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Pack that picnic basket

You might have been to Rani Bagh or Kanheri Caves on a school trip, but revisiting these places can be refreshing. On No TV Day, rediscover the traditional picnic.

mumbai Updated: Jan 23, 2012 13:37 IST
Farah Bookwala
Farah Bookwala
Hindustan Times

When was the last time you packed a lunch basket, drove down to a park or beach with the family in tow and spent a good day playing Frisbee or simply lazing under the sun? In other words, when did you last go on a picnic?

In the hustle and bustle of life in this city, picnicking has become a luxury. But No TV Day is the perfect opportunity to revive the lost picnic culture. Here are the top five picnic spots in the city: Chhota Kashmir, Goregaon, Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, Byculla, Kanheri Caves, Borivli, Yeoor Hills, Thane, and Hanging Gardens, Malabar Hill.

Nestled in the crook of the expansive parklands of Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon (east), Chhota Kashmir is verdant escape from the city’s noise. “Once a month, I take my children to Chhota Kashmir to spot colourful birds. They really love it there,” said Biju Augustine, 42, a Marol resident. Chhota Kashmir is also a Bollywood destination. You might just catch your favourite actor shooting an action or dance sequence there.

If you want a closer encounter with animals visit the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan in Byculla (east) or as it is popularly called Rani Bagh or Byculla Zoo.

Although the zoo has been criticised for ill-treating animals by housing them in constricted, dirty enclosures, there is still a lot of beauty there. Vineeta Sharma, 35, a chartered accountant from Kandivli, often takes her two children to Rani Bagh for daylong picnics. “Nothing gives children more joy than watching animals and their antics. My daughter enjoys watching the lions and elephants at the zoo,” said Sharma. The zoo houses rare birds such as double-beaked hornbills, pelicans and egrets and animals such as lions, tigers, bears, elephants, leopards, hippos and rhinos. There’s also a crocodile pond with several sinister-looking crocodiles that can be seen basking in the sun or paddling through the murky waters.

Further south, up on Malabar Hill, are the Hanging Gardens. For those who have spent their growing up years in this city, the Gardens would have been the regular spot for all their school picnics. The garden, also called Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, was built in 1881 and is atop the slope of Malabar Hill. It is the finest landscaped and terraced garden in Mumbai and provides a stunning view of the Arabian Sea.

If you are looking for a bit of history, head to Kanheri Caves located in the heart of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivli. The caves, which date back to the first century, served as Buddhist monasteries. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, Kanheri has the largest number of cave excavations (109) in a single basalt hill. Pooja Kadam, 23, a Malad resident spent her last birthday at Kanheri. “My friends had blindfolded me and taken me atop the caves. When the fold was taken off, I was stunned.”

On the other side of SGNP lie Yeoor Hills, also known as the Mama Bhanja Hills. It houses three lakes — Vihar, Tulsi and Powai. The Tulsi lake supplies water to the city. Home to several wild animals and birds, it is really a jungle out there. The forest is home to more than 20 leopards. Gautam Khetwal, who hosts a travel blog writes, “The best time to visit Yeoor is during the monsoon. There are gazebos built at regular intervals for people to rest.”

First Published: Jan 19, 2012 01:10 IST