Mumbai Greens: The Hilltop Garden of Bhandarwada
You might draw a blank stare if you ask a local how to get to Joseph Baptista Gardens. But ask about Mazgaon Garden, you will quickly be directed to an uphill path. Dotted with flowerbeds, the 135-year-old garden spans 1.5 acres atop Bhandarwada Hill, the highest point in Mazgaon, a quaint shipyard suburb.
The garden is a 15 minute walk from Dockyard station on the Harbor line. Along this stretch you will find several architectural delights – the Prince Aly Khan Hospital, churches, bungalows and villas.
After the climb, a picturesque view of the harbor awaits. The best time to enjoy the view is at sunrise. The wooden benches have been moved closer together facing east. Offering serenity amidst a bustling cityscape, to reach this beautiful land you must enter through a massive gate and take the uphill path which has been paved inside. The garden is perhaps one of the few sites in the city from which one can have a view of a chaotic station full of people trying to catch their train, a shipyard and a panoramic view of the harbour.
The front door has a view of the whole garden and there are two paths to take you into the garden. Although it may take time and effort to discover the seven wonders of the world, until then, one can visit this garden for their replicas built on just one hectare of land, along the trail. Follow the trail and you will first land at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, heading towards Rio, to the Christ the Redeemer statue, proceed forward and you can sit at the base of the Eiffel Tower. Departing from Paris, the trip will take you to the Pyramid of Chichen Itza in Mexico and then to the USA to stop at the Statue of Liberty. Before visiting the latest wonder – the Colosseum in Rome – you can take a trip to the country of origin to visit the Taj Mahal.
The park also sits on a water reservoir built in 1884, which continues to supply parts of South Mumbai with water. It was named after the then Bombay City Commissioner, John Hay Grant. Later, after Indian independence, the garden was renamed after the freedom fighter, lawyer Joseph Baptista, popularly known as mayor kaka.
The garden is divided into three parts. On the way, a staircase leads to the children’s area. Next to it is a small garden which has gazebos to sit, chat and take in the mesmerizing view. It also has a path for those who wish to continue walking, drawing on a yoga mat or exploring the rest of the garden.
“This garden is centrally located, we come here every night just to enjoy the quiet and to sit and talk with our friends. It is one of the only gardens that is suitable for the elderly and offers a slope for those who come in wheelchairs,” said an elderly person.
The garden is one of the hidden places, undiscovered by persistent tourists or any chaos. This green space is the perfect place for your evening walk, it is a space where you can just go to experience the calm in the middle of the buzzing city.