“In the midst of the bustling city of Mumbai, lies a serene oasis known as the ‘Maharashtra Nature Park’, also referred to as the ‘Mahim Nature Park’ (MNP). This green haven, lovingly developed by MMRDA (a government organization), received assistance from the esteemed NGO ‘World Wildlife Fund’ (WWF), as well as the expertise of renowned Ornithologist and naturalist, Salim Ali. It was proudly inaugurated on April 22, 1994, coinciding with Earth Day. This nature park can be found on the Bandra Sion Link Road, just a short distance from Mahim. It is situated directly across from the Dharavi slums..”
What’s Inside Maharashtra Nature Park
Mahim Nature Park is a stunning woodland that has undergone a remarkable transformation from a garbage dump area into a lush green forest land. With an impressive collection of 14 thousand trees and over 300 varieties of plants, including some unique herbs, it is a true haven of biodiversity. The park also boasts a charming small lake, which attracts numerous migratory birds, insects, and beautiful butterflies. Additionally, you can spot various reptiles, a few mammals, and even around a lakh fish in its serene surroundings.
Do not be mistaken by the name ‘Maharashtra Nature Park’ or, as indicated on the entrance gates, ‘Maharashtra Nisarg Udyan, as they are synonymous. Prior to 1977, this 40-acre plot of land in Dharavi, now known as ‘Mahim Nature Park,’ was simply a polluted dumping ground.
Let’s See a Video First
In the early 1980s, the idea of transforming a waste dump yard into a lush forest was conceived by MMRDA, WWF, and a renowned naturalist. With the vision of Salim Ali, three active members of the World Wildlife Fund, this dream became a reality. The transformation of this land into a stunning nature park began in 1994.
The remarkable success of this project became a shining example of what can be achieved through vision and determination. The locals were amazed by the incredible results and the park’s transformation, especially considering its location amidst the Dharavi slums. From day one, visitors could feel the stark contrast in temperature and freshness between the slums and the park, despite being in the same vicinity.
Groups of spectators, nature enthusiasts, and bird watchers are drawn to this location in Mumbai due to its ability to attract migratory birds, various insects, and an abundance of butterflies. Additionally, it serves as a popular destination for school children. This particular place in Mumbai offers a distinctive experience as it takes approximately 2 to 3 hours to explore and observe every plant, bird, insect, and reptile within its lush green woodland.
Additionally, there is another stunning botanical garden known as ‘Sagar Upvan’ situated in Colaba, also referred to as BPT Garden.
Types of Birds Inside This Nature Park
Prepare your binoculars for an incredible sight of numerous exquisite birds, both local and migratory, amidst the lush green woods of Mahim Nature Park. Once you step inside early in the morning, you will immediately sense the refreshing change in climate and experience a slightly lower and cooler temperature on your body.
To fully immerse yourself in this natural wonder, it is highly recommended to arrive at the park early, as it opens at 8:30 a.m. Mornings are the perfect time to connect with nature and encounter a greater variety of birds and butterflies. The symphony of bird songs, buzzing insects, and the invigorating morning air create an idyllic atmosphere where the sun’s heat is still gentle, allowing nature to showcase its finest.
For avid bird-watchers, consider joining the optional ranger-led tour, which offers a guided exploration of the park’s diverse flora and fauna at a nominal fee.
Inside the park during the morning hours, you may spot migratory birds such as the Laughing Dove, Black Kite, Greater Coucal, Shikara, Great Egret, Eurasian Wryneck, Purple Sunbird, Little Green Bee Eater, Blue-throated, and Barn Swallow.
Varieties of Plants and Trees inside MNP
MNP is a haven for plant enthusiasts, boasting an impressive collection of approximately 300 plant varieties, including some rare herbs with unique benefits. The knowledgeable ranger guide will assist you in identifying these plants, as well as pointing out a few magnificent trees indicated on the map.
The Maharashtra Nature Park officials have successfully cultivated a diverse range of plants in their natural habitat. The park’s abundant flora and fauna attract a multitude of beautiful creatures, particularly butterflies, which can be observed in groups. This captivating sight is not to be missed, even though we are still within the bustling city of Mumbai, with the Mithi river visible from within the park.
There are trees named after Zodiac Signs, known as Rashi-wise trees, and it is believed that sitting beneath your zodiac tree can bring positive energy. Additionally, you may come across budding mushrooms near certain trees.
Among the 13,000 plants and trees in Maharashtra Nature Park, some of the identified trees include Teak, Golden Apple trees, Lasora, Bottle brusk oak, flame of the forest, Devil’s tree, kok, Kadamba, and soccer ball. These are just a few examples of the diverse flora naturally thriving within the park.
Once you step inside the park’s gate, you will instantly escape the hustle and bustle, traffic, and pollution. The well-maintained office area of the park will captivate you at first sight, and as you explore further, you will be surrounded by lush greenery, thanks to the carefully nurtured variety of trees.
If you’re anything like me, someone who appreciates nature and enjoys being surrounded by greenery but isn’t necessarily a naturalist, you might find it difficult to identify the various tree species that are often mentioned on popular TV channels like ‘Nat Geo’ and ‘Discovery’. However, I have compiled a list of a few tree names that can be found within the vicinity of Mumbai city, specifically in this park.
To name just a few out of the 14 thousand species, we have the Soccer ball tree, Kadamba, the Red Silk Cotton Tree, The Ashoka, the Devil’s Tree (which sounds quite intimidating, doesn’t it?), the Ballon Pant, the Bottle Brusk Oak, Ficus Benjamin, Lasora, Teak, Golden Apple, the Flame of Forest, and many more.
Greetings to all nature lovers, naturalists, and tree specialists! I kindly request your assistance in adding to this list any tree names that I may have missed.
This Park Do Have Few Reptiles
The Mahim Nature Park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including various species of water birds and reptiles. Among the reptiles, you might spot the Russell’s viper, Rat snake, and dangerous cobra, which have been heard of in the past. Additionally, the green vine snake can often be seen in the corners of the lake, which is not surprising considering the presence of frogs and insects such as chameleons, Northern house geckos, and Garden Lizards.
In terms of water birds, the park offers sightings of magnificent species like the Greater Spotted Eagle, Ring-necked Parakeets, Asian Pied Starlings, Yellow-crowned Mahratta Woodpeckers, and Barn Owls.
MNP’s Mammals and Butterflies
Experience the beauty of 35 to 42 distinct butterfly species gracefully fluttering together in groups, a sight rarely witnessed in the vicinity of Mumbai City, with the exception of a select few butterfly gardens. These gardens, although limited in number, offer a wonderful opportunity to observe enchanting butterflies such as the Commander, Black Rajah, Blue Tiger, Blue Oak Leaf, Lime Butterfly, White Orange Tip, Common Rose, Psyche, The Pioneer, and Baronet, among others, that can be found at MNP.
Everyone is drawn to nature’s allure, and mammals are no exception in this park. The park is home to a variety of mammals, including fruit bats, mongooses (known for their snake-fighting skills), and agile striped squirrels that can run with remarkable speed. These fascinating creatures can be spotted near the lake area of the park.
A Marker / Memorial stone for Late Lieutenant Nawang Kapadi
When we first visited the park, little did we know about the hidden gem within – the Memorial Marker Stone. It commemorates the courageous Lieutenant Nawang Kapadi, an Indian Soldier and nature enthusiast, who made the ultimate sacrifice on November 11, 2000, during a battle in Jammu and Kashmir. Engraved on the stone are the powerful words, “The World is a fine place and worth fighting for.”
As you immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, I urge you to pause and express gratitude to Lieutenant Nawang Kapadi and all those who exemplify bravery and courage. It is because of individuals like them that we, as citizens, can freely explore such breathtaking locations. My thoughts and sympathies are with the Kapadia Family. Jai Hind.
You can find all the information regarding the soldier at Nawang.com
The Revamp Plan
Around 2015, the news of the revamp plans for Mahim Nature Park made headlines. The main objective of the park, which is to connect children with nature and provide numerous benefits to the ecosystem, birds, and the overall appeal of Mumbai city, is expected to be greatly enhanced once the revamp is completed.
Experts from various fields such as ecosystems, oceanography, fisheries, and botany have been consulted and are currently involved in developing the new revamp plan. If successfully executed, the revamped park will feature new sections dedicated to fruits, trees, and palms, an education center and nursery, a separate wooden area, and a section specifically for medicinal plants. Additionally, there will be a bird observation point at another location, further adding to the park’s allure.
With such expertise already at work, I am confident that the revamp will not only enhance the beauty and value of this existing green haven within the city but also contribute to the well-being of the diverse range of creatures that call it home.
The establishment of a ‘Mangrove Research and Training Center is currently underway, following a comprehensive renovation. Numerous saplings have already been planted by Nature and Wildlife NGOs as well as enthusiastic school students. The upcoming center will be equipped with essential amenities, including a vast collection of books on coastal and marine life, a designated area for studying and training in Mangrove nursery, and expert assistance within the premises of this nature park.
Facilities inside This Nature Park
- Location: Maharashtra / Mahim Nature Park, situated next to Dharavi Bus Depot, Dharavi, Bandra Sion Link Road, Mumbai – 400017
- Landmark: Opposite PMGP Colony.
- Parking: Yes, there is ample parking space available at MNP.
- Water: It is advisable to carry an adequate amount of fresh drinking water with you.
- Outside Food Policy: While outside food is allowed, it is recommended to avoid carrying it unless absolutely necessary. If you do bring external food, please ensure you have bags to dispose of any leftovers, wrappers, etc. Let’s keep the park clean and preserve its natural beauty. Kindly carry your waste back and dispose of it in the nearest dustbin, either inside or outside the park.
- Restrooms/Toilets: Restrooms are available for visitors’ convenience.
- Nearest Railway Stations: Sion (Central Railway Route) is within walking distance, while Bandra (Western Route) can be reached by auto or taxi.
Nature Park Charges and Timings
The ideal time to explore this park, whether you’re alone, with family and friends, or as a birdwatcher, is from October to March. MNP operates on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and the entrance fee is Rs. 40 per person (Please note that charges may vary over time, although I strive to keep the information up to date).
If you plan to bring a DSLR camera, an additional fee of Rs. 100 will be charged. If you intend to visit on Sundays or national holidays, it is necessary to obtain prior permission and inform them in advance.
To enhance the educational experience for schoolchildren, it is highly recommended to have a guide accompany you. They can provide valuable insights and deeper knowledge about the park’s flora and fauna. However, even without a guide, the park is still a fantastic place to relax and immerse yourself in nature, offering a rejuvenating experience.
Official Contact Numbers: +91-22-24077641 / +91-22-24079939
See Also : List of all beautiful gardens and parks in city which includes South Mumbai’s Sagar Upvan botanical garden and Priyadarshini Park, Borivali National Park, and Nirvana Park in Mumbai Suburban.
Few Pictures & Video Courtesy : Rohit Kashikar.
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