Lilies, birds and butterflies: Let Navi Mumbai surprise you this weekend
In the rains, many rare species make Kharghar their home. But hurry, these sights will only last the season.mumbai Updated: Jun 17, 2017 08:35 IST
- WHAT: A flower spotting trail organised by iNaturewatch
- WHEN: Sunday, 7.30 am to 9.30 am
- WHERE: Kharghar
- COST: Rs 250 per person
- CALL: 99870-13144
For most Mumbaiites, a house with the view of a waterfall, which is also just five minutes away from a railway station, is the stuff of fairytales.
But fantasy stories come alive in Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, as the rainclouds gather over the skies in the monsoon. The area is greener than the rest of the city and the hills come alive with colourful flora and fauna, and (if you’re lucky) even a rainbow. Pull on your gumboots and make the most of it at these locations:
Kharghar Driveway: A well-kept secret among nature lovers is the unnamed spot, at the end of the Kharghar Driving Range. While locals learn to steer, reverse and parallel-park, others enjoy the open green plateau and hill that becomes home to waterfalls of varying strengths, seasonal birds and butterflies and rare, short-lived lilies.
“Four kinds of lilies can be spotted in small patches on the hills just when it begins to rain and disappears soon after, as the season gains momentum,” says Isaac Kehimkar, director of travel company iNaturewatch, which has organised a special lily walk on the morning of June 18.
White lilies with symmetric pink stripes, called the pink-striped white lily, are the most abundant, followed by an unusual white bloom with spider-leg-like extensions. It’s called the Forest Spider Lily. Then there’s the Yellow Grand Star, which looks like something from outer space that fell to Earth with the raindrops. The plain and simple Phlorophytum lily or Kuli in Marathi is pretty and tasty too. Maharashtrians make a vegetable preparation of it. A blazing fire shaped as a pod makes for the Glory lily, popularly also called the Ganesha lily.
“These flowers can only be seen for a week of the year and hence make for a rare sight,” says Kehmikar.
Kharghar Hills: Nestled between Belapur and Kharghar, the hills are a bounty of green, mini waterfalls, rivulets, lilies, butterflies and birds. Entry is restricted – you need permission from CIDCO, Kharghar’s governing body, to enter, permission covers only a few hours a day and vehicles are strictly not allowed at the bio-diversity-rich area. But it’s worth a trip.
This is where you can spot the Common Mormon, a jet-black butterfly with fringes of white, and the Common Rose a variant with red spots on its wings. The Crimson Rose has an elaborate red pattern on the edges of its wings, while the Great Orange Tip is angel-like white with small triangles of orange on the corners of its upper wings.
Bird spotters will tell you that Magpie Robins, Indian Robins, Red Whiskered Bulbuls and White Throated Kingfishers are regulars here. “If you are lucky you could also spot a Monitor Lizard, one of the largest in the world and now also quite rare,” says Kehmikar. “I visited this place with my friends last year and boy! We had a blast,” says Gungun Chanda, a 38-year-old baker. “It’s as beautiful as say Lonavala, but easily accessible.”
Pandavkada: Deeper inside Kharghar are the Pandavkada Falls, a monsoon picnic destination popular for its 107-metre waterfall. It is said that the Pandavas, the five brothers from Mahabharata, visited here in exile, hence the name. “Entry is now regulated and people are not allowed inside the falls after a series of accidents,” says Meena Prashant a writer and a resident of Navi Mumbai. “But it’s still worth a visit as you could spot multiple rainbows here above a lush-green terrain.”