Wow, who would have thought of ever getting to visit a place that has all things Bollywood outside of Mumbai! Well, this is Dubai, anything and everything is possible here.
The Bollywood Park is the first of its kind, a new addition to the list of theme parks that opened last month to the public. It is one of the three theme parks of the Dubai parks and Resorts. On 2nd December the UAE celebrates it’s National day, this year it was the 45th. The day is declared a national holiday and a lot of events and activities are scheduled/planned at this time. The Malls too offer some discounts as part of the celebration. This park too had a special ticket rate offered, but it was sold out fast and we did meet few visitors inside the park who had to purchase the normal rate tickets for entry to the park. As it was a long weekend for us here in the UAE, it was a good time for family outings and friends meet ups, and a crowded park with long waiting queues 🙂 . The attractions to the park are the huge film sets and movie hoardings and banners, the cafes and retail shops apart from the different stages and the big and grand Theater.
The Attractions to the park include: Don: The chase, Lagaan: Champaner Cricket Carnival, Sholay: The hunt for Gabbar Singh, Dabangg: Stunt Spectacular show, Krrish: Hero’s Flight, RA.One: Unleashed, CinemaMagic featuring: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Crossroads stage, Mumbai express stage, Rangmanch stage, Stars on step stage, Cinema Circle stage, and the grand Rajmahal Theater.
The parks open around noon, and by the time we could park and wade our way through the large gathered crowds it was almost an hour past. Even though I have grown up viewing Bollywood movies and seen the movie locations in Mumbai, the moment one enters the park one is awe-struck with the grandeur and magnificence of the sets, the set ups, the buildings, the movie star hoardings, the director’s camera & chair square, the structure of hands with different mudras, the Indian train Bogey that is placed and transformed into a cafe, the Jambo cafe at the Linking road marked inside the park, Bollywood film studios, the hand rickshaw outside the Lagaan set, the well, water tank and famous Tonga cart outside the Sholay set, the huge ammunition boxes and Jeep outside the Dabangg sets, it was all very exciting and fun to move around from one set to another. This park is the place for those who like things Bollywood, may not be too exciting for those who expect lot of different rides and attractions.
After grabbing a light snack at the Victoria cafe and sitting inside the AC train compartment that was the sitting area of the cafe, we started exploring each sets and that was the start of my test of patience, waiting in the long queues for the rides in the park. There are simulation rides, stunt shows, music and dance shows, and dancers performing at the different stages, and an absolutely thrilling and must watch Broadway style Bollywood musical Jaan-e-Jigar show that is being premiered tomorrow 9th December at the Rajmahal Theater, we were shown a 20 minute sneak peak. Loved all parts of this preview shown, the opulent set, the wonderfully choreographed dances , the drama and costumes, a truly magical experience.
My patience wore out while standing in queue to see the Krrish a Hero’s flight. As I have seen some amazing theme parks and this rather long line wait, a roomful of people in long queues going along the rows and rows that were inside the hall, and had to pass three such rooms to finally reach the hall to enjoy the ride. Having stood in line for more than an hour it was senseless to leave midway, so we followed the queue. This was the time to glimpse human nature, elderly, young as well as kids and toddlers to teens all where inside the hall in line standing and patiently or some impatiently waiting for their turn. The total wait stretched to nearly three hours and by then we had made up our mind that this would be our last visit ever to any theme or amusement park. But after the ride all had already forgotten the irritation before entering the room. Well, these parks are designed in such way that no matter what age you are, one gets a good experience and sure has some fun time in the daily hectic life routines, so after the ride I did feel better and we finally did see and do most of the park rides. It was already dark by the time we walked out, had entered the hall when it was still a bright and sunny afternoon.
The Lagaan set had good decor, the clay pots, the rickshaw, the woven baskets, the commentary screen with Aamir Khan’s video telling about the Lagaan Thrill of Victory ride, and finally the ride experience.
The Dabangg set had a live stunt show with dancers, hero, heroine, the fight scenes and the blowing up of ammunition that we see in the movies, all in front of our eyes live on the set. The stage artists performed the dance and stunts well.
The cinema magic had the behind-the-scene set up of one of my favorite movie-Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. I liked this section of the park, got to witness and experience the magic of film making. Few visitors were the volunteers who played three scenes from the movie that were shot and later showed to us, we all were part of that small clip. The scenes were shot in the two Stage rooms, and in the final Stage room the music was added and the final clip was shown to us. It was fascinating to understand the amount of hard work, efforts and excellence required to come up with the final movie that we get to see. The Purse shown in the movie ”Bagwati” was also kept on display inside along with few other things related to the movie.
After dark the park had a beautiful ambiance when the lights were switched on, the fountains with colored lights, the palm trees all lit up, the cool winter breeze, the garam masala chai and hot Vada Pavs, the kulfi corners and the other snack corners, and it felt like a perfect evening.
The last part of our day was the 20-minute preview of the Jaan-e-Jigar, a Broadway-style Bollywood Musical in the Rajmahal Theater, a grand structure true to the name that looked like a palace . Entering it I did feel that I have entered a palace kinda place, the majestic feel it had, the mahal wall had a huge elephant painting, very very beautiful. I could just stand and keep gazing at the painting.
It was 10 pm by the time we walked out of the theater, and finally it was time to call it a day. I did stop and clicked couple selfies, couple family pictures and some random shots of the location. We ate Chinese food and then walked out of the park towards our car in the parking lot. My long and tiring day at the Bollywood park ended, the mixed feelings of impatience, irritation and tiredness eventually changed and I ended up enjoying my time and getting lost in the magic of the Bollywood Park.
Bollywood cinema is very popular here and other Nationalities apart from Indians too are seen as part of the Hindi movie audience. This park is definitely a place for those who love everything Bollywood, lot of fun and drama, perfect location to click pictures posing along famous scenes and sets of this Industry.
Living in the UAE we residents are aware of the life during summer time, venturing outdoors is not a good idea with the scorching summer sun with very high temperatures and humidity levels. So, as the weather starts becoming more pleasant after the summer, the outdoor activities, picnics, long drives, camping activities take precedence. Dubai is one awesome place to live. New theme parks and lot other attractions get continuously added to your ‘to visit’ list, one always has a new location or place that is yet not visited. Recently a new theme park IMG world has opened and one more place has got added to our visit list. I first heard of the Al Qudra lakes a year back, almost all the radio stations and local newspapers were talking about this great camping or picnic location. With the daughter having already seen the place and me having seen a couple of her clicked pictures, this was one place that I had been longing to go.
This weekend the Friday went picnicking with friends in Zabeel park and on Saturday an impromptu plan (with my hubby)to take a picnic lunch to Al Qudra happened. Al Qudra lakes are man-made lakes in the middle of the Saih Al Salam desert. It is quiet far from my residence, but if you live in the UAE no distance is far, we enjoy our long drives. If the weather is cooler, then long drives are preferred to enjoy the desert, the lush greens around, the parks, the beaches, and the various places in other Emirates. For us Google maps were handy to reach the place, we follow Al Qudra road till the tar road ends at this roundabout (seen below) and we are at Al Qudra. The picture below was clicked by me seated in the car while we were returning back from the lakes. Al Qudra has a designated cycling track and we see lot of bikers along the way.
At this roundabout if we are coming straight we reach the Al Qudra Bike shop, and a coffee shop too is seen. After this point the tar road ends, the desert is visible all around with the sparse and dusty plantation. We have to take the mud road to reach the lakes. One needs to turn left from the bike shop and drive ahead into the desert, no sign boards were seen as to where the lakes were nor the lake was visible. The coffee shop guy guided us how to reach the lake-‘just follow the cars that are driving into the desert :).
NOTE: Except a few, all pictures are clicked by my husband on his DSLR Camera.
So we did follow a few cars that were ahead of us on the muddy stretch of the desert road that saw many cars driven over and became a distinctly defined road. Through bushes and zigzag drive one finally is brought in front of the vast stretch of water, few cars parked near lone trees that gave shade for families to picnic. We had reached our destination. I could see lot of new plantation, and am sure in coming years this place that looks quiet and deserted would be having a completely changed look. Living in the UAE one is used to the developments taking place around, the efforts of the government to make the place more greener. Lots of trees were seen planted, these would grow up to make it a more green surrounding.
Al Qudra Lake:
As we drove ahead from the start of the lake, we followed the lake and this is were it ended. All the trees lined far away, as seen above in the picture, gave a beautiful necklaced view.
The area is home to many species of birds, we too saw a couple of these beautiful winged beings. I had read an article of Gulf News that stated that it is home to 175 bird species, some of which are endangered and threatened species too.
This place is a perfect spot if one wishes to get lost in the wilderness, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, the traffic woes. Sitting and eating our lunch by the lake side, it was most tranquil moment and the only noise heard was of the birds chirping away. Yes, one is sure disturbed by the dust whenever a vehicle passed by from near, people drove to search the perfect picnic spot for them.
I have always enjoyed being in nature, did go out for bird watching nature walks as a school girl and hence I loved being in this place. The best picture that I liked from the couple that I have clicked is the one below, the bird footprints on the sand. One gets to see human footprint everywhere, but this lakeside sand was full of bird foot marks, rare sight for this city dweller.
We were fortunate to click pictures of a few of the winged beings in the lake waters, most of them were busy catching fish, the lake seemed to be abundant in fishes.
I have used Google to help me identify the names of the birds, not sure if I am correct in identifying all correctly.
After the lunch and strolling around to see the number of different types of birds that we could spot and click pictures, we finally left the place. It was around after 5 pm that we left and it was still light and the sun was yet to set. As there is no street light or electricity in the vicinity it is advisable to leave before it gets dark as there are high chances of getting lost. We were clueless on how to reach the tar road, and after some zigzag driving we spotted another lake that was full of swans and ducks and even black swans. It was indeed an oasis kinda feel, and this place sure was crowded with visitors. I wondered whether this was the actual lake or picnic destination or the one that we had spent time exploring. The lake was too crowded with these birds, I felt it was over crowded in fact! I clicked few pictures in my iPhone, sharing them below.
As seen in above picture, it was almost dusk and in no time the sun would go done so we left this lake and again took the help of Google maps to reach to the tar road(roundabout picture that is seen at the start of this post). We drove a couple minutes and were soon at this roundabout and followed the road home, waddling 🙂 our way through the weekend traffic!
Point to Note: This is a good place if one is seeking the tranquil wilderness of the desert outdoors with the lake water near and birds chirping around. It is good for camping and having a barbecue meal, I think I did see a family doing barbecue as we were driving around the lakeside searching for a shaded place to park and eat lunch. The trees are the only source of shade here in the afternoon, not enough shade if many visitors are visiting. And if one is looking out for a more fun and comfortable picnic spot with electricity and concrete structures around to provide shelter, then this is not the place.
I am hopeful to make another trip soon to see if we are lucky and can spot some more birds at the lake site. Hope you find this post helpful if you are planning a visit to the lake :).