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Monday, January 24, 2022

Mumbai Greens: Bhatia Baug, a getaway from hustles and bustles of city

Located across the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus, Bhatia Baug offers travellers a space to catch a break. A century-old tram car on display here showcases the city's transport history.

Written by Sadaf Modak | Mumbai |
December 19, 2021 12:20:07 pm
Visitors at the L R Tersee Bhatia Baug

One of the busiest railway stations in the city, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus is an opening shot for many movies to denote the hustle of the city. Its residents are often shown moving hurriedly with no time to wait.

Away from this rush, at the L R Tersee Bhatia Baug, located across the station, time moves slower.

An easy-to-miss garden if you are in a rush, the park offers a space for many to catch a break. Many Mumbaikars may have noticed the park, spread across 4,466 square meters, only while waiting for a bus. They may have never stepped into it.

After you have figured out the entrance gate of the roundabout park, you will notice the tall coconut and palm trees forming a canopy over it, offering a welcoming shade. At the entrance is an out-of-place sculpture of a woman decked up in gold, traditional attire carrying a pot of water, without any explanation for its placement. A few cement lions are also strewn around the park.

The entrance of the L R Tersee Bhatia Baug

A new addition to the park made earlier this year is a more suitable one. A century-old relic of the past transport system, a tram. The route number 8, red-cream coloured tram which would play between Flora Fountain and Opera House is seen here with a driver and a conductor, the latter welcoming people with folded hands.

Placing the tram at the park was a decision taken by the civic body last year following the nod from the heritage committee to showcase the city’s transport history. Trams were seen on the city’s roads for 90 years from May 9, 1974 to March 31, 1964 before they were discontinued.

Enter the park and on the right, a plaque with the history of trams in the city can be seen. It informs that trams ran on 31 routes with a capacity of 40 passengers. Run by the Bombay Electric Supply and Tramways Company, the trams were manufactured by the London-based English Electrical Engineering Company. The text-heavy silver plaque does not find a lot of attention among the park’s visitors while some take selfies with the tram. The plaque carries trivia like how the trams were initially pulled by horses.

The tram, chosen to be placed at the park also due to its proximity to the original tram route, also has a yesteryear advertisement on its side of camera and photography rolls.

The tram seen from outside while passing the D N Road may bring a few more visitors to the garden.

Walking away from the tram, the park is a much sought-after place for rest for outstation travellers. A visit to the park would usually mean watching people sitting with knapsacks or light luggage, whiling away till their long-distance trains arrive a few hours later as they prefer to sit out in an open park than a railway station bench or waiting room.

The park is divided into various sections. One has a play area for children with swings, slides and a merry-go-round. Evenings see schoolchildren from public schools, still in their uniforms make a quick stop at the park to ride on the merry-go-round, teaching each other tricks to make it go faster. One can also notice a few roosters pecking at the mud.

The park’s lawns are not well-maintained due to the constant inflow of people. The few boards inside it are all about dos and don’ts with little information on its botany. One will notice a few potted plants and a few frangipani trees. But the park’s main attractions are its many benches to rest on.

Enter the park and on the right, a plaque with the history of trams in the city can be seen

Afternoons see visitors take naps on the benches and lawns. A few swings for adults– with rules stating that only two can sit at a time — are in high demand. One section of the park is an open gym with fitness equipment which also has a few takers.

The tram seen from outside while passing the D N Road may bring a few more visitors to the garden. And while at it, apart from the history lesson, the park will also offer a getaway from the rush outside.

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