Written by: Kanak Singh
You might draw a blank stare if you ask a local about directions to Joseph Baptista Gardens. But enquire about Mazgaon garden, you will be promptly pointed to an uphill path. Dotted with flowerbeds, the 135-year-old garden is spread over 1.5 acres atop Bhandarwada hill, the highest point in Mazgaon, a quaint dockyard suburb.
The garden is a 15-minute walk from the Dockyard station on the harbour line. Along this stretch, you will find several architectural delights – Prince Aly Khan Hospital, churches, bungalows and villas.
After the uphill climb, a picturesque harbour view awaits you. The best time to enjoy the view is during sunrise. The wooden benches have been placed close together facing east. Delivering serenity in the thick of a buzzing cityscape, to reach this beautiful ground you need to enter through a massive gate and walk the uphill path which has been paved out inside. The garden may be one of the few sites in the town from where you can have the view of a chaotic railway station filled with people trying to catch their trains, a shipyard and a panoramic view of the harbour.
The front gate offers a view of the whole garden and there are two pathways to take you around the garden. While it may take some time and effort to check out all the seven wonders across the globe, till then one can visit this garden for their replicas built on just one hectare of land, along the pathway. Follow the pathway and first, you will land at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, making your way to Rio, to the Christ the Redeemer Statue, walk ahead and you can sit at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. From Paris, the ride will take you to Chichen Itza Pyramid in Mexico and then to the USA to halt at the Statue of Liberty. Before visiting the last wonder – the Colosseum in Rome – you can take a trip to the home country to visit the Taj Mahal.
The park also sits on a water reservoir built in 1884, that continues to supply water to some parts of south Mumbai. It was named after the then municipal commissioner of Bombay, John Hay Grant. Later, after India gained independence, the garden was renamed after freedom fighter, lawyer Joseph Baptista, popularly known as mayor kaka.
The garden is divided into three parts. On the pathway, a flight of stairs takes you to the children’s area. Next to it is a smaller garden that has gazebos for one to sit, chat and take in the mesmerising view. It also has a pathway for those who want to continue walking, draw in a yoga mat or explore the rest of the garden.
“This garden is centrally located, we come here every evening just to enjoy the calm and to sit and talk with our friends. This is one of the only gardens which is senior-citizen friendly and offers a slope for the ones who come on a wheelchair,” said a senior citizen.
The garden is one of the hidden spots, undiscovered by lingering tourists or any chaos. This green space is the perfect place to go for your evening walk, it’s a space where you can just go to experience the calm amid the buzzing city.