The Jijamata Udyan, formerly known as Ranichi Bagh after the original British name Victoria Gardens, is located in Byculla. It is among the oldest zoos in India and dates back to 1861. Did you know that Jijamata Udyan, Byculla is the only zoo in Mumbai? This Mumbai zoo has withstood the test of time rather remarkably and continues to be a source of joy and knowledge for children as well as adults. This NearFox article on the zoo is going to refresh your memories if you have already been there and if not, it will make you want to visit.
Timings and Tickets
The zoo is open every day except Wednesdays and the timings are as follows-
Summer: 9:00 AM to 6:15 PM
Winter: 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Monsoon: 9:00 AM to 5:45 PM
The entry fee is Rs. 5 per person (which might increase without notice)
How to reach
The nearest station to the zoo is Byculla on the central line and from there one can walk the 1 km distance. There are buses plying towards the zoo and these are bus numbers 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 15, 19, 21, 22, 25, 50, 51, 65, 67, 69, 134, 126. Western line commuters can get down at Mumbai Central station and take a cab which will approximately cost Rs. 45-50 one way. People travelling by harbour line can de-board at Reay Road station and then hire a cab towards the zoo.
Image by Pixabay
The zoo was originally built in 1861 by the British Empire and was called the Victoria Gardens back then. It was renamed post-independence and is now affectionately called Rani Bagh by Mumbaikars. The zoo is now under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation which was donated to the then called city of Bombay by Mr. David Sassoon, the same Jewish businessman who also developed other heritage structures like the David Sassoon library, Victoria and Albert museum and the beautiful Victoria tower clock which is right inside the udyan.
Animals and Birds
Spread over 48 acres, the zoo hosts around 180 mammals, 500 birds and nearly 40 reptiles. It is also lined up with nearly 3000 species of trees, many of which are rare (like the clumping bamboo). The animals housed in the zoo include crocodiles, Sambhar deer, Chital, Black Bucks and snakes. There are also relatively lesser known animals like the Indian striped Hyena, dholes and hippopotamus. The zoos aviary hosts a wide variety of birds including flamingoes, peacocks and the ultra-rare albino crows.
Image by Pixabay
The zoo also had tigers till 2005, after which they were moved to other zoos and national parks. The lone lioness at the zoo, Jimmy, died in 2014. Other star attractions at the Jijamata Udyan in Mumbai are the gentle giants Anarkali and Laxmi the two female Asiatic elephants.
One thing that sets the zoo apart from the rest is its taxidermy collection which consists of stuffed, scale models of animals that look life-like.
Dr. Bhau Daji Lad museum
Like most zoos, Jijamata Udyan too has its own museum in the form of Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum which was established in 1855 and located within the zoos premises. The museum contains a large collection of archaeological artefacts and antiques from the Victorian era and manuscripts of historical importance. The entry fee is separate for the museum.
While outside eatables are strictly prohibited in Mumbais Jijamata Udyan there are quite a few options nearby that are worth checking out:
King of Iran, Mughlai and North Indian cuisine: Rs. 500/-
Regal Restaurant, Fast Food: Rs. 300/-
Byculla Restaurant, Fast Food: Rs. 300/-
The main image for this article is sourced from Wikimedia. Image by Mayurhulsar/ CC BY-SA 3.0