Mumbai is the inebriating blend of typical Indian extremes. Besides the big 'Bollywood' factor, Mumbai has loads of other attractions. One of the major tourist attractions is the forests of the city; that is the parks and sanctuaries. Sanjay Gandhi national park, also known as the Borivali national park is one of the important national parks in the state. This park enjoys the privilege of being the only national park in the city and the largest urban park in the world.
The name of the park is derived from the great Indian politician Sanjay Gandhi, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family. He was the son of the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and politician Feroze Gandhi. As it is situated in hill ranges around the suburb of Borivali, it is also known as Borivali national park.
It was notified as a national park in 1974. It features a long written history that dates back to the fourth century BC. A considerable part of this forest was the land route between Soapara and Kalyan, the two ports of ancient India.
The park was known as Krishnagiri national park in the pre-independent period. The area of the park was only 20.26 sq. km which was expanded to its present size in 1969. In 1974 and later 1981, the park were renamed as Borivali national park and Sanjay Gandhi national park respectively.
Area and location:
The park is situated in Borivali at a distance of 40 km north from Mumbai in the western part of India. It stands at an altitude ranging from 30 to 480 meters above the sea level. Covering an area of 104 sq km., it extends from the latitude 190°21' in the North to the longitude 720°58' in the East.
Flora and Fauna:
Bustling forests, rivers and lush greeneries make the park a chosen destination of masses. You will be surprised to know that the park houses 5,000 species of insects, 284 kinds of birds, 62 reptiles, 36 types of mammals, 800 types of flowering plants and 150 species of butterflies. Atlas Moth, world's largest moth was discovered here.
Fauna: The wild animals living here are Rhesus Macaque, Four-Horned Antelope, Bonnet Macaque, Chital, Black Naped or Indian Hare, Porcupine, Asian Palm Civet, Indian Flying-fox, Chevrotain, Muntjac (Barking Deer), Hanuman or Gray Langur, Sambar Deer, Leopard, hyena, etc.
Pythons, Cobras, Monitor Lizards, Russell's Vipers, Bamboo, Ceylonese Cat Snakes, Crocodiles, etc. are the commonly found reptiles. The Bright Jezebels and Large Yellow and White Orange tips, Blue Mormon, Blue Oak leaf, Egg flies, Monarchs and Sailers are the beautiful butterflies.
Bird watching can be your favorite pastime here. Residential and migratory birds such as Egrets, Peacock, Mynas, Drongos, Kingfisher, Gulls, Paradise Flycatcher, Herons, Jungle Owlets, Swifts, Racket-Tailed Drongos, Golden Orioles, Magpies, Minivets, Robins, Hornbills, Woodpeckers, Bulbuls, Sunbirds, etc. heighten the beauty of the region.
Flora: The floral diversity will also mesmerize you. Kadamba, Teak, Karanj, Shisam, and species of Acacia, Ziziphus, Euphorbia, Red Silk Cotton dominate the floral variety of the area. Mangrove scrub, southern moist mixed deciduous forest, teak-bearing forest and western subtropical hill forest- these are the four types of vegetation in the forest area.
What remains to be the main attraction here is the 'Karvi' or 'Karvy' shrub that blooms only once in eight years in a mass flowering state.
Where to stay?
You can accommodate in any of the two camp sheds and four rest houses within the park area.
When to visit?
November to March remains the best time to visit the sanctuary. The climate remains somewhat pleasant during winter.
Santa Cruz is the nearest airport that is at a distance of 16 km from domestic air travel. Sahar is the nearest international airport.
Mumbai CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at a distance of 40 km is the nearest railway hub. Borivali station is the nearest railhead that is connected to CST.
The park is well connected to various areas of the state by bus. Regular buses ply on Sundays from Mumbai to the park.
Some extra dose:
Vanrani Narrow Gauge Train, the toy train, Tiger safari and Lion safari, Jain temple, Kanheri caves, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial are the main attractions in and around the park.
Sanjay Gandhi national park has also been subject to conflicts between animal and human interests. Today the national park is visited by more than 2 million visitors every year. It is also one of the most visited parks in the world.