The majestic, stony doorway is simply an indication of what is to come. When you walk through it, the January breeze isn't the only thing that makes you want to take in a deep breath of happiness.
We are here at the Lake View Park, Hiranandani, Powai, with the Tree Appreciation Walk group, led by Usha Desai and Renee Vyas, who have gathered a motley group featuring young kids and budding botanists. The group splits up and we take a leisurely walk around, looking at trees and touching their trunks. The organisers tell us fascinating stories that help us distinguish one palm from another, along with sharing information on their origins, and other stories.
For a young suburb like Powai, it is surprising to see beautiful old trees nestled in manicured lawns. There are three municipal gardens in Hiranandani Powai and all of them - for some reason - don't have a signboard identifying them. The Lake View Garden also has no board at the gateway. The garden has a collection of assorted palms such as The Aristocratic Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa), California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera), Foxtail Palm (Wodyetia bifurcate), Manila Palm (Adonidia merrillii), the Pony Tail Palm tree and the indigenous Toddy Palm (Borassus flabellifer). And instantly, what until now had been 'some coconut-tree-like-palm' for the kids (and many adults), transforms into one with a distinct name and personality.
Our eyes are drawn to a massive tree that looks like a banyan tree. We learnt that it was the Ficus Benjamina, a common potted plant that was nothing like it looked at home, only because it had the space to grow in height and breadth. There are other trees too: the Muchkund (Pterospermum suberifoilum) and Kanak Champa (Pterospermum acerifolim) that, when viewed from a distance, look alike.
There's a gazebo that is inviting and visitors from all age groups. Many are gathered here to exercise. The walkers, the joggers, gymnastics trainers, and those who come to simply play - the sprawling garden has something for them all.
With the greenery and happy flowers - petunia, marigold, roses - come the butterflies and bees. Sunbirds flutter past and we can hear the Koel so close but it's invisible. The green grass is inviting and we lie down and watch the blue sky, until the playpark beckons.
Where: Opposite Hiranadani Foundation School and Jal Vayu Vihar Housing Society, Hiranandani, Powai.
Best for: Girls and boys aged six months and above
How to reach: Get off at Kanjurmarg station and take an auto. The BEST bus stop is called Jal Vihar Society.
Timings: 5.30 am to 9 am; and 4 pm to 10 pm
Budget: Entry free
Rest Room facilities: Yes
Where else to go: Powai Lake is not too far away. There are three municipal gardens in the vicinity, all lush green and sprawling. For indoor activities, you could head to Hakone, which has fun things to do.
Parent Poll: Loved it. It’s a place where you can’t get bored
Kid's Poll: The prettiest park ever
What's Good: There's enough space to fit in kids of all groups.
What's Not So Good: No place to refill water bottles