Mumbai for kids: Head to a green escape at BMC's forest-themed park at Malad

Updated: Dec 14, 2017, 11:33 IST | Vinitha Ramchandani

With the temperature dipping in the city, it's a wonderful time to explore the outdoors. And, as soon as we felt the nip, the first thing we did was to head to Mumbai's forest-themed park in Malad West

Vinitha RamchandaniWith the temperature dipping in the city, it's a wonderful time to explore the outdoors. And, as soon as we felt the nip, the first thing we did was to head to Mumbai's forest-themed park in Malad West. The park boasts of 3,000 varieties of trees, a butterfly garden, a lotus pond and a jogging park that covers a circumference of 6.5 acres. So, one weekend morning we gathered friends and their kids and took off.

One would think that Malad is too far away for Bandra's denizens to merely check out a park in. But, we are starved of opens spaces and if we can travel to shop, then walking in a forested open space within Mumbai certainly seemed worth it to hail a cab and reach this verdant patch of green. Our destination is located on the banks of the Malad Creek. This area, we are told, was originally a garbage dumping ground, which was converted into acres of green. We have carried our badminton rackets, packed in a picnic breakfast and the dense green view from the outside already has us all perked up.

But our entry isn't smooth. At the gates, we are told by the security that food, cameras or play equipment will not be allowed inside the garden. In this age of selfies and camera phones, it is hard to understand the camera bit. The kids are crestfallen over the confiscation of badminton rackets. There is a tiny argument over entry fee too, but when we remind them (security) that the BMC no longer charges for entering public parks, we are let in without any fee. We spotted an old signboard however, that displayed rates ('5 for adults, '3 for senior citizens, free for kids)

Before we step into the garden, we spot a widened indented space with globular structures of varied size. It is an installation of a solar system with nine planets made of stone placed firmly on the ground. The park has been clearly divided for senior citizens, active adults and for children. The jogging track is long and winds in and around the park. There are stairs you can take which make the park seem as if there are levels to it — the upper park and the lower park. We spot multiple varieties of butterflies and dragonflies around us; there are also a large number and variety of palm trees. There are plenty of places to sit and more than one playing area with safe equipment
for children.

With a name like Forest Theme Park, perhaps we were expecting something along the lines of Mahim Nature Park. It is pretty. It is big. It is green and well-manicured. There must be a large number of trees here, but I wouldn't bet that there are 3,000 varieties, as promoted.

Safety tip: It is a sprawling space. Kids need to be accompanied by parents.

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Fact file
Where: BMC Forest Themed Park, Mindspace, behind InOrbit Mall, Malad West.
Best for: Girls and boys aged three years and above.
How to reach: We took a cab. If you want to save time, board a train on the Western line, and alight at Malad West station. Mindspace is a landmark.

Timings: 6 am to 11 am, 4 pm to 8 pm, all week
Budget: Entry is free.
Food and watter: Please carry. No options inside.Restroom facilities: Yes.
Where else to go: InOrbit mall offers indoor entertainment options like movies and play areas.

Parent Poll: The name is misleading. Despite an open space, kids are not allowed to play with their own equipment.
Rating: ***
Kids' Poll: Loved the space because they had the company of friends.
Rating: ***

What's Good: Huge expanse; trees are well cared for.
What's Not So Good: Too many levels and stairs will be inconvenient for senior citizens or for babies in prams. Ban on outside play equipment like bicycles is a downer.

A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli

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