For over two years now, I've passed by this space every week, and we've (my kids and I) attempted a trip almost a year ago, when the park wasn't thrown open to public. This time, I discover that it's open finally, and we pack a smallish picnic basket and set off for Five Gardens, Dadar-Parsi Colony, early in the morning.
The gates are open and the colourful equipment with their roundabouts, spiralling stairs, ladders, slides, tunnels, playpens and footholds beckon. The kids run, and I lose them quickly in the haze of colour.
The equipment that is available for the kids seem immense; over three dozen kids can play here at the same time without feeling squashed. There is equipment that tests your balancing skills and some that makes you use both sides of your brain, while others test your muscle power and flexibility. The slides are curvy, while a few zip down straight, others dip you down through hollow rods. The tactile experiences are many.
You can climb, crawl, walk and zip down and repeat the same thing through different permutations and combinations. Crash mats ensure that you do not get hurt even if you are not able to control you descent.
A little way off is the seesaw, swing and jungle gym where two kids have decided to use that space to play a game of cricket. If you are heading towards one of Mumbai's few precious open spaces, do come along with outdoor gear.
Depending on the weather, you can fly kite, play cricket, pull in a game of hopscotch or hide-and-seek or football. Like with all parks, there is a jogging/walking track where fitness conscious people are briskly striding and on the benches placed under shady trees, are senior citizens.
There is a smattering of crowd in all of the five gardens: cricket, badminton and football matches dot this green lung in the city. We were here in the morning, it's best to drop by in the evening and it feel like old times with stunted ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, horse ride, horse-cart rides and other rides that you can take. Portable carts are parked with vendors selling everything from roasted peanuts to plastic toys and bubble blowers.
When the kids have tried each slide, and clambered every toehold, we move to a quieter park where we relax while guzzling down chilled water and enjoying a snack. Everyone's happy!
How to get there Closest station is Dadar, Western and Central railway. There are many bus routes to reach Five Gardens
Timings Open all day. Playpen park: 6 am-11 am; 4 pm-8 pm
Charges Free What You Can Eat There are many authentic South Indian restaurants nearby
Water Carry water Rest Room facilities None What's good Open space with a choice of different areas. An entire day can be spent without getting bored. The tranquil space is calming as do the birds, butterflies and squirrels that the place abounds with.
What's Not So Good The park was terribly littered at 8 am when we arrived. Hopefully, the cleaning services will do their job. The equipment is not labelled. All kids of a range of ages cannot play in every zone. More information needs to be displayed to make the equipment appear intelligent.
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