Jawahar Bal Bhavan – perfect for kids
Jawahar Bal Bhavan situated in Cubbon Park is aptly a jewel (Jawahar) for citizens of Bangalore. It is a perfect place to unwind and spend time with your kids. Boasting of a variety of slides and swings in addition to large open areas for children to run around, Jawahar Bal Bhavan has so much to offer. And its highlight is its Putani Express – toy train which kids thoroughly enjoy. And that’s what we did. I spent our entire day with my 18 months old daughter while mommy was slogging at office. It was perfect Father’s day outing for me creating precious memories for lifetime.
About Jawahar Bal Bhavan
Jawahar Bal Bhawan is imaginatively planned amusement park created for children at the Cubbon Park maintained by the Government of Karnataka. The park was inaugurated in the 1967 by then Chief Minister of Karnataka – Veerendra Patil. It is named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was fond of children. To promote all-round development of children, by providing various programs and implementing them, Government of India constituted the Bal Bhavan Society in 1985. Jawahar Bal Bhavan was constituted into this society since then.
Bal Bhavan is functioning in a portion of Cubbon Park with an area of 12.5 acres. Bal Bhavan has hundreds of trees, playgrounds,slides and swings and a toy train, a theatre and areas allocated for birthday parties and cultural events. Children can also visit the doll’s museum which has an interesting collection of dolls and toys from all over the world. There are few distributed parks which have swings, horse rides and tree houses. To trigger the enquiring mind there is a 20 million year old tree, a gift from the Geological Survey of India. The Vijayaranga Theatre screens children’s films and stages plays. Craft and hobby classes for children are also conducted in Bal Bhavan. An added attraction is the Government Aquarium located nearby.
Recently, Tata Council for Community Initiatives (TCCI) in association with the Government of Karnataka renovated the Bal Bhavan mapping the 12-acre area, and then breaking it into different activity areas. Architects and designers have come up with signage that looks like foliage, litter bins with dry leaf motifs, and lamp-posts that resemble trees. There are open pavilions or activity huts with teracotta roofs, all arranged in a crescent.
And there’s the lovely fort in stone. This is no imposing structure, but a friendly fort you would like to run up and down the steps of, and hide in the turrets. In front is a life-size chessboard, and children can actually take on roles of chess pieces like pawns, and kings and queens. Alongside are similar life-size hopscotch and noughts and crosses in stone.
How we spent our time
We reached the park at around 11 am. It was good sunny day but it wasn’t hot with pleasant breeze. After entering, we passed through an arched over-bridge for toy train. Then as we entered fort area, we saw paintings of animals along the barricade for dragon train ride which makes lot of noise. It distracted my daughter but then she got busy admiring the dancing stage. Then we climbed to the fort with my daughter enjoying view of animal paintings. We spent rest of our time in kids’ playing area indulging in swings, slides, merry-go-round and many more. Then we headed to the toy-train station. Overall, we really enjoyed our time at the parks, but I thought the playing area do need some maintenance. Still, it is a great place to spend time with kids.
The highlight of our visit was definitiely taking toy-train ride with my daughter. The seats are comfy to accomodate two persons per seat and probably one kid. Once you are comfortably seated, make sure to lock the door. The train takes one complete round in about 10 mins along the park boundary. There is also a mini-tunnel you pass through. It is lot of fun as kids shout aloud inside the tunnel and touch every tree their hand can get at. There are also really old bamboo trees that you pass through. It makes you feel you are passing through a jungle. But then you are out of woods and can see smiling kids on swings. The train blows whistle for one final time before making it a full stop. All through the ride, we were clapping, crying out loud in excitement. The toy train really made a memorable day for me and my daughter.
Nostalgia for Bangaloreans
For many Bangaloreans, Putani Express is childhood memory – for both parents and their grown-up kids. For example, the first Putani Express train had around five coaches, all of them with no roof! And in the park, there were balloon sellers, popcorn, ice cream and cotton candy stalls which are no longer allowed in the park now.
Adjacent to the play area is the Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Victory Hall, named after the former Mysore Maharaja. It was built in 1945 by German architect Otto Koenigsberger, known for his green architecture. Initially built as a home for World War II soldiers, it was turned into a theatre after Independence. In its heydays, the hall used to be a hotspot for film screenings and extra-curricular activities for schoolchildren. Old Bengalureans have fond memories of watching movies ranging from Tom and Jerry , Mickey Mouse and Phantom to Cinderella, Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy for as low as 50 paise on Sunday mornings.
In the 70s and 80s, it was also a popular spot for shooting movies.
Jawahar Bal Bhavan Park Timings
Timings: 10 am to 6:30 pm (Closed on Mondays)
Entrance Fees: Rs. 20 for adults
Suggested duration: 2-3 hours
How to Reach Jawahar Bal Bhavan
Nearest Metro Station: Cubbon Park