Over the last month or so, Mumbai has seen a steady decline in its air quality, due in part to the boom in construction activity. With the festive season, and the spike in pollution that accompanies it, right around the corner, there’s an urgent need for open spaces where we can catch a breath of fresh air. We spoke to Anca Florescu Abraham of Love Your Parks Mumbai — a volunteer-driven organisation advocating for well-maintained public open spaces — who picked seven public parks that warrant a visit — from north to south in order.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali
The national park is a biodiversity hub, flood buffer and carbon sink for the city. Although this is a forest — home to leopards, deer, many varieties of birds, and so on — it has pathways and roads that are cycle-friendly. The national park, which is also home to 2000-year-old Buddhist caves, forms around 20% of Mumbai’s geographical area. It has a few nature trails to trek through, and wildlife safaris too.
Pushpa Narsee Park, Juhu
Located in the heart of the Juhu–Vile Parle Development (JVPD) Scheme, this is one of the few urban parks in the city that has separate pathways for cyclists and pedestrians. The five-decade-old park comes alive on Sundays, as people enjoy picnics on the lawn, strum ukuleles, and seek shelter from the harsh sun under a canopy of trees. Earlier this year, the BMC proposed that an underground parking lot be built below the park to meet the need for more parking spaces in the city — a decision strongly opposed by the residents of the area, who say that it acts as a catchment sponge in the flood-prone area.
Kaifi Azmi Park, Juhu
Once a dumping yard, the Kaifi Azmi Park has now transformed into a green space teeming with trees and flowering, aromatic and medicinal plants — thanks to the efforts of local residents. It also has mangroves on its periphery, a jogging track and an outdoor amphitheatre.
Joggers Park, Bandra
As the name suggests, this park on Carter Road boasts a well-maintained jogging track that’s frequented by fitness enthusiasts. Given its proximity to the sea, you can hear the relaxing sound of the waves in the background as you exercise, or unwind on a bench with a book. However, with the construction of the Versova–Bandra Sea Link ongoing, we’re not sure how long the air here will remain clean.
Priyadarshini Park, Malabar Hill
The iconic PDP on Napean Sea Road is more than 30 years old. It spans 20 acres and is a landmark park that offers recreational space, a sports and fitness complex, walking paths, an Olympic track, a children’s playground and even a man-made beach. Pets are allowed in the park between 8am and 9am.
Hanging Gardens or Sir Pherozeshah Mehta Park, Malabar Hill
Reportedly built in the 1880s, these well-known gardens have long been a highlight of South Mumbai’s landscape. Here, you’ll find various indigenous tree species and animal-shaped hedges. Recently, the gardens have been in the news as they’re slated to be temporarily shut to reconstruct an old water reservoir underneath. We’re hoping for an alternate solution, as relocating and cutting down trees for this could have a serious impact.
Oval Maidan, Churchgate
The Oval Maidan is at the centre of an ensemble of Victorian Neo-Gothic and Art Deco buildings. It has a walking track lined with palm trees, and it’s common to spot people playing cricket or football here. Unlike some other parks, people are allowed to eat food on the grounds and lie down on the grass here.
SB Somani Garden, Cuffe Parade
This public park, also called Dharya Garden, is located right next to the sea. It has an outdoor gym, a designated area for pets and lush lawns for picnicking and soaking in the sunset. It has a walking track, a yoga pavilion and an amphitheatre where live performances have been held.
Anca Florescu Abraham is a Partner at Abraham John Architects. She co-founded Love Your Parks Mumbai (@lypmumbai) to form a community of park lovers and start a public dialogue advocating for Mumbai’s public open spaces. She is on Instagram at @ancaflorescuabraham.
Yashvi Shah is a writer at Paper Planes. She is on Instagram at @yadhvishah.