"They said Navi Mumbai wasn't Mumbai and yes, they were so true! Navi Mumbai is planned, it might not be the city of dreams but is surely the dream city.
I've lived for about 6 years in a place called Kharghar,in the Raigarh district of Navi Mumbai. I believe as every Navi Mumbaikar does that there is no comparison between the new and old city. While you have to pass the limelight that the main town brings, you get to slow down and satiate your eyes in the beauty that this part of the city is all about.
I've tried to explore on and off a lot of this city. What it brought to my palette was everything from gushing waterfalls, to quiet long walks on the wide roads overlooking distant plateaus. From small creeks to valley parks. It's a city with the best of both both worlds, of nature and hustle of people. It scorches you in every way that Mumbai does but soothes you with all it's beauty.
In monsoon the caterpillar grows beautifully into a butterfly. The city is surrounded by hills which have streams and waterfalls flowing from all over.
The best offbeat haunts in Navi Mumbai:
Palm Beach Road : I remember when I first enetered the city I instantly fell in love with this road. The connecting road between Vashi and Belapur,it is vast stretch of road surrounded by some of the tallest residential complexes in Navi Mumbai on one side and never-ending stretches of Mangroves on the other side. While it is infamous for a lot of overspeeding accidents, but the sole pleasure of driving on this road is incomparable. And even better if you are pillion driver, since you get to sway away with the winds and breathe in view from each side.
Belapur-Uran Bridge : Uran being an industrial area is well of no swell purpose to us, though the bridge connecting C.B.D to Uran is. Watching the sun set and the lights fade away from the secluded bridge, enjoying the comforting silence with friends is one of the most beautiful memory that still remains etched in my heart.
Central Park +Golf course Road,Kharghar : Walk/drive from Utsav Chowk till Central Park is amazing. An evening bike to this area transports you to a different place altogether. The buildings cease to exist giving way to acres of green- the park, golf course and the hills going on forever.
Tip: Take the turn into the road saying "Driving Range" it's newly made and takes you to the backside of the golf course,which is a narrow ascending road that dissappears into the hills.
Kharghar Hills/Parsik Hill : Heaven for all those who love to rise above the daily humdrum of our quagmired lives. You reach the top in ten minutes and see the city from a birds eye view, the city with all it's tiny bridges, crawling roads and sea shores. In monsoons the Kharghar Hills get closed due to landsliding, the Parsik Hill is forever open. They've been times we've just gotten out to hike through the hills instead of killing time at home.
Gadheshwar Dam, Panvel : A beautiful deserted picninc spot. The dam provides water to the city of Panvel.I went there on a bike -ride with a friend.The winding roads passed through many a small villages and the cool evening wind made sure to please the senses.The dam was shut and the water was still and quiet .A mile before, army men had posted there camps near the lake.
Gavanphata, Old Uran Road : This road leads you to the J.N.P.T (Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust). A drive to this area during monsoons is refreshingly pleasant. Take a fork in the road to the road not taken and stand by to soak the beauty of it all.
Valley Park, Belapur : I used to go out for lone-walks here. This is the place for people who would want to tread across a hill rather than a trek. The road winds through, overlooking a tiny valley. You can do a lot of bird watching here and find a few tiny gurgling streams during monsoons. Works wonders as a quick getaway from the madness of your day!
Pandavkada Waterfalls,Kharghar : Don't drift away with the flow of the water here which becomes dangerously treacherous during Monsoon. The trek to the falls is really nice and the waterfall is at a stone's throw from the Golf Course.(On the road to Central Park,Kharghar).
So many places to just disconnect from the mad-rush of our lives, that's why I fell love in with this city. Living on the 16th floor I could view the the artsy Kharghar Station filled up to the brim with tiny toy cars and bikes, paving way to the twisting and turning river on its backside backed by the splendid amount of green cover. In contrast to this there's the forever busy Mumbai-Pune Highway which is a sight to see at some lost rainy nights. When the lights burn out and you just see the water splashing from tyres illuminated by the beams of headlights.
I've shifted back to Delhi for the time being, but Navi Mumbai would always be a part of me.