THROUGH THE YEARS
From a lunar pit to a people's park, trace the story of Priyadarshini Park & Sports Complex through over 4 decades.
PDP was a park built on reclaimed land. The Stone Cutter you see in the photo was used during the reclamation and was too heavy to be taken away. So it remained on site. Over the years it became an enduring symbol of the decades of struggle the park has witnessed.
A People's Movement begins
The Government of Maharashtra proposed to reclaim 100 acres of land and convert Malabar Hill into another Nariman Point. This project was opposed by a People's Movement, spearheaded by the Save Mumbai Committee and Save Breach Candy Committee and leaders like Shri Rajani Patel, Shri R K Karnjia, Shri Kishan Mehta, Shri Ajit Kamlani, Dr R H Dastur, Shri Murli Deora, Dr L H Hiranandani and Shri B A Desai. The movement was successful and the reclamation was stopped.
In the meantime, substantial land was reclaimed both at Nepean Sea Road and Bhulabhai Desai Road. At the insistence of the MLA BA Desai and Vinod Chandra Shah, the said land was handed over to BMC. The Government then reserved it from builders. There was also a Government resolution to stop the reclamation and for the reclaimed land to be allotted to the Municipality for a playground, park and sports facilities.
A place for nature, a centre for sport
One battle was soon replaced by another as several builders began eyeing the substantial reclaimed land as a golden opportunity to build skyscrapers. In an effort to protect this land from newly-sprouting nefarious activities, BMC and Malabar Hill Citizens' Forum arrived at an agreement to develop 65,000 sq. mts of land which was initially handed over in a condition worse than a lunar pit.
The 1987 agreement: the land was developed and made level – at an astounding Rs. 22 Lac. Shri Tara Malkani who was a State Athletics Champion and the VP of Malabar Hill Citizen Club suggested that Priyadarshini Park should begin building a Sports Complex as per Government of India scheme.
The record partnership: the BMC and MCH worked hand-in-hand to make the Sports Complex a reality. Municipal Commissioners JJ Kanga, SS Tinikar, VT Jari (and a few more) played instrumental roles in developing it.
The project received active support from Shri Tara Malkani, Shri Adil Sumariwala (National Athletics Champion), Balsam Sports, Sports Dept Secretary Mr. Menon with the permission of Central Govt. sanctioned the Sports Complex.
Priyadarshini Park had grown in to a beautiful sporting destination by the Arabian sea. Greens, sea, sky and sport! What more could one ask for?
More than a park, a way of life
In December 1990, the Sports Complex was inaugurated by Chhagan Bhujbal. Over the next few years, the entire infrastructure including a synthetic track, tennis courts, changings rooms, a viewing gallery and more was completed.
The Fitness Centre, Tennis Court, Yoga & Aerobics section – all started out in the year 1994. Over the decade, pre-Olympic tournaments like relays became the norm. Competent coaches lifted the fitness quotient of the park to a never-before level.
Moving beyond sport, Priyadarshini Park grew to become a community and youth centre. Slowly but steadily, it became a place for the people, a way of life. And a kind of philosophy evolved:
“Priyadarshini Park is not a formal garden.
It is a park with a rural ambience.
It blends sports with nature, including sea.
It is an effort to feel calm and feel the presence
of God, through nature.”
Growing greener, feeling younger
Priyadarshini Park witnessed many proud new additions:
- A Protection Wall, a Manmade Beach, Priya Point and many new coconut & badam trees – building up to a Ruksha Vatika (Conglomeration of trees).
- We succeeded in making an all-weather walking soil track. This was made resisting all efforts to convert this into a hard surface walking track.
- A Children’s Park was built and is being maintained with support of MP Arvind Sawant.
Striding into the future
Sea Walk: Our latest, most exciting development is, permission for the development of a Sea Walk from PDP to Amarsons Park in Breach Candy.
Sports Excellence: A Children's Park, a Basketball Court and Futsal are ongoing developments. The park also includes facilities for ages 5 years and above.
As Priyadarshini Park grows from strength to strength, it continues to inspire the support of countless citizens. Powered by the people, the park aims to become more than ever – a place blossoming with culture, creativity and community.