Don’t turn your kids into mallrats

Let’s face it. Cities aren’t what they used to be. There’s no place in our cities for kids to run and play, explore the gifts of nature, or even breathe clean air. Go back to your childhood and remember the spaces you played in, the wind in your face, scraping your knee on wild grass, sinking little hands into the patient earth. I am not sure many of us can offer this to our kids today.

The only time left after school quickly disappears in homework and tuitions. What’s left are weekends. And with everything that’s involved, most of us end going out to dinner, aimlessly walking the corridors of a stuffy mall or watching a movie. But it needn’t be. I found 10 (yes, 10!) great places for you to go in Mumbai that aren’t malls or movies. Feel free to let me know if you can think of any more.

Rooftop ruckus

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An open-air bus with rooftop seats in which you can tour through South Mumbai’s historical attractions? Sounds like a novel outing to take your kids on a weekend!

The Nilambari Open-Deck Bus Tour showcases key locations in South Mumbai such as Mantralaya, the Queen’s Necklace, Asiatic Library, and so on, with a tour guide in tow. I honestly cannot think of a better way to help your kids fall in love with their city.

Booking contact telephone nos.  2284 5678 (5 Lines).

Gateway of India counter Tel.No. 2284 1877

A shortcut of a cruise

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To feel the sea breeze on your skin. To see the sea gulls flying close to you as you cruise by in a boat. To look back on the city you call your own even as you are afloat in the middle of the sea. Such an outing could be both fun and informative.

Every day of the week, from 9.30 am to late evenings, ferry boats operate a quick 20-30 minute trip that starts and ends at the Gateway of India. For ticket prices, check with the ferry operators on the spot.

Bring out your water babies

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H2O, a beach side water sports center facilitates water adventures  at the Girgaum Chowpatty beach. From platform parasailing to thrilling speedboat rides, there are special adventures that even kids (eight years and above only) can participate in.

Water Sports Centre Address: Girgaum Chowpatty, Mumbai 400007, Next to Charni Road station. Phone:+91-22-23677546

A slice of history

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Suddenly, the forts in Maharashtra are back in focus. Sewri Fort is one of these. After it served its place during the colonial times, the fort was soon converted to a warehouse and continues to be used as one to this day. The fort is pretty close to Sewri station.

Anyone who has been to Bandra Bandstandwill know about the Bandra Fort. There are other historical forts located within the city. The best part of visiting them is that there are no queues, no ticketing charges and you can spend as much time as you like over there. Pack a picnic basket and go on a day or half day trip to any of the forts.

Something fishy this way comes

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One of the definitive tourist attractions in Mumbai, the Taraporewala Aquarium on Marine Drive is India’s oldest aquarium and is home to a wide variety of marine and freshwater fishes.

With over 2,000 fish of over 400 species, the aquarium is a place to take your kids to get them acquainted to magnificent marine life. Note that the aquarium is open for visitors from 10:00 am to1:00 pm and 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Entry fees are Rs. 60 for adults and Rs. 30 for children and students with ID cards. You will need to pay extra if you carry still/video cameras.

Get close to nature

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The Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS) conducts regular nature trails in and around the city. Established in 1883 through a collaborative effort of Britishers and Indians, it continues to strive for nature conservation. Besides nature trails and camps, it also encourages visitors to BNHS Hornbill House, which is open from Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, except public holidays.

Here, you can shop for books and souvenirs and browse through the humungous Natural History Collection of specimens such as mammals, birds, insects, and reptiles. It is supposed to be one of the finest natural history collections in Asia. Students, researchers, and nature lovers may visit inside with prior appointment. Take an appointment or two and give your kids an enthralling experience!

There is also a library with over 22,000 books and research journals on wildlife, environment conservation, and so on. You can get the kids to browse through some of these and then devise some art project or fun activity based on this once they return home.

Click here to see the official site where you can find lots of useful information.

Check out Mumbai’s own national park

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The Sanjay Gandhi National Park, formerly called Borivali National Park, has animals, birds, fishes and reptiles, and is also home to a wide variety of flora. There’s also a recreation area inside the forest for kids.

For more details on the park and how to reach it, click here.

Caving in

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Besides forts, Mumbai’s historical legacy also includes some well-carved caves. Two of the well-known ones are Kanheri Caves and Mahakali Caves.

Kanheri Caves are located in Borivali and are a legacy of the Buddhist culture. 109 caves were carved out of dark basalt rock by Buddhist monks. Some of these were intended as shrines and some as shelters.

The park (and therefore, the caves) is open to public any time after 7:30 a.m. and before 6.00 pm.

The Mahakali Caves in Andheri are another set of rock-cut monuments carved by early Buddhist monks. Unlike Kanheri, here, the number of caves is much smaller, around 19.

Water park madness

The best way to beat the unbearable heat would be to take off to the nearest water park every now and then and spend time splashing about in various rides or just chilling in the cool waters of the wave pool. Mumbai has several good water parks, including one of Asia’s biggest, Water Kingdom.

Adrenaline ahoy

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Launched in 2013, Adlabs Imagica is an amusement park located near Khopoli, around 70 kms from Mumbai. The park has many unusual rides and themed attractions. There’s also a themed water park called AquaMagica.

Throughout the year, during various festive seasons, huge discounts are offered for the tickets. Take advantage of these offers and have a fun time letting your hair down with the kids. Who knows, it might make you feel like a kid again!

Here’s the official website.

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