The Aarey trail is one of the best destinations to cycle in the city of Mumbai. The tiny village is often called as the ‘Aarey Milk Colony’. Milk plants with innumerable cattle’s grazing in the open fields has given a natural identity to this place. The area has a dense green cover and makes it one of the most preferred places for morning activities after the adjacent Sanjay Gandhi National Park. A popular choice for fitness enthusiast and nature lovers, Aarey also attracts visitors because of Filmcity and Chota Kashmir (Chota means small).
Film city, is a place where Bollywood movies and television serials are shot while Chota Kashmir is a recreational garden area featuring a lake. There are paddle boats which are used mostly by tourist arriving from other states in India.
Aarey is often referred as a colony since it includes 12 villages. The open fields also turn up as picnic spot for school and college kids. Since the route connects other parts of city, many vehicles are seen using this stretch on weekdays. It is a single lane route and the roads are not the best to cycle. Therefore MTB bikes will be better instead of road bikes. With limited street lamps, the nights are too dark and the place becomes lonely. There have been instances of leopard attacks in the past therefore people avoid using this route to walk or even use a motorbike. But the morning scenes are very beautiful and lifts up the mood.
I and my friend Shantanu Singh rode on this stretch on a Sunday morning. We arrived there early at 06:15 am and it was dark so we decided to wait for the sun to be up. Shantanu is a local resident of Royal Palms – which is a resident place housing buildings inside Aarey. Shantanu was my guide during this ride and I kept following him.
I encountered many challenges in between the ride. First the chain slipped out of the cassette, then the cycle fell down locking the breaks. But we kept moving ahead and enjoyed photographing the picturesque location. There are several spots inside Aarey where you will find milk centers selling flavored milk, refreshment drinks and water. Most of them were closed in the morning so we bought bananas from the local vendors to gain some energy.
On the way back, we got many photographic moments. We stopped at one of the village which had an abandoned well. The area was perfect to unleash our creative sides so went about testing new ways to click pictures.
On return, Shantanu accompanied me till the start point or the exit of Aarey from where we had started. My misfortunes continued with a punctured tyre just after riding for couple of kilometres. I didn’t have any spare tube or tools to fix it up and had to take a Taxi right upto a cycle shop near my house.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai