You think you’ve reached the park but after walking briskly over a wide space where there is a smattering of vehicles parked, you will find that you have not entered the park even.
All that space after the main entrance was the car park. Welcome to Central Park, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, believed to be largest park in the country, and the third largest park in the world. For someone living in Mumbai’s Western suburbs, travelling to Navi Mumbai seems way too far. So our trip to Kharghar took us by surprise.
For those who don’t know — and I didn’t — Kharghar is far. Further than Belapur, which is before Panvel, which, too, is very, very far. And, like most homegrown Mumbaikars, we are used to small compact spaces. As we reach Kharghar, the temperature seems to dip and you know why when you are met with looming green hills.
A blend of landscape and urban design, the Central park opens with the Musical Instrument park. Different Indian musical instruments — from the tabla and dagga to the peti, the sarangi, the rudra veena, the ambora, the dhol and the ektara — have been sculpted and placed around this section of the park. It takes a brisk walk to reach each installation and read the inscription under them.
A little ahead, towards the extreme left of the entrance is a large pond of with a fountain at its centre. Close to this are benches where you can sit and gaze at the water. The children’s park is huge.
This is by far the largest playing area for children that I have seen in any of Navi Mumbai’s gardens, equipped with sand pit and all the regular outdoor equipment meant for children’s free play. But what instinctively draws you is the massive amphitheatre. Operational for concerts and other live programmes it’s a lovely open space to sit, even otherwise.
The Park is supposed to have other theme parks such as the: Hasta Mudra Park, Water Park, a nursery, botanical garden and club house. But by the time we were done with the amphitheatre it had turned dark. It’s time to leave. Developed by CIDCO, Central Park covers three sectors of Kharghar and is supposed to be approximately 80 hectares in area.
So, do come to Kharghar’s Central Park with a whole day in mind. Choose a cool day because the place is sprawling and while there are trees there aren’t too many shady spots to take cover under. This is one place that you can do a gentle trek or simply sprawl out and soak in the peace.
Where: Central Park, Sector 20, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai.
Alight at Belapur. Central Park is midway between Belapur and Kharghar. If you’re coming via road, take the straight road towards Kharghar from the Kharghar bus stop on the highway.
When you reach Utsav Chowk, take a right turn, and keep on driving straight for a few minutes. Pass ISKCON temple on the right, and keep on driving till you spot Central Park. Bus route no 54 will also reach you to the spot.
Timings: 6 am to 9 pm, and 5 pm to 8 pm
Food & drink: Eventually a food park will be set up. Carry food and water.
What’s good: The space and greenery
What’s not good: Lack of staff to direct people. The park has maps but a beautiful large green space can be converted into a real tourist spot with information kiosks. Better equipment, constructive themes and labelling of trees would have helped.
>> Wonder Park
>> Koparkhairane lake
>> Mango garden at Belapur
>> Rock garden at Belapur