Considered to be an extremely popular “landmark” in the city of Mumbai is the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). Located in the suburb of Borivali this national park covers an area that measures approximately 104 square kilometer. Furthermore, it is also considered to be one of the “most frequently visited park” in the world. And, so here is presenting a few facts to explain why SGNP is a renowned tourist hotspot in a city that is said to never sleep.
a. The “Historical” background of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
The existence of this national park is said to date all the way back to the 4th century BC. Apparently, during this period trade between the city of Mumbai and dynasties belonging to Greece and Mesopotamia occurred from two ports named Sopara and Kalyan. It was in between these two ports that a forest was eventually converted into national park. It was also in between the 1st and the 9th century BC that the Kanheri Caves was sculpted by Buddhist monks in the center of this park. These caves were basically constructed using basaltic rock. It was eventually in the mid 20th century that the Bombay Municipal Corporation added the catchment areas of the lakes Tulsi and Vihar along with the Aarey Milk Colony land to this national park. Furthermore, on June 22nd 1980 the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra Limited allotted about 2076.07 acres of land to the national park from the Aarey Milk Colony. This national park was then further expanded by 82.25 square km in the year 1981. In addition, this park was renamed after Sanjay, the younger son of former Prime Minister of the country Indira Gandhi in 1996.
b. The “Flora and Fauna” of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
“Endangered and exotic flora and fauna species” is what this national park is renowned for, and is flocked by tourists in large numbers annually. Apparently, this park is home to approximately 1000 plant species, 250 migratory, land, and water bird species, 50,000 inspect species, and 40 mammal species. In terms of flora, trees such as kadamba, teak, karanj, and flowering plant species such as Karvi can be seen in this national park. On the other the fauna available here include animals such as chital, rheus macaque, bonnet macaque, Indian flying fox, grey langur etc. Birds such as jungle owlets, minivets, magpies, peacock, woodpeckers etc can also be seen over here.
c. The “Kanheri” Caves in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
A group of “Buddhist” caves known as Kanheri (which when translated means black mountain) is located within the premise of this park, and is frequently visited by tourists. Constructed using basalt rocks in between the 1st and the 10th century these caves basically comprise of Buddhist sculptures, paintings, and inscriptions. Furthermore, there are in total 109 caves each consisting of a stone plinth that serve as a bed. In addition, these caves also comprise of a hall supported by strong pillars and contain a “stupa” i.e. Buddhist shrine. These caves were built mainly for living, meditating, and studying purposes.
d. The “Tiger and Lion” safari in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
Considered to be “major attractions” in this park are the “Tiger and Lion” safari. These rides basically are a 20 minute drive undertaken using a bus around 29.65 acres of the national park (known to be home to tigers and lions) which is fenced. Apparently, this park comprises of 25 lions and lionesses. However, this safari (ride in a bus) allows one to actually see only two lions moving freely. In addition, four tigers kept behind a fence can viewed from the bus.
e. How to reach the Sanjay Gandhi National Park?
The nearest railway station to this national park is located in Borivali. From Borivali station there are rickshaws and taxis available, which you can hire to reach this park. Although, there are no direct buses to this park, a few BEST buses from various parts of city connecting to Borivali are available.
f. Things to do at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park:
There are several decent restaurants available outside the premise of this park worth visiting. They include: Greens Veg Restaurant, Cascade, Bay View Restaurant and Aura Restaurant. Furthermore, vendors selling items such as nuts, juices, cotton candies, freshly baked crisps and the local Chaats can also be seen outside the complex of this park.
So, if you intend to spend some quality time in the presence of “plant and animal kingdom” in the city of Mumbai, then the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is the ideal spot to visit.