Buried deep in the bazaars of Bhuleshwar, in south Mumbai, there's an unexpected treasure -- a two acre shelter that looks after hundreds of cows, as well as other rescued stray animals and birds.
It's well off the beaten track and and despite living in Mumbai for many years, I never knew about it. However, after seeing it mentioned in Fiona Caulfield's Love Mumbai Guide, I decided it include it on the sightseeing itinerary for a friend who was visiting me.
The entrance to Bombay Panjrapole is down a lane surrounded by shops selling saris and other fabric. It's easy to miss (and indeed we did initially miss it). You could spend the day shopping in the area and never come across it! Inside, there is such peace, it feels more like being in the country rather than one of the most crowded cities in India.
Interestingly, Bombay Panjrapole was established way back in 1834 by a couple of businessmen to look after stray dogs and pigs, which the British had ordered to be shot at night. The cows, which were brought in to produce milk to feed the strays, were secondary. However, over time, they've multiplied and become the main attraction. And, they are totally adorable! The baby ones, with their gigantic floppy ears, reminded me of dogs rather than calves. They clambered for attention and were keen to be hand fed.
If you've got small children, they'll especially love Bombay Panjrapole.
It's also grown to have special religious significance for Hindus, who believe it's auspicious to feed cows.
Despite there being plenty of food around, some of the young calves looked quite skinny though. Perhaps they'd been ill. Numerous signs stated that food from outside was prohibited, as the animals were falling sick due to excessive feeding.
(You can buy grass to feed them there).
Bombay Panjrapole is located in Panjrapole Compound on Panjarapole Road in Bhuleshwar. It's open daily from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.