Last Thursday my daughter had a holiday from school for Khordad Sal (birth anniversary of Zoroaster) and I took some of her friends to the Byculla Zoo. There were 8 of us – 5 six year olds, 1 grandmother and 2 mothers. It was a really hot day and my daughter warned everyone – it’s going to be a squash and a squeeze in the car, which it was. The monsoon is definitely over. But the zoo has glorious trees so it was actually quite pleasant and very green. The Byculla Zoo or the Jijamata Udyaan is in the grounds which belonged to the Jewish businessman David Sassoon. He built the Victoria and Albert Museum (now called the Bhau Daji Lad Museum) and laid out the Victoria Gardens or Rani Bagh next to it in 1861. He also built a clock tower, the Victoria Tower, at the entrance, which still exists though the clock doesn’t work anymore.
Bhau Daji Lad or the Victoria and Albert Museum
1. Statue of King Edward VII or the Kala Ghoda Statue 2. Stone elephant from Elephanta Island
The original Kala Ghoda statue, a blackened bronze equestrian statue of King Edward VII, which was in the Kala Ghoda area in the Fort, was moved into the grounds of the zoo after Indian Independence in 1947. Outside the gates of the zoo, next to the museum, is a large stone elephant, which was originally on the Elephanta Island or Gharapuri. The islands were given this name by the Portugese because of this statue.
1. Baobab Tree at the entrance 2. Bats in the Rain Trees 3. Banyan Tree 4. Canon Ball Tree
The zoo has a wonderful collection of trees. The ones I recognized were the 2 Baobabs at the entrance, some Banyans, Rain Trees and a Canon Ball Tree but there lots more so I need to go back with a book on trees.
My favourite building in the zoo is the wooden Victorian Conservatory. It won a heritage award some years ago but desperately needs restoration. The lattice wood work is broken and the painted tile work flooring is fading. Its such a lovely structure and its sad seeing it like this.
1. Deer 2. Sleepy Lioness 3. Sleepy Alligator 4. Elephants
Zoos are sad places and this one is pretty depressing, though the kids enjoyed themselves. There aren’t a lot of animals but we saw 2 elephants, a sleepy lioness, 2 alligators, 2 sad emus and lots of deer. The part the children loved the most was the bird enclosure with Pelicans, a Crowned Crane, Sarus Cranes, Painted Storks, Black Necked Cranes and Egrets
We had a little picnic in the car park. My daughter and I had made tiny cupcakes from a Nigella Lawson recipe. Delicious! (and super buttery). We took cheese sandwiches, cupcakes, apple juice and I hate to admit it but a little packet of crisps for each of them.
adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Cupcake recipe-
1 Cup Plain Flour
1 ½ Teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Caster sugar
1 Cup Unsalted Butter softened
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Essence
2 Tablespoon Milk
Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius and line the tin with the muffin cases.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar in another bowl, beat in the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour.
Then add the vanilla essence and fold in the rest of the flour.
Put in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top.
Veer Jijamata Bhosale Udyan
Dr Ambedkar Road
+91 22 23725799