Acres of lush greenery have been the rarest of rare sights in Mumbai. One such patch called the Aarey Milk Colony spreads over 4000 acres in Goregaon – a Mumbai suburb.
Established in 1949, Aarey Milk Colony was built to house the government owned Aarey milk plant. It was inaugurated by India’s first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Over years, Aarey colony developed to accommodate lush gardens, a Tree nursery and an observation pavilion. Another of its popular attraction is Chhota Kashmir – Boating and picnic facility. These are apart from little booths that sell milk and other dairy products along the 7km stretch. The colony is also a site for film and television shootings. In its prime days, Aarey milk built subsidiaries at Worli and Kurla which exist at these locations till date.
If you recollect, Aarey were the giants that supplied milk to every household in Mumbai right until the early years of 2000. Back then, every house would keep empty Aarey bottles outside their doorstep and the milkman would exchange them with refilled ones. Mumbaikars got accustomed to this system of consumption until tetra packs ventured and increased the shelf life of milk.
Aarey, today, has failed to stand its ground against rivals and is a deteriorating milk plant. On the surface level, it seems like even government isn’t paying much attention to this once flourishing plant. And it should not be soon that the factory will fall victim to land sharks eyeing the property.
If you are interested in knowing about the working of this once flourishing plant, Aarey obliges to give tours to visitors, which is a facility they have continued to offer since many years. The site is a favourite with schools in Mumbai as a field trip. Although, the machinery and working conditions are nothing to boast of, it is still a good visit for the young at school who are ever so curious to know how stuffs work.
The vast grasslands of Aarey are home to few wild animals. There have been cases of leopard attacks at the Aarey milk colony. Another deterrent is the condition of roads which are in pretty bad state, making the drive rather bumpy. On the brighter side, BMC (local govt. body) has withdrawn the collection of toll charge from commuters.
Aarey milk colony is located in Goregaon east, off the Western Express Highway. Nearest train station is Goregaon. The city’s favourite passenger transport – Auto rickshaws are easily available. Buses (no. 326, 341, 450, 451, 460, 479) also take you to Aarey milk colony. You will, however, be at your own convenience to wander around if you have your own vehicle.
A Word of caution: It can get unsafe for women to walk in the night as the place lacks sufficient streetlights and the sights of human dwelling are few and far between.
In a Nutshell:
Treat it like a budget picnic spot. A decent place to hang out. Bring your children if you are a family. Aarey Milk factory tours happen from 4pm to 6pm. As the temperature cools down, head to Chhota Kashmir for boating.
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