It’s been a while since my last visit to Mumbai zoo, officially known as Jijamata Udyaan. At that time I just moved to India and my husband was showing me around the city. My impression about the place was very positive, and not only because of the variety of animals I had a chance to see, but also because of the beautiful garden that houses the zoo and fragments of the old colonial architecture – one of the things I like so much about Mumbai. Still, when we finally decided to take the kids to this zoo, I kind of hoped they’d improved maintenance of the area and filled the empty cages with animals. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet, but the place still retains its charm and the kids were thrilled and excited, so what else one would need? 🙂
Now, it’s rather difficult to travel around Mumbai with three little kids, so we decided to make two trips: firstly my husband and me took the girls, and next day I went there with Ares. Even if a ten-months-old baby won’t remember much, I didn’t want to deprive him, and he also had a great time. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge the camera, so we have no pictures from the first trip, so all the photos here are from my second visit.
It was the first time I travelled by Mumbai local trains alone, without my husband, in-laws or friends, when the mission was complete I couldn’t help being proud of myself 🙂 We started our journey at the Vashi Train Station in Navi Mumbi. The price of the return ticket to Chhatrapati SHivaji Terminus (CST)is only 30 Rs (approximately $0,5). Are there still such prices in the world? It takes 45 min to 1 hour to reach CST, and during this journey one has a chance to observe different scenes from life of the poorest inhabitants of Mumbai – the rail road is lined up with slums. I travelled in a ladies’ compartment, marked with this sign
, so it was not very crowded.
When we finally reached, I bought a ticket to Byculla for 10 Rs ($0,16), admiring the station while standing in the queue.
Byculla is only three stations away from SCT, and it’s easy to find your way from the station to the zoo – everything you have to do is cross the road under the bridge, turn to the left and walk until you see the entrance to the garden and a beautiful building of Bhau Daji Lad Museum (former Victoria and Albert Museum) – it’s just next to the zoo. By the way, I was sure the word “zoo” is understandable even to those who don’t speak English, but it’s not so. So, it’s better to write this Hindi word on a piece of paper and show it when asking for directions – chidyaghar.
Before buying the tickets, we paid tribute to this exquisite monument – the clock tower was getting more and more beautiful with every step I made towards it.
There are lots of interesting details one can notice only at a close range. For example, look at this veiled face,
or this pillar,
, or these stone flowers and ornaments.
But well, it’s time to buy the tickets. The entrance fees – only 5 Rs for an adult and 2 Rs for a child. Additionally I paid 30 Rs for the video camera. Now we can go through the Ornamental Gateway, where the police checks the tickets and takes away bottles of water and cold drinks – for some reason they are not allowed at the territory of the zoo. But let’s do them justice: they let me keep the bottle of milk for the baby. The Gateway is another masterpiece with lots of interesting details.
But let’s go ahead into the garden: the original British name of Mumbai zoo was the Victoria Gardens and it was laid in out in 1861. The property belonged to David Sassoon, a rich Jewish businessman who later donated it to the municipal corporation of Mumbai. The gardens of Mumbai zoo feature lots of interesting plants, some of them are really ancient. Just near the entrance – these two baobabs. I saw these trees for the first time in my life and, of course, immediately remembered “The Little Prince” who used to eradicate them from his planet 🙂
But here is the first cage with lots of birds, the signs say you can see there the following species:
Ares was fascinating by the site of these big birds, and the people around were fascinated by him:) Whenever we went, we attracted as much attention as the inhabitants of the zoo, and sometimes even more 🙂
Then we saw more birds
Then – motionless crocodiles
Then emus and monkeys
Somewhere in between I sat on the bench to feed Ares.
He drank milk and ate a mix of milk and biscuits when we were approached by a policeman. “What are you feeding this baby”, – he asked. To be honest, for a moment I was wondering what made him ask this question – not only animals but your own babies are not supposed to be fed at the zoo?:) But no, he just wanted to start a conversation. After a standard set of questions (Where are you from? Is it not too hot for you here?) he gave his compliments to Ares and welcomed me to his country.
After this little meal Ares was especially cheerful and didn’t mind people taking photos with him. Firstly one couple asked to lend then the baby for a nice picture, then – a few more:)
Then we saw some more animals…
… and not only behind the bars – squirrels in the grass, parrots in a big majestic tree, and even bats were a lot of fun to observe.
There are a few interesting monuments in the park:
This is King Edward VII
This is Shivaji, founder of the Maratha Empire, and his mother Jijabai.
And this is Britannia, a female personification of the Empire.
And also there are lots of different plants and plant arrangements that I found much more spectacular than the animals in the cages. Here are a few:
So, if you happen to visit Mumbai, the zoo is worth visiting, but only if you have an extra day. If your time in the city is limited, it’s better to schedule something else – there are so many places in Mumbai to see!
Byculla zoo timing: 9.00 to 18.00. It’s usually closed on Wednesdays.
Byculla zoo ticket prices –
5 Rs for an adult;
2 Rs for a child;
10 Rs for an ordinary camera;
30 Rs for a movie camera.
Address: Jijamata Udyaan, Dr. Babasaheb Road,Dr. Byculla East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400008