The “island” city of Mumbai is known for a number of recreational hotspots. One such extremely popular spot is, Shivaji Park situated in a residential area known as Dadar. Now, this park is considered to be the “largest” in the city, and is visited by a large number of visitors daily. Furthermore, it is essentially an open space measuring 112, 937 square meters, and is often referred to as the “cradle of Mumbai cricket”. Since this park is not only known for being “socially” vibrant but “politically” active as well, it is important that we understand a few facts about it. So, here is presenting a list of few relevant facts about this park named after the great Maratha King Shivaji.
a. The “Historical” background of Shivaji Park:
It was in the year 1925 during the British Raj that this park was first built by the “Bombay Municipal Corporation”. Initially, it was named “Mahim Park” and was later renamed in 1927 in honour of the Maratha King Shivaji by Avantika Gohkale, a councilor of the Municipal Corporation. It was in the same year that the tennis court in the Shivaji Park Gymkhana (earlier known as Dadar Hindu Gymkhana) was officially made public. Furthermore, it was in November 1931 that the pavilion of the Gymkhana was inaugurated. In addition, this park became the base for the “Samyukta Maharashtra” political movement that eventually led to the creation of an idependent Maharashtra state on May 1st 1960.
b. The famous statue at Shivaji Park:
Located on the western side of this park is a large statute depicting “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” on a horse leading the way using his arm. Apparently, it was using donation contributed by locals living around this park that this statue was built in 1966.
c. Shivaji Park and the “Cricket” Connection:
It was at this park under the guidance of Coach Ramakant Acharekar that the career of Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar first took shape. Furthermore, apart from Tendulkar this park also helped develop careers of great Indian cricketers such as Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Wadekar, Vijay Manjrekar, Sanjay Manjrekar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sandeep Patil, Ajit Agarkar, Vinod Kambli, and Pravin Amre. It is mainly during the months of April to May when school and college students have holidays that coaching camps are held at this park by various cricket coaches.
d. The “Political” connection of Shivaji Park:
It was from the time of the British Raj when gatherings were organized by freedom fighters that this park has been closely associated with politics. It was at this park that the “Samyukta Maharashtra” political movement initiated to form an independent Maharashtra state took shape. It was over here that popular journalist, playwright, and social leader Acharya Prahlad Keshav Atre who led the movement began delivering speeches and attracting a large number of people. In addition, this park also served as the bastion for the popular regional political party originating from this city known as “Shiv Sena” which was led by a charismatic leader Balasaheb Thackeray. In fact, a small memorial has been dedicated to Thackeray (who died on November 17th 2012) at a spot in this park where he was cremated.
e. The “Football” link of Shivaji Park:
Although, it has always been cricket that has been popular at this park. In recent years, due to influence of television the sport football has gradually become popular at this park. As a result a lot more youngsters playing a game of football can be observed nowadays over here. There are also a number of locals club’s such as Dadar XI, Kenkre FC, Adarsh FC etc that regularly practice at this park.
f. The famous “Ganesh Temple” in Shivaji Temple:
Located at this park is a small but popular temple that is home to Lord Ganesh (i.e. The Hindu Elephant God). It is visited by a large number of devotees especially during the evening.
Having myself been born and brought up around the Dadar area I can confidently say that if you want to enjoy an activity filled evening in presence of a vibrant atmosphere then “Shivaji Park” is the place to be.