For every child, a visit to the zoo is always a fascinating experience. If you were born in the 80’s and 90’s, you probably have already started re-collecting your golden days of visits to the zoo in the company of parents or as part of school excursions.
Back to present, the technological progress and the virtual world bliss in the comfort of our homes have made us complacent. Many talked about and must visit sights of our childhood have or are slowly perishing. One such victim is the zoo or is it the animals in the zoo who are the many victims?
Jijamata Udyan or Ranichi Baug is a famous zoo in overcrowded Mumbai. It is also popularly called the Byculla Zoo. Spread over 48 acres in Byculla, it is one of the oldest zoos in India dating back to 1861. Back then, it was called Victoria Gardens. If British wanted everything to be named after their queen, Mumbaikars today want everything named after Shivaji Maharaj – A Prominent Maratha Ruler. Here again, the zoo has been named after Shivaji’s mother – Jijabai. In the heart of the garden is a statue of Jijabai with her son Shivaji.
Byculla Zoo, although vast, is in an unimpressive state. Animals are few and apathetically caged. Among the ones present, you may enjoy viewing the Monkeys, Hippopotamus, Crocodiles, Deer and Hyena. The White Peacock is another extinct bird still in there. It has to be your very lucky day to spot a lion. But the best view is that of the Elephants. A large piece of land is dedicated to the elephants so they can move freely in an open space. Visitors either stand near the 4ft wall or comfortably sit and enjoy viewing these mammals. Another sight worth a mention is that of the flamingos caged in the company of other birds. Together they make for a perfect definition of harmony.
Just besides the zoo is the Dr.Bhau Daji Lad Museum, formerly, Victoria and Albert Museum. It has been recently refurbished and is a must visit for Art, History and to some extent Architecture lovers.
Zoo is open on all days (except Wednesday) between 9am and 6pm. Entry is Rs. 5 for adults, lesser for kids. Outside eatables are not allowed inside the zoo. Good thing, as at times we can get quite insensible with our littering. Your bags will be frisked at the entrance by semi uniformed employees for security reasons and to check if you are carrying outside eatables. There’s a small food van outside the entrance of the zoo that sells chips, sandwiches and soft drinks. Car parking space is ample.
Ranichi Baug can be reached by train on the central line. Your nearest station is Byculla from where it’s a walkable distance. On the western line, get off at Mumbai Central from where the zoo is 10 to 15 minutes away. It’s a famous landmark and a taxi should reach you there easily.
In a nutshell….
Pay your tributes. The animals are getting fewer by the day and eventually there will be no animals.
No animals means No zoo, Obviously!!
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