The Aarey trail is one of the best place to cycle in the city of Mumbai. The tiny village is often called as ‘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; identical to 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 used mostly by tourist arriving from other parts of India.
Aarey is often referred as a ‘Colony’ since it comprises of 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’s are recommended to ride on this route.
With limited street lamps, the nights go pitch dark and the trail becomes isolated. 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 blissful and lifts up the mood.
My friend Shantanu Singh and I rode on this stretch on a Sunday morning. We arrived early at the Goregoan east entrance at 06:15 am, and decided to wait for the sunrise. Shantanu is a local resident of Royal Palms – which is a residential locality housing buildings inside Aarey. Shantanu was my guide during this ride and I kept following him.
I faced quite a few difficulties in between the ride. First, the chain slipped out of the cassette, then the cycle fell down locking the breaks. Somehow, I managed to fix it and we kept moving ahead and enjoyed photographing the picturesque location.
There are several spots inside Aarey where you will find milk stalls selling flavored milk, lassi, 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 photo opportunities. We stopped at one of the village which had an abandoned well. The area was perfect to explore our creative sides so went about trying new tricks and clicked pictures.
On return, Shantanu accompanied me till the start point or the exit of Aarey from where we had started. A couple of kilometers of cycling and my misfortunes continued with a punctured tyre. I didn’t have a spare tube or tools to fix it up, so took a taxi right upto a cycle shop near my house.
I have been to Aarey twice for cycling and returned with a puncture on both occasions. I think am jinxed.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai