A walk in the park

Updated: Aug 24, 2019, 08:38 IST | vinitha ramchandani | Mumbai

It is not that there weren't any parks around. Bandra has three of them within a km of where I live. But nothing of this scale

Pramod Mahajan Kala Park, Outdoors

VinithaWhen I had two kids in quick succession, I remember packing my two-year-old and two-month-old in the pram, and waddling out with dull eyes, blaming the unfairness of motherhood; the kids were too young to be left alone and I never seemed to have enough time to get back into shape. When I walk into Pramod Mahajan Kala Park, and look at the massive space, it hits me: this is what I had been wishing for back then. Loads of green space to walk in.

It is not that there weren't any parks around. Bandra has three of them within a km of where I live. But nothing of this scale. The nearly-14 acre park — placed between Dadar's flower market and Dadar fish market, flanked by BMC's sewage operations and storm water drains department buildings on both sides and railway tracks to its rear — has two ponds. It is apparently home to around one lakh plants and to 180 species.

Pramod Mahajan Kala Park, Outdoors

As I walk around exploring the park, I am amazed at the number of potted plants, the broad pathways, the number of places to sit at and benches that dot the place. I march through the section with five-feet tall Birds of Paradise plants I can hear shrill screeching. Bats the size of cats with one-metre-wide wingspan, swirl and swoop over my head in the excitement of the setting sun. Just for this I would have brought my 12-year-old who loves all things ghoulish.

Trains clack past all the time; in the distant horizon are the high rises of Parel and yet, inside the park, there is colour and peace. I marvel at the fact that there is so much method and thought put into this space. Clearly not made for children to play (a signboard unambiguously prohibits "cricket, football, cycling, kite-flying and other games" and people from walking pets), it is a massive green space sans any play equipment. There are a handful of kids, a few of them toddlers, but more the high-school and college variety.

Pramod Mahajan Kala Park, Outdoors

A large hall towards one end of the park has been designated as a yoga room and there is a class in full swing. There is an elevated circuitous track from where you can examine the entire park with one sweeping glance. The Prism — you can't miss it — is massive and surprises me. It is lined once again with giant pots with themed sets of plants. In between this matrix are wide passages where one can do yoga or sit around in groups. I am chased for taking photos; with all the meditative energy around, the security is clearly alert.

Fact file

Where: Pramod Mahajan Kala Park, Tulsi Pipe Road, Dadar West.
Best for: Boys and girls, six months onwards.
How to reach: Get off at Dadar
station on the west side and walk.
Timings: 6 am to 10.30 am; 4 pm to 8 pm
Budget: Free.
Food: Not allowed inside.
Water: Available.
Rest Room facilities: Available.
Where else to go: If it is parks you are looking for, there is Shivaji Park, and Five Gardens that have more play options for kids. But these are usually more crowded in the evenings. I would take my kids to Dadar flower market for sure. Straight down the line is Lower Parel with all its indoor play space options for a range of ages.

Parent Poll: Ideal for young mommies with toddlers or young adults. I'd take my kids there for long brisk walks and to check out the bats that have made a home in the trees.
Rating: 3/4
Kids' Poll: It's okay. Mom's happy.
Rating: 3/4

What's Good: The length of the walkway is terrific. Plenty to explore. Security is very alert. Glad this is the first BMC garden watered by treated sewage water. Goes to show how recycled water can be maximised.
What's Not So Good: Not very child-friendly. The lily ponds look murky, at best.

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