March 20, 2022 6:05:51 pm
Situated at the southernmost tip of the Carter Road promenade in Bandra, Joggers’ Park – a popular jogging track among residents of the upmarket Bandra area – caters to a dedicated community of athletes, runners, walkers and tourists to the metropolis.
The oval-shaped park, with the sea on its two sides, is located right next to the upscale Otters Club. The soothing ocean breeze makes it an ideal spot for a refreshing walk or run. Jogging tracks of different kinds take up most of the park’s four-acre space. This includes a mud track, a synthetic/rubberised track, a cobblestone one and a concrete track. In fact, Joggers’ Park is only the second garden in the city to boast of a synthetic track.
On entering the park, a children’s play area greets visitors on the left side and is often seen teeming with tots, their parents and caretakers. Its numerous swings, slides, climbing tracks and the soft sponge flooring make it quite an inviting zone for kids aged between 2 and 7. Gym equipment, hardly used, adorn a corner on the right side. All tracks and pathways in the park are distinct from each other and the walking, running routes are clearly marked.
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The centre of the park has a lawn and a pond with a bridge that attracts tourists and selfie-clickers. The lawns often have groups of children playing games, while teens wander around in search of the perfect spot to shoot a reel. In the mornings and evenings, the park is full of joggers and runners. A corner in the garden, which opens to a side that faces the five-km long Worli Sea Link bridge, hosts a laughing club. The launch of the city’s first laughing club is credited to Joggers’ Park.
For leisurely walkers and those catching their breath after cardio, the outermost ring – lined with coconut trees, benches and single chairs facing the west – is the most sought-after zone in the evenings because it allows a glimpse of the majestic sunset.
The garden, which holds a special place among the locals, has been a focal point of protests to save the original glory of the park. In 2017, when the Mumbai civic body decided to take over the maintenance of the garden from a private trust and develop it along the lines of Japanese zen gardens, the locals initiated the ‘Save Joggers Park’ movement. Over 20 residents met the then municipal commissioner and engaged with the garden department to restore the aesthetic of the park instead of turning it into a zen garden.
For the locals, the seaside jogging track is a landmark and a prized possession originally developed from a garbage dump in the 1990s. The credit for developing the park, which sees a footfall of over a thousand during the weekends, goes to former hockey coach Oliver Andrade, fondly known as ‘Sir’. A plaque placed at the entrance of the park in Andrade’s memory reads: “From Sir, With Love”.
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