A Grand Day Out in the Natural Beauty of Dharavi

leaf growing out of the grille of an abandoned ambassador car
Quick: what is the first think you think of when I say the word ‘Dharavi‘?

Slums. Squalor. Crowds. That movie that everyone was talking about a while back…

Of all the answers you came up with, I doubt that Nature Sanctuary was one of them. But that is indeed what you will find in Dharavi, smack dab in the middle of Mumbai.

Mahim Nature Park (also called Maharashtra Nature Park) is confusingly not in Mahim as most people define it, but sits unassumingly opposite the Dharavi Bus Depot, a five minute rickshaw ride from Sion Circle. Most people have probably never heard of it because you can’t find a single swing-set, merry-go-round or snack stall inside. You will however find plenty of twisting pathways and dense foliage, countless species of plants, flowers, and bugs, all for a meagre Rs.5 entry fee.

It’s a no-frills slice of nature, and a photographer’s dream. Fantastic for a shutterbug’s Sunday out, and a great roadtest for a new camera or lens. I took my Pentax K200D out with me on its first real shakedown, and once again I am reminded that isn’t the camera that needs improvement, it’s my photography skills!

Still, out of the nearly 400 pictures I took on Sunday, quite a few didn’t suck. And here they are:

brick pathway through shallow ditch
young peepal leaves growing out of the bark of a large tree
macro of a caterpillar on a mostly-eaten leaf
large leaves catch the sun and a few raindrops
twisting brick pathway through the foliage, strewn with moss and leaves
a sprig of dry leaves resting on fresh ones
more young leaves of a creeper
old rubber slipper
parijat flower on ground
several parijat flowers
closed flowerbud of a gourd plant
spider versus camera lens
bees feed on the nectar of flowers
sunlight pokes through the thick canopy and hits two young leaves
another mossy, twisting pathway
blue flowers

I had a blast that day despite the heat and humidity, and highly recommend it to any nature lovers & photographers in Mumbai.


More Mountain (well, Hill) Photos

Thumbnail header swatch of quarried mountains in Fujairah
A while ago on a drive through Fujairah and the Northern Emirates I took a bunch of photos of the landscape from the car. It was a nice enough day, but far too grey and harsh, and I didn’t think any of the photos were any good.

A few days ago I was looking through those same photos before archiving them to DVD, and tried playing around with some of the levels. Lo and behold, the peculiar, lovely color of Kodak cameras came into play, and the pictures were suddenly pretty good!

So here are fifteen of the best. You should keep in mind that the day didn’t look like this — but hey, who cares now, the pictures came out good. Enjoy.

Mountains in Fujairah
Dark rain clouds over Mountains in Fujairah
Colourful orange-red Mountains in Fujairah
Quarried Mountains in Fujairah
Quarried Mountains in foreground, other in shadow -- Fujairah
Dust rises from a quarroied mountain in Fujairah
Communication tower at the top of mountain in Fujairah
Dirt road through the mountains in Fujairah
Donut skidmarks on sunny road in front of shadowy mountain in Fujairah
Dry salt marshland at the base of mountains in Fujairah
Four yellow earth movers lined up in front of mountains in Fujairah
Red rocky hill and mountains in Hatta
Highway in Fujairah with streams of sunlight coming through the clouds, and a cement factory in the distance
Undulating range of hills in Ras Al Khaimah
Mountains half in shadow under clouds, in Ras Al Khaimah



Mountains near Yitti in Oman
Small hill by the side of the road near Yitti in Oman
Silhouette of mountains on the road home from Yitti

(These three were taken in Oman last July)