Mumbai is the Big Apple of India. There is plenty of buzz around and an adult can spend days together trying to unravel this exciting place, but even for the children there is plenty to do. Distances in Mumbai can be frustrating; a seemingly nearby place, just a few kilometres away, can take half a day in transit given the crazy traffic. The mass transit system of BEST buses and local railway trains is ever-crowded.
So when in Mumbai,
it is best not to be ambitious and cram too much in one day. Plan your
itinerary in such a way that you have ample time to and fro and make
most of the place you are visiting with your children. Here's a week's
plan for your children in Mumbai.
Monday: When the local public is heading for work, you can
head to the Esselworld amusement park on the Gorai beach which would be
relatively free of holiday-revellers. Take a ferry from Gorai jetty -
which is reached from Borivili railway station by a rickshaw, or Marve
creek reachable from Malad railway station. Esselworld is our own
Disneyland with exciting roller-coaster rides and adventure theme
parks. Splash and dunk in the water at the Water Kingdom.
Tuesday: Nehru Planetarium at Worli is quite an
institution in the city, especially for the astronomy lovers. It is a
good place to initiate your children to the joys of the solar systems, the stars and the moon, if they are less than five years. The sky
theatre holds shows to acquaint the children with the wonders of the
universe. Shows are held daily between 3 - 6 p.m. in English. Apart
from that, there are other audio-visual shows, pictures and dioramas,
and also an excellent library.
The Nehru Centre, adjacent to the Planetarium is worth
a visit for its Discovery of India exhibition. Set off in the morning
to the Planetarium and first purchase the tickets for the show. Then
you can wander about in the premises of the Planetarium and take in the
various tableaus, before you go for the sky show.
Wednesday: Going to South Mumbai is a good one day outing. Wander around the Gateway of India and take a harbour cruise by the Mumbai coast. Then head to Colaba to spend some time at the Port
Trust garden. This small botanical garden formed out of wasteland is a
great place for children to play ball, roll on the grass or walk along
the pathways gazing at the trees.
In the evening, go to see the 'Queen's Necklace' at
Nariman Point, better-known as Marine Drive. The street lights lining
the curved roadside look like a diamond necklace, hence the epithet.
This place has a little something for everyone. For the toddler there
are joy-rides on toy-motorbikes and toy cars. Munch on peanuts and
drink tender coconut water, in the monsoons eat corn-on-the-cob, watch
the sunset and gaze into the Arabian Sea as the fishing boats go by.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation runs open roof
tourist buses called Nilambari, starting from Nariman Point. This is a
great way of seeing the famous Mumbai skyline with its old art deco
buildings of the British era. In South Mumbai, opposite the Chowpatty
is the Taraporewala Aquarium. It houses a few sea and fresh-water fish
species. Let the young ones revel in the colourful ocean world even as
you educate them on the marine life.
Thursday: It will surprise you to know that in the midst of the
concrete jungle of Mumbai there lies a forest rich in bird life, which
also boasts a few tigers and leopards.
In Sanjay Gandhi National Park, a 104 sq. km protected area you can
indulge in bird-watching or take the tiger safari. The park contains
the Kanheri Caves, Buddhist caves which are a big attraction.
There is the Bombay Natural History Society's Conservation
Education Centre adjacent to the park's Southern entrance. Under the
able care and guidance of the BNHS conservators, children can wander in
a carefree manner observing the trees and watching butterflies. Is
there a better way to learn about nature?
Friday: Near the Western suburb of Goregaon is a picnic spot in
the Aarey Milk Colony. One of the biggest and modern milk factory, the
Central Dairy is open to visitors. Here children can see how cow and
buffalo-milk is filtered and pasteurized before it is bottled. The
Aarey Milk Colony premises are rich in natural beauty and hot favourite
with picnickers and revellers. Carry a packed lunch and set off to
explore the woods.
Saturday: While in Mumbai,
it will be criminal not to pay visit to IMS (Indian Museum Ship)
Vikrant. An aircraft carrier - commissioned in 1961 and decommissioned
in 1997 - it has been converted into a maritime museum and is a
fantastic showcase of the Indian Navy. It has a unique collection of
aircrafts like Breguet Alizes and Sea King helicopters, which children
will, no doubt, enjoy seeing.
Sunday: Have a sumptuous breakfast at any of the eateries
or restaurants in South Mumbai or suburbs and then take in a play or a
movie. Mumbai's cultural scene is bursting with events and shows, even
for children, especially in the holiday season. Mumbai is also the film capital of India, and movie-watching is a big pastime here.
Many shopping malls, bookshops and theatres have programmes and events
particularly for children over the weekend and there is bound to be
something to keep you busy on a Sunday.
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- The Indiaparenting Team