“Green Heaven at Dharavi, amidst the concrete city Mumbai, ‘Mahim Nature Park’, Which is also called ‘Maharashtra Nature Park’ (MNP), Developed by MMRDA (Government Organization) with an helping hand NGO called ‘World Wildlife Fund’ (WWF) along with an Ornithologist Naturalist ‘Salim Ali’ Inaugurated on 22nd april 1994 (Earth Day).
This nature park is located at Bandra Sion link road (Not far from Mahim), exactly on opposite side of Dharavi slums.
A transformation of garbage dump area to a green forest land, Mahim nature park has beautiful woodland with 14 thousand trees, 300 varieties of plants with few speciality herbs, a small lake, 100’s of varieties of migratory birds coming, insects, beautiful butterflies, reptiles and few mammals and about a lakh fishes too..”
Inside Mahim Nature Park
Do not get confused with name ‘Maharashtra Nature Park’ or as written on entry gates ‘Maharashtra Nisarg Udhyan’ as they are all the same. Till late 1977 this 40 acre land of Dharavi which is now ‘Mahim Nature Park’ was just a filthy garbage dumping area.
When a thought by MMRDA, WWF and the Naturalist of seeing a dream of using the waste dump yard and transforming it to a natural beautiful forest gained momentum. In around 1980 when 3 active members of World Wildlife Fund and a known naturalist called Salim Ali’s vision took off, This beautiful green land started taking shape and finally in 1994 the work to build this nature park started.
A classic example of vision and the eye opening results started making news and locals were really astonished with the results and transformation of this location getting converted to a beautiful nature park right between Dharavi slums. As of day one can distinctly feel the difference or temperature and freshness when inside Dharavi slums and otherwise inside this park both in same location.
Attracting migratory birds, varieties of insects, lots of butterflies attracts groups of spectators, nature lovers, bird watchers & kids from schools. It is one unique place in Mumbai which takes about 2 to 3 hours completely to check every plant, bird, insects and those reptiles inside this green woodland.
More, We do have one more beautiful botanical garden called ‘Sagar Upvan’ located at Colaba, Also called BPT garden.
Birds Inside This Nature Park
Get you binoculars ready as many beautiful birds, Both local and migratory (Seasonal visitors) as all around the green wood early morning, once you are inside Mahim nature park. Can you feel the difference in the climate’s freshness and a bit lower & cool temperature on your body.
It is recommended to reach this park early in morning as it gets opened at 8:30 AM, As morning is the time to get close to nature & find more of birds & butterflies. The chirping sound of birds, insects and the morning freshness inside is when the heat of sun is less and the nature is at its best. So if you are one of those bird watching lovers, go along with the ranger (Optional) who will guide you to the flora and faunas inside this nature park with nominal charges.
Laughing Dove, Black kite, Greater Coucal, Shikara, Great Egret, Eurasian Wryneck, Purple Sunbird, Little Green Bee Eater, Blue throat and Barn swallow birds are some of those migratory birds seen inside during morning.
Plants & Trees inside MNP
MNP attracts plant lovers too, with a wide range of about 300 variety of plants, Few with some rare herbal qualities and benefits, The ranger guide will help you identify all those plants and few huge trees as shown in the map.
Official’s of Maharashtra nature park now grow the varieties of plant in nature. All this plants (flora and faunas) attracts those little beautiful creature loved by most, Yes the Butterflies are seen in groups and is one of the sight not to be missed in the dense bush area, Yes, we are still inside concrete city Mumbai adjacent to Mithi river which can be seen from Inside.
There are Rashi Wise trees (Zodiac Sign Named Trees) and it is said, If you seat for sometime below your zodiac tree, You will get positive vibes. One can also find budding mushrooms around few trees.
Of 13000 plants and trees, Some of the trees identified inside are Teak, Golden Apple trees, Lasora, Bottle brusk oak, flame of the forest, Devil’s tree, Kokk, Kadamba, Soccer ball which are just some of the naturally growing inside the green land of Maharashtra Nature Park.
Out from the hustle bustle, traffic and pollution, As soon as you enter the park’s gate, You will be mesmerized with the first glance of well maintained office area of this park and then everything suddenly looks green, all because of the varieties of lush green trees properly maintained inside.
If you are like me, Not a naturalist 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 ‘Nat Geo’ and ‘Discovery’, here i got few tree names which are inside Mumbai city vicinity inside this park.
To name few of those 14 thousand are Soccer ball and Kadamba, Red Silk Cotton Tree, The Ashoka, Devil’s tree (Sounds Scary right ?), Ballon Pant, Bottle Brusk Oak, Ficus Benjamin, Lasora, Teak, Golden Apple, Flame of Forest and many many more. Hello all the nature lovers, naturalist and tree specialist, please help me with your comments to list many more which i missed.
The lake inside Mahim Nature park attracts species of water birds and few reptiles too, major species that can be seen here is Russell’s viper, Rat snake, Dangerous cobra as heard sometimes back and the green vine snake along the lake corners are quite natural to be seen since there are varieties of frogs and insects like Chameleon, Northern house Gecko and Garden Lizards too.
Water birds like Greater spotted eagle, Ring Necked parakeets, Asian Pied Starling, Yellow Crowned Mahratta Woodpeckers and Barn owl are some that can be seen inside this nature park.
Mammals and Butterflies inside Park
Enjoy about 35 to 42 different variety of butterflies flying in groups, rarely seen anywhere near Mumbai City except few butterfly gardens which are really handful. One can see species of butterflies like Commander, Black Rajah, Blue Tiger, Blue Oak leaf, Lime Butterfly, White Orange tip, Common Rose, Psyche, The Pioneer, Baronet among those found at MNP.
Nature attracts everyone to it and Mammals are not left out’s of this park. Those fruit bats, Mongooses (Enemy of snakes) and quick running striped squirrels are among some of those mammals found near lake area of this park.
A Marker / Memorial stone
Before visiting the park, many of us didn’t knew about a Memorial Marker Stone inside. A 24 year young brave heart Indian Soldier named “LIEUTENANT NAWANG KAPADIA” who was also a nature lover sacrificed his life in a battle on 11th November 2000 at Jammu & Kashmir. The stone reads, “The World is a fine place and worth fighting for”.
So while visiting the nature when you come across the memorial, Please give a minute to thank him and all others who are perfect example of courage and bravery and because of whom we citizens are freely exploring such locations. My heart goes with the Kapadia Family. Jai Hind.
All the details related to the soldier can be found at Nawang.com
The Revamp Plan
It was around 2015, The revamp plans of Mahim Nature Park were in news. Considering the actual purpose intact of the park “To bring children near to nature”, Also many more benefits to ecosystem, birds and a great attraction of Mumbai city, The revamp as and when done is expected to be a great upgrade.
Experts from various fields like ecosystem, Oceanography, Fisheries and Botany are asked and are working on the new revamp plan. If executed successfully, new sections for fruits, trees and palms, An Education centre and a Nursery, A separate Wooden area and a section for medicinal plants with a bird observation point at another place will be few of the new attractions inside Mahim Nature Park.
Since such expertise are already working, I am sure the revamp will add to the beauty and value of this existing green heaven of city and work towards more betterment of the naturally residing creatures inside are seen.
With this revamp, Plans of setting up a ‘Mangrove Research & Training Centre’ are in place. Till date NGO and active school students have already shown interest by planting thousands of saplings inside, 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 study, training and know about Mangrove nursery with experts support to the centre inside this nature park.
Facilities inside park
- Address : Maharashtra / Mahim Nature Park, Next to Dharavi Bus Depot, Dharavi, Bandra Sion Link Road, Mumbai – 400017
- Land Mark : Opposite PMGP Colony.
- Parking : Yes parking space is available at MNP.
- Water : One must carry along enough of fresh drinking water.
- Outside Food Allowed : Yes, but recommended not to carry unless must needed. If carrying external food, Please keep along bags to carry the left out and wrappers etc. Keep the park clean strictly and to the best suited to nature. Please carry your left outs, litters and wastes back and throw at the nearest dustbin inside or outside park.
- Restroom / Toilets : Available.
- Nearest Railway Stations : Walkable from Sion (Central Railway Route), Auto / Taxi from Bandra (Western Route).
Nature Park Charges and Timings
Best time for anyone alone or with family & friends or birdwatcher to visit this park is between October and March. MNP is open in weekdays between 8:30 am to 3:30 pm and the entry fees is Rs.40/- per head (Charges may change from time to time, Although i try my best to keep it updated).
Extra charges of Rs.100 per DSLR Camera are taken. If you are planning to visit on Sundays or any national holidays you need to take prior permission and inform them first.
For better education of school children, It is recommended to get a guide along for a better understanding and deeper knowledge about flora and faunas inside, Otherwise still it is a great place to hangout in this nature park and actually get some rejuvenating experience.
Official Contact Numbers
Contact : +91-22-24077641 / +91-22-24079939
Few Pictures & Video Courtesy : Rohit Kashikar.