Mumbai is a well-known city today, often termed as ‘The City of Dreams’ that has never failed to captivate and fascinate its plethora of visitors and sometimes even the locals who have been living here for quite some time. This city sparkles like a Queen’s necklace in the open Arabian sea of Maharashtra and is almost always awake around the clock. But not everyone is still aware that this kaleidoscopic and on-the-go city also houses some placid and tranquil places within its boundaries that will help you explore it in a new light every time you visit Mumbai, and if you live here, you would be startled to know that such an alluring spot exists in this mesmerizing urban jungle. With that in mind, I write this post on Vihar lake which is one such hidden natural spot that I recently explored in the heart of Mumbai.
Constructed in the year 1860 by the British government on the Mithi river within the confines of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Vihar lake is considered to be one of the largest and one of the oldest drinking water lake for the Mumbaikers. This lake and its dam was built within 4 years i.e. from 1856 to 1860 under the reign of British Government. The main purpose of this man-made lake was mainly to overcome the drinking water woes that the people of Mumbai were suffering during the olden times. It is fascinating to note that, even though it was built centuries ago, as of today Vihar lake & dam still helps in fulfilling some of the drinking water needs of the Mumbaikers.
Just a few minutes walk from the Vihar lake will bring you to a beautiful park which is constructed next to the Dam. From here, three earthen embankment dams with a masonry spillway section can be easily seen. The park is open to visitors and one can peacefully sit and enjoy the fabulous view of the nature and the lake.
Vihar lake is also home to several varieties of flora and fauna like the Khair trees which invite a lot of migratory birds every year. This simply adds to the innate beauty of the lake and makes it a great spot especially for nature and bird lovers.
WHERE IS VIHAR LAKE IN MUMBAI?
Imagine a scenery where the rocky, rugged Sahyadri ranges and the tiny hills surrounding all the sides of a lake, welcoming you as if waiting for you since quite some time. The tiny fishes swimming in the crystal clear lake water in Mumbai. The best part i.e. the wow factor of the location being nothing but the unfocused horizon between the sky and the lake with birds flying in a distant. Such a mirror image of the sky on the lake along with the abundance of natural beauty around sounds dreamy? but trust me, it is for real and can be found right here in Mumbai at Vihar lake, but how to get there?
An easy trail of about 2-3 kms to the mesmerizing Vihar lake starts from the nearby village named as Sahi Banguda village. This particular village is located at around 6.5 km from the entrance into Aarey colony from Goregaon highway. Besides that you should also know that this beautiful trail from the Sahi Banguda village till the lake has the complete ability to transport you away from the chaos of a big city and into the lap of mother nature. Trust me, I had a hard time believing that such a beautiful spot exists in Mumbai that too since so many years and I was yet to explore it. This particular trail is covered with tall coconut trees on both the sides along with small hills and is surrounded by the natural greenery of the National Park.
It is difficult to identify the route from the village to the lake due to lack of sign boards around. One might take a longer time to find their way to the lake from the entrance. Hence, it is suggested to get the directions from the nearby locals beforehand or to ask one of them to accompany you on the trail.
ACTIVITIES IN VIHAR LAKE:
Mumbaikers can now rejoice as we have a new scenic location to spend time with our family and friends and also to undertake activities near the lake. Some of these activities are:
1) Picnic at the lake: The serene and picturesque lake is a great spot to have a picnic especially with your partner or with your friends. Also, if you are lucky, you may have the lake all to yourselves.
2) Bird watching: Birds are amazing creatures and rarely do we see a few of them flapping around in this big city. Natural spots on the other hand is surrounded by these colorful, intelligent, vocal, flying creatures. It can be a superb delight to get to observe them better and what better place to go and learn more about them than Vihar lake?
3) Crocodile Park: A crocodile park, with crocodiles of various sizes and species, has also been setup in the lake area. This provides a great spot to witness these reptiles in various sizes and forms in their habitat.
4) Photoshoots: Photoshoots at Vihar lake is slowly becoming popular for its mesmerizing natural location with a beautiful scenic backdrop. At times one can spot several pre-wedding shoots, film shoots happening at various spots around the lake.
Unfortunately, camping is not allowed in the precincts of Vihar lake due to limited access to the lake and also as Vihar lake is classified as protected area by the Government authorities, unless special permission is obtained from the competent authorities for the same. But if you wish to stay in this area, there are several lodges nearby. Even the villagers living in the Sahi Banguda village might let you live with them for a small fee.
IMPORTANT TIPS ON VIHAR LAKE:
1) Please avoid swimming in Vihar lake as there are several instances of people drowning here and also because the lake inhabits fresh water Mugger or Marsh crocodiles (Crocodilus palustris) in sustainable numbers.
2) The entrance to the park is free of cost and the best time to visit it would be in rainy season followed by the winters.
3) The lake and its catchment comes under protected area and hence only some part of the lake is kept accessible to the general public however to access the other areas special permission can be obtained from authorities of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
4) Crocodiles, snakes and other reptiles can be seen along the shoreline. Do not try to feed them or play with them as the situation might turn grave.
5) Due to its secluded location its recommended to travel in groups while visiting the Vihar Lake.
Now that you have the information you need about Vihar lake, go ahead and plan your trip/picnic with your friends or loved ones amidst the nature. This time add Vihar lake to the “must-visit” places to explore in Mumbai and create an itinerary that also takes you through the roads less traveled. It will change the way you see and experience Mumbai, forever. I promise.
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