A serene view of the beach and sky, a playful breeze mixed with the sounds of gushing waves and the swaying coconut trees along with a panoramic sight of the sealink as the sun sets behind it are some of the many attractions at the Veer Ratna Baji Prabhu Deshpande Udyan, better known as Narali Baug (coconut garden), located in Shivaji Park, a silence zone in Dadar (west).
The garden, along the coastline with the sea barely 10 metres away from it, is aptly named Narali Baug as it is filled with 185 coconut trees.
A perfect getaway for citizens bored by the daily hustles and pollution of the city, Narali Baug, unlike many other gardens in Mumbai, has something to attract people of all age groups.
Children joyously riding their little bicycles to couples enjoying a quiet romantic time close to the beach to senior citizens on morning and evening walks, you get to see all while out on a stroll inside the garden.
On the one side aspiring dancers are polishing their moves and bibliophiles, seated on the green grass in another corner, are having some quality reading time. While yoga sessions keep a few others engaged, a dedicated section with swings, slides, and seesaws is a hit among children.
The garden has two entrances; one from the right side of a lane where on the left side you have the historic Chaitya Bhoomi (shrine), a Buddhist religious place where Dr B.R. Ambedkar was cremated. Many who come to visit Chaitya Bhoomi later spend some quality time inside the garden.
The main entrance is located across the road from the historic Shivaji Park ground, where legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar took to the game as a kid.
As you enter the garden from the main gate, a huge arch reminding the Gateway of India greets you. Erected by Swami Narayan Temple Trust in 2009, the arch has 1,008 Ganesh idols sculpted in different poses inside it.
Just behind the arch, you can see the massive sealink right from Bandra to Worli, possibly the only coast which offers a panoramic view of the structure.
The entire garden is divided into two parts by a concrete pathway. On one side, there are green pastures of grass and the other has red soil.
The garden also has a cupola surrounded by bleachers made up of rocks on one side which is a favourite spot for college-goers to hang out.
As the sun sets, many youngsters who come from far off places practice their dance moves under the cupola. Some distance away, a soft cushion mat has also been laid for these dancers to practice their risky moves like flips and head spins.
There are many seats placed across the gardens where people can sit down below the shade of towering coconut trees to have long chats while gazing through the horizon and watching the sun go down. At night, the seats are lit up with different colour LED lights installed inside them making it a perfect background for clicking photos with family.
As the garden attracts many children, amusement rides like a mini merry-go-round and mini-Ferris wheel are stationed outside the garden with hawkers all around its gates selling mouth-watering tamarind and raw mango sprinkled with salt and spices. For those who feel hungry, there are snack stalls offering sev puri, vada pav and others on the beach.
Initially, there were two gardens here made many years ago. They were joined in a complete makeover and re-inaugurated in February 2009. It is a perfect place to spend an evening and visitors may find time to see the Udyan temple, life-like statue of Shivaji Maharaj on the nearby ground and other significant places in the vicinity.