SANJAY GANDHI NATIONAL PARK (SGNP)
Attractions Within The Park: The Kanheri Caves, Lion Safari, Tiger Safari, The gardens, And Trekking
Nearby Attractions: Gateway of India, Prince of Wales Museum, Elephanta Caves
Best Time To Visit: Throughout the Year
Sanjay Gandhi National Park, better known as "Borivali
National Park" is set in hill ranges around the suburb of Borivali in
Mumbai. Notified in 1974, it offers a pleasant change from the usual
sights and attractions of the big city. It is hence common to see the park
teeming with school picnics, college picnics and other organized
The undulating green lands of the Borivili National Park are just the kind of surroundings to which one would love to retreat for some moments of quiet introspection or meditation. The great panoramic views of hills, valleys, lakes and open expanses can actually have a therapeutic effect on mind, body and soul. Rising from an elevation less than about 30m above mean sea level, the terrain park culminates in a series of peaks dispersed throughout the park - the highest, near the Kanheri Caves, being 468m.
A Natural Wonder Of Wilderness
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is unique because it can be visited all round
the year. In the hot, dry summer months the jungle is a riot of colour as
Goolmohar known as "The flame of the forest" and the flowering
silk cotton give the otherwise harsh brown forest a crimson blush.
Borivali in the rains has a charm of its own. The entire forest is a carpet of green and streams, swollen with rainwater tumble and meander down the slopes. The rains automatically draw trekkers, bird watchers and nature lovers of all ages to this verdant paradise. Visitors to Mumbai are rather surprised to see that there are 104-sq-km of virgin forest within its borders, just waiting to be explored.
The recreational area of this park includes the Kanheri Caves, the Tulsi and Vihar Lakes, the Lion Safari, the Deer Park, the Samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi and the gardens.
park is a tree lover's delight at all times of the year, with every
changing season offering up its own distinctive beauty. The forest cover
in the park can be divided into two main categories i.e. South Indian
moist deciduous and semi-evergreen.
These two types can be further classified into four subcategories and they are moist teak-bearing forest, mangrove scrub, southern moist mixed deciduous forest, and western subtropical hill forest.
The region has good biodiversity and major trees and plants include Kadamba, Teak, Karanj, Shisam, and species of Acacia, Ziziphus, Euphorbia, Flame Of The Forest, Red Silk Cotton and many more varieties of flowers. During the monsoon, almost the entire park is awash with the rainbow hues of the flowers that bloom here and all over the Western Ghats.
Among the many breathtaking sights, a sight not to be missed is the seven-yearly mass flowering of the "Strobilanthes" (Karvi). A distinctive feature of the Western Ghats and of the park is that tourists can watch thousands and thousands of these wonderful flowers covering the hilltops, bathing the landscape in a magical purple.
park is known to shelter wildlife right from the time urbanization began
in Mumbai. One can have encounters with several species including Spotted
Deer, Black Naped Hare, Barking Deer, Porcupine, Palm Civet, Mouse Deer,
Rhesus Macaque, Bounet Macaque, Hanuman Langur, Indian Flying Fox, and
One is surprised by the density of leopards in this park despite its nearness to an urban settlement. One can also encounter here a Hyena or four horned antelope.
The reptilian world has 38 species to show off. Tourists can see crocodiles in the Tulsi Lake, and Pythons, Cobras, Monitor Lizards, Russell's Viper, Bamboo Pit Viper and Ceylonese Cat Snake here.
The invertebrate world has a wide representation - Crabs, Spiders and Insects of all kinds thrive within the green glades of the park. The Giant Wood Spider, Signature Spiders, Black Wood Spiders with their large net-like webs in monsoon is a fascinating treat.
Last, but certainly not the least, are the 150 species of beautiful winged creatures that represent the amazing butterfly world.
The National Park is known as a real Bird Watcher's Paradise. The park is the nesting ground for 274 kinds of birds - that's almost a quarter of all bird species found in India. The park has a large number of bird species like Jungle owlets, Golden orioles, Racket-tailed drongos, Minivets, Magpies, Robins, Hornbills, Bulbuls, Sunbirds, Peacock, and Woodpeckers. At many times, migratory and resident birds like Paradise flycatcher, Kingfisher, Mynas, Swifts, Gulls, Egrets, and Herons have also been seen here.
ATTRACTIONS AT THE PARK
Archeologically speaking, the Kanheri Caves located well within the park area is a major point of interest, presenting an accessible and interesting glimpse of the history and culture of Buddhist India. 109 Buddhist caves are situated in the central part of the park and are evidence of the existence of monastic settlements in 2nd to 9th century AD.
A pleasing area of approximately 5.5-sq-km has been reserved, as a recreational zone inside the park, to cater to the educational and recreational needs of tourists. Amongst the several attractions of the Krishnagiri Upavan, the Lion Safari is the most famous. The 12-hectare Lion Safari Park with crisscrossing roads offers tourists a face-to-face rendezvous with the king of beast from within the safety of special buses. Another more recent attraction of the park is the new Tiger Safari spread over a 20-hectare area in the recreational zone. Here, you have the opportunity not just to see, but get a better understanding of the tiger species, including the white tiger.
Though there is a sustainable population of crocodiles as part of the park's aquatic world, it is very difficult to spot them. For easy sighting of these animals, there is a crocodile park where one can view these reptiles of different sizes all at one place.
Then of course, there's the Vanrani, the mini train, which is a favourite with young visitors. The fun train ride of about 15 minutes takes you along the foothills of the Gandhi Memorial, traverses a couple of bridges and tunnels and passes over the Deer Park. Besides, one can also visit the Gandhi Smarak, indulge in some boating in the lotus filled lake, or enjoy the gardens and children's park.
For the hiker there are various trails that beckon the interested. The most popular is the 'Ashok Van' trail that winds up through thick forest to a dense cluster of Ashoka trees that are a welcome break half way up even in summer. One could return by "Gaumukh" to an open place of volcanic rock to return to the Kanheri caves. Or the more ambitious could try the 'View Point' option, the highest point in Mumbai, for a view of the three lakes of the city - Tulsi, Vihar and Powai.
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a part of Greater Mumbai and Mumbai is one of the largest metropolises in the world. The main highlights of the city are the Gateway of India, Prince of Wales Museum, Elephanta Island, Flora Fountain, Haji Ali's Tomb, Kamla Nehru Park, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Nehru Planetarium, Nehru Science Centre, and Marine Drive.
FOR MORE TOURIST INFORMATION
Time to Visit: The Park is unique in its nature and each season has
its own charm, making it difficult to pick a particular time as the best.
For sheer enjoyment of the greenery, wilderness and the many tiny
waterfalls and streams, the monsoon is the best time. For bird watching
and general viewing along with climbs at Kanheri Hills, November to
February is ideal, when the weather is cooler and the air crisper.
However, if one is interested in some serious mammal tracking, April-May seems the best bet, when water supply is limited and visibility is the greatest as the animals come out to cool off at the watering holes.
Sanctuary Timings: 9.00 am to 5.30 pm
Safari Timings: Morning session: 9.00 am to 1.00 pm Evening session: 2.20 pm to 5.20 pm The lion and Tiger Safari are closed on Mondays. Trains are available at an interval of 20 minutes.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is Santa Cruz at a
distance of 16-km for domestic air travel. This airport is connected to
almost all the major Indian cities with regular flights. The nearest
international airport is Sahar at a distance of around 20-km from the
Rail: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) at a distance of 40-km is the nearest railway hub connected to almost all the parts of India by regular trains. Borivali Station is the nearest railway station connected to Mumbai CST and Mumbai Central Railway terminuses.
Road: The Park is connected to all parts of Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra with very good road connections. Buses ply on Sunday's and holiday's from Mumbai to the Park. Chartered vehicles are available to the park on all days from Mumbai.
WHERE TO STAY
Four rest houses and two camp sheds are available within the park area for the visitors to reside. One can contact the wildlife authorities for bookings.