood once you are inside Mahim nature park. It is prescribed to reach this park early in the morning as it gets opened at 9:30 AM as morning is the time to get close to nature. The chirping sound of birds, insects and the morning freshness inside is when the heat of the sun is less and nature is at its best to look around the park. So, if you are one of those bird watching lovers, go along with the ranger who will guide you to the flora and faunas inside this elegant nature park with nominal charges.
Laughing Dove, Purple Sunbird, Little Green Bee Eater, Bluethroat and Barn swallow birds,etc are some of those ravishing and gorgeous migratory birds that you can see inside during morning and evening times.MNP attracts plant lovers too, with a wide range of about three hundred varieties of plants, few with some rare herbal qualities and benefits, the ranger guide will help you identify all those pretty and glamorous plants and few huge and vast trees as trees are the lungs of nature. Officials of Maharashtra nature park now grow the varieties of lovely plant endemic in nature. All this plant around attracts those little beautiful and stunning creatures loved by most, Yes, theeye-catchingbutterflies are seen in groups and are one of the sights not to be missed in the bushes within the ideal city Mumbai.
Some of the trees identified inside are Teak, Golden Apple trees, Lasorda, Bottle brusk oak, the flame of the forest, Devil’s tree, Kadamba, Soccer ballwhich is just some of the thirteen thousand plants and trees growing naturally inside the wonderful green land of Maharashtra Nature Park.Out from the hustle-bustle, traffic, and pollution, as soon as you enter inside the park’s gate, you will be mesmerized and transfixed with the first glance of this park and everything all around the park suddenly looks green, all because of the varieties of lush green trees properly maintained inside.
If you are like me, not a naturalist or bird lover yet enjoy mother nature and being in green, naturally not knowing varieties of tree names which we see and hear on famous TV channels like ‘National Geographic’ and ‘Discovery’, here I got few tree names which are right inside our Mumbai city in this park.
The lake inside the beautiful and attractive Mahim Nature park attracts species of water birds and reptiles too, major species that can be seen here is Russell’s viper, Rat snake, Perilous cobra as heard sometimes back and the green vine snake along the lake corners is quite natural since there are varieties of frogs and insects like Chameleon, Northern house Gecko, and Garden Lizards too. Waterbirds like Greater spotted eagle, Ring-Necked parakeets, Asian Pied Starling, Yellow-Crowned Mahratta Woodpeckers, and Barn owl are some of which can be seen in the attractive and wonderful nature park.
Enjoy about thirty-five to forty-two different varieties of elegant and mesmerizing butterflies flying in groups, rarely seen anywhere inside or near Mumbai City except few butterfly gardens which are a handful. One can also see species of pretty butterflies. Beautiful and glamorous Nature attracts everyone to it and Mammals are not left-outs of this park. Those fruit bats, Mongooses, and quick running striped squirrels are among some of those stunning mammals found near the lake area of this wonderful park.
It was around 2015, The revamp plans of Mahim Nature Park were in news all over India. Considering the actual motivation and inducement of the park “To bring children near to nature” intact and of course the far more benefits and uses to an ecosystem, birds and a great attraction of Mumbai city, the revamp and renovate as and whenever done will be a great upgrade.
Experts from various fields and streams like ecosystem, Oceanography, Fisheries, and Botany are asked and are working on the new revamp and renovation plan and if executed successfully, new sections for tasty fruits, huge trees and palms, and an Education center and a Nursery, a separate Wooden area and a section for medicinal plants with a bird observation point at different place will be few of the new attractions inside Mahim Nature Park. Sine such expertise is already working, I am sure the revamp and renovation will add to the beauty and value of this existing wonderful and beautiful green heaven of city and work towards more betterment and improvement of the creatures inside are seen.
With this, revamp and renovation, plans of setting up a ‘Mangrove Research & Training Centre’ are in place. Till date Non-Government Organisation and active school students have already shown interest by planting thousands of saplings inside the park, so the soon to be seen centre will have all required facilities like information on coastal and marine life via books, special area dedicated to studying, training and know about Mangrove nursery with experts support to the centre inside this beautiful and wonderful nature park.
I suggest that one must carry along adequate fresh drinking water and recommended not to carry outside food unless it must be needed. If carrying outside food, please keep carrying bags to collect and carry the left out and wrappers, etc. Keep the park neat and clean strictly and to the best suited to nature. A humble request to please carry your left-outs, litters, and wastes back and throw at the nearest dustbin inside or outside thepark.Restroomsand Toilets areavailable inside the park.
The best time for any birdwatcher or nature lover to visit this park is between October and March. MNP is open on weekdays between 8:30 am to 3:30 pm and the entry fees are Rs.20/- per head. Extra charges of Rs.100 per Camera. If you are planning to visit on Sundays or any national holidays you require to take prior permission and inform them first. I recommend and also suggestgetting a guide along for a better understanding and deeper knowledge about the park and the plants and herbs inside, else still it’s a great place to handout in this nature park and especially get some rejuvenation experience along.What a nature park gives us is a place to relax, a place to relieve stress and at the same time to appreciate nature.
At last I would like to conclude that the best tourist spot near me for its unique specialty is “Maharashtra Nature Park”. And I would like to make it more popular to bring limelight to get enough attention.
Author: prakashini Gopi , Mumbai