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 Shivaji Park - The popular playground of Mumbai 

Buzzing with activityShivaji Park is one of the most prominent parks (ground) in Mumbai, which is often buzzing with activity all round the year. Shivaji Park was opened for the general public by Bombay Municipal Corporation in the year 1925. Shivaji Park is located in the northeast part of Mumbai, which is an ideal location for organising large congregations like public meetings, conferences, etc. The Park stands testimony to the huge rallies, meetings and demonstrations, which were organised during the British rule and the Samyukta Maharashtra movement. The Park can also take pride in the huge statue of the great Maratha king Shivaji, which was installed after collecting funds from the people in 1966. Shivaji Park is also the favourite haunt of many youngsters, sport lovers and elderly people. The katta (parapet), which encircles the Park, is a meeting point for people from all walks of life.

Practising karateThe Shivaji Park area, was originally a part of the Mahim bay and its inhabitants were the Bhandaris, Sutars, Kolis (fishermen) and Christians. Except for a few pedestrian routes between Parel and Mahim Island, the whole area encompassing the Park was covered with marshy grass. The local people filled the creeks with big rocks as this region formed the route between Mahim Island and Parel area, which became famous by the name Dadar.

Shivaji Park is reckoned as the nursery of Indian cricket, which has produced great cricketers like Vijay Manjrekar, Subhash Gupte, Chandu Patankar, Manohar Hardikar, Baloo Gupte, Ramakant Desai, Ajit Wadekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Sandeep Patil, Sanjay Manjrekar, Sachin Tendulkar, Pravin Amre, etc, over the last several decades.

Shivaji Park is a beehive of young aspiring cricketers, who practice their skills under the supervision of their coaches. The Park houses more than 30 nets of different clubs like Western Railway, Young Mahim, Training classesRegal Club, Bharat CC, Mahim Juvenile, Shivaji Park Gymkhana, etc, for the purpose of practicing cricket. Renowned coach Ramakant Achrekar also trains his boys in the nets. The Park has the popular physical education institution VV Shree Samarth Vyayam Mandir, which offers training in mallakhamb, khokho, kabaddi, yoga, gymnastics, wrestling and body building.

Assistant coach Naresh Kumar Churi, who represented the Railway team in the Ranji Trophy from 1983 to 1989, has been closely associated with Ramakant Achrekar for the past 25 years. Naresh Churi said, “Shivaji Park has a very progressive atmosphere for cricket. The children residing in the adjoining colonies of the Park, can easily drop into the ground (Park), with their bats to play the game. In fact, we have boys who come from distant places like Virar and Kalyan, to practice their skills .”

With the arrival of the summer season, which also coincides with the vacation in schools and colleges; the youngsters from the adjoining areas of Shivaji Park and even those from the far flung places like Virar, Dombivali, Kalyan, etc, will continue to flush the Park with their hectic (sports) activity.

By: Wasim Siddiqui

Photos by: Vinayak Prabhu

 

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