Don’t curl up by the window and watch the world go by on this long, drizzling weekend. Choose to experience the monsoon a little differently. Feel the rain drops on your face as you walk through a secret boulevard in Belapur, spend a moment of solitude watching waves crash at the lesser known end of Gorai Beach or challenge the adventure junkie in you to hike through the heavily-wooded Nagla Forest in Vasai.
“Monsoon is the best time to go discover the exquisiteness of Mumbai’s flora and fauna. Watch out for rare wild flowers and colourful butterflies,” says naturalist and author Sunjoy Monga. So put on your sneakers and go exploring these hidden spots in Mumbai, while soaking in the beauty of nature.
Green Valley Park, Belapur
Nestled between Parsik Hills, in the heart of the industrial area of CBD Belapur, is 50 hectares of wilderness maintained by CIDCO. The monsoon showers completely transform the brown woods to a lush green, making the walk scenic and comforting. “This area is locally known as ‘The Nursery’ because it probably started off as one. During the monsoons there is a gurgling stream that runs through the expanse of the forest,” says Chembur-based photographer Samir Khan, 30.
Where: Green Valley Park, Near ONGC Colony, Sector 9, CBD Belapur
Getting there: Take a rickshaw from CBD Belapur station to Arun Kumar Veadh road in Sector 9. The green expanse which is identified as ‘Nursery’ on GPS, is around a kilometre’s walk from the landmark Neelima’s Dental clinic.
Talawe Lake, Nerul
The wetlands, better known as Nerul or Seawoods Lake among locals, is home to some of the most stunning flamingos and migratory birds. Situated near Seawoods, the lake is a great place to spending a quiet evening watching the rain causing ripples in the water surface and admiring the natural flora and fauna. “I come here frequently to watch the sunset, which is a spectacular. It’s almost therapeutic to just sit and enjoy the cool breeze and watch the orange and red reflection of the setting sun in the water,” says Shantenu Tilwankar, 27, a filmmaker.
Where: Sector 18, Nerul
How to reach: Take an auto-rickshaw from Nerul station through Palm Beach Road and make a U turn when you reach sector 18.Entry to the lake, which is identified on GPS as Seawoods Lake is around 700 metres from there on the left.
Kharghar Valley Trail
The route beside the Kharghar Golf Course leads to a narrow, winding roadway with emerald-green hills on either side. Not only is this a great stretch to walk while getting drenched, but is also a nature lover’s paradise. TR Janardhan, 65, a retired income tax officer says, “It is an absolute delight to get away from the chaos of the city and find yourself in the heart of the hills. There are small rivulets of water gushing down from the hills which look like miniature waterfalls and the view of the city from the high points is breathtaking.”
Where: Sector 22, Opposite Central Park, Shaheed Sukhdev Singh Marg, Kharghar
How to reach: Use the skywalk to reach the Highway from Kharghar station, then take a bus on route 54 or hire an auto-rickshaw to Kharghar Valley Golf Course and take the dirt road beside it.
It’s a long walk from the Gorai Jetty towards the rocky side of the beach, but it sure is an enjoyable one. With greenery on either side, the long winding road leads to tiny hamlets inhabited by the local community. The narrow roads through the village lead to the rocky side of Gorai beach, which has a little hillock giving you an amazing view of the lashing waves. “It’s like my little secret find, because I come to this secluded spot for a nice break from the city. I brought my tent along once during the rains and camped all day, just watching the waves and listening to music,” says Eshna Goenka, 23, who works as an illustrator with an online portal.
Where: Ponda wadi, Gorai Beach
How to reach: Take a ferry to Gorai Jetty and walk towards Global Pagoda Road.Once you reach Gorai Circle Bus stop, take an auto-rickshaw through Uttan Road towards Ponda wadi which leads to the rocky end of Gorai beach.
Nagla Forest, Vasai
Nagla Forest is one of the better kept secrets of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), as not many people know about this secluded trail in Vasai. If you like the adrenaline rush of exploring a dense forest, that has minimal human intrusion, this is the perfect spot for you. “This 1.3 kilometer trail is a little tricky as one has to find their way through using GPS to the end point, which is the Vasai creek. It’s a nature lover’s paradise as there are exotic butterflies, caterpillars, birds and reptile that can be seen up close,” says Asif Khan, associate officer, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS).
Where: Northern end of Vasai creek near Thane-Ghodbunder Road
How to reach: Take an auto-rickshaw from Naigaon station to Fountain Hotel on Mumbai-Ahmedabad Highway. Walk from there through Sasupada up to the entry gate of SGNP.
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus, Powai
We have all heard stories of the picturesque campus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, but only a handful of have made it through the huge boundary walls. Here is an opportunity to visit the lush green expanse of the campus and even run alongside the beautiful Powai Lake, by participating in the ‘Monsoon Run’ being organized by the institution on August 28. Osama Khan, 24, fourth year student pursuing his master’s degree in Chemistry from IIT Bombay says, “By registering for the event anyone can enter the premises and see the preserved natural ecosystem of the area. From Sameer hill which is famous for its scenic viewpoints to extreme end of the Powai Lake, this event, which is being conducted for the first time during monsoon, gives participants an opportunity to see the campus at its best.
Contact: Log on to their facebook page for information about registration