The famed and the most eagerly awaited – winter chill of the city is finally here! Felt only by the true blue Bombay-wallahs, the chill has an increasing share of detractors who leave no opportunity in dismissing the cold while comparing it to the winters up north. Well, if we could get that kind of winter here then the city would have been a hill station, perched at an altitude of almost 3000 feet above sea level. And since our average temperatures hover above 30 degrees, we city dwellers cherish this brief period when walking around the city, munching on a bhutta or slurping down cups of cutting chai is a treat in itself. Sleeves are rolled down and mufflers are seen and in the nights, I can hear the train hoot its way 1 km away. Winter migrants start to appearand the nip in the air is best enjoyed by ditching the vehicle and walking about. Here are our recommendations of some of the best walks across the city!
Sanjay Gandhi National Park – Main Gate to Kanheri Caves
This 6 km route bifurcates at the river and eventually joins together after the Safari enclosure. The route from here on is dotted by small hamlets on either side at a few intervals. Stories of the leopard abound in the ‘padas’ as these settlements are locally known and the walk culminates at the base of Kanheri caves. Dating back to the First century BCE, this vast complex of 109 caves is worthy of a separate post altogether! A fantastic view of the city awaits you from the top and enroute several birds can be spotted. If you are lucky(and quite) you might encounter a herd of deer wandering across this stretch of the road.
Ideal time:Sunrise. Park shuts down at 1800 and visitors are fined if found loitering around after sunset.
Gorai Jetty – Global Vipassana Pagoda – Gorai Beach
A short ferry ride from the Gorai jetty will take you onto the island of Gorai. From here, one just needs to follow the road to Esselworld. Lined with mangroves on both sides, early mornings are the best to visit. Once at the Pagoda, one may walk around it’s calm environs and grab a snack at the cafeteria before resuming the walk, now heading towards Gorai beach. This route can be rather lonely and solo walks must be restricted for the day. Mango orchards line this road and within another 30 minutes, you will find yourself walking on the small path that leads to the beach. The shore is vast and generally deserted in the mornings. Sunsets are nice too and you may get an auto to the jetty on your way back. Gorai beach is a hit with couples seeking some privacy so don’t be shocked if random folks approach you and say “Rooms? Very nice, AC with TV”
Bandra: SV Road – Mount Mary via Chapel Road
This is an extremely enjoyable walk if you are not a fan of big concrete buildings and flashy glass windows. A quaint neighbourhood of Bandora, this route is lined with old wooden houses and retains the charm of old time Bandra. The rustic appeal of this place attracts regular walkers such as Prerna Lalwani who highly recommends a walk here. Old ladies sit by the porch and smile at you if you wish them good evening. The walls of many houses double up as canvases for graffiti artists and street art aficionados will love walking here. The route ends at Mount Mary Church, from where one can descend onto the other side towards Bandra Fort.
Also recommended: Pali Hill makes for an interesting walk – up and down it’s slope. Carter Roads is a classic favourite
Coast to Coast – Priyadarshini Park to Chowpatty via Kamla Nehru Park
This walk is best reserved for the evenings. It involves two sea views and plenty of walking on the slopes of Malabar hill. Start from the waterfront of Priyadarshini Park and head up, past Hyderabad Estate towards the Kamla Nehru Park. The park offers a beautiful view of the Queen’s Necklace. Head down towards Raj Bhavan (en route, pay a visit to Banganga Tank) and then catch the Bombay skyline emerge as you walk down the slope of Walkeshwar. The Rajabai Tower stands tall in the distance while commercials towers loom large at Nariman Point. The slope eventually merges with the brown sands of Chowpatty. End your walk here with a Pani Puri at Badshah or a nice meal at Crystal. You may also continue walking on the classic – Marine Drive, all the way upto NCPA.
GPO – Afghan Church
Shaheed Bhagat Singh Marg runs almost unhindered from the General Post Office, VT to right upto Colaba Post office. This route passes through the Mint, RBI towers, Horniman Circle Gardens, The Asiatic Library and the Lions Gate before turning right towards Colaba. To your left lies the headquarters of the Maharashtra Police (DG Office) and from here you may continue walking towards Gateway of India and after a short walk exploring this part, continue on P.Ramchandani marg (the road running parallel to Sea) A walk along the waterfront is pleasant and you may turn right at Radio Club to eventually join SBS Marg again to proceed towards the quaint Afghan Church. On the way you will come across Sassoon Dock and the Mumbai Port Trust gardens.
Worthy of mention: The Bandra Skywalk offers an invigorating walk from the business complex of BKC to the bustling Bandra station.
Kala Ghoda to Churchgate Station/Marine Drive via Oval Maidan
A brisk walk in the evening on this route is my personal favourite. It offers a fantastic view of the aesthetically lit Rajabai Towers, Mumbai University Building and the Bombay High Court on one side while on the other the Art Deco building of Eros and the victorian headquarters of the Western Railway stand tall. (walk on the grass)
IC Colony is a charming locality of Borivali and the walk from IC Church via the LIC colony leading upto the Shanti Ashram depot is highly recommended says trekker and blogger Rahul Fernandes.
Versova: Start from the last remaining 7th bungalow (Nazneen Bakery) of Seven Bungalows and continue straight past Costa Coffee. As you cross a playground, turn left into the beautiful Aram Nagar and walk straight, following the street art on the walls. The beach will soon welcome you.
Escape the madness of Lokhandwala Market by crossing the numerous cross lanes and make way to the Mangrove lined Back road. Continue straight past the small jogging park until you reach a building named Windermere. This stretch is ideal for spotting scrub and species of birds and an unverified report of 2010 mentions a jackal sighting in the waste disposal complex of BMC that lies at the end of this road.
Fans of Matunga will swear by the walk from Dadar station to Ruia College via Hindu Colony with its charming 4 storey buildings and old trees lining the road. Foodies can further take the Telang road(behind Ruia) and head towards Matunga station for endless cups of Filter Kaapi and plates of Dosai at Ram Ashraya or continue north towards King’s Circle and end the walk with a visit to Koolar and Co.
Alternatively, the walk from the Agiary in Dadar Parsi Colony passing through Five Gardens and leading upto Koolar and Co. is worth a try. One may watch a Rajinikanth starrer film at the iconic Aurora or seek solitude in the Don Bosco church.
Sewree Christian Cemetery, the seemingly morbid location is ideal for a calm walk. There is an absolute sense of solitude amidst the graves, which belong to some of the oldest residents of the city. No spooks guaranteed.
Waterfront Walks: Marine Drive, Gateway of India, Powai Lake, Carter Road, Band Stand.
Hope you enjoy the winter walks! You too can send in your Mumbai stories and experiences to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for our Readers Write section.
All photos by Abhay Singh