Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Tourism

Tourism      Wildlife      National Parks      Maharashtra     Mumbai    



Sanjay Gandhi National Park

 

Place

:

Borivili, Mumbai district, Maharashtra

Nearest town

:

Borivili (3kms)

Best time to visit

:

October to March

Main attraction

:

Panthers

Timings

 

7.30 am-7.30pm daily

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Formerly known as Borivali National Park, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is located within the city limits of Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra. 

Probably one of Asia's most visited parks (about 2 million visitors annually) it is known for its dense forests, vast bird life, butterflies, and the small population of tigers. The park also encompasses the famous Kanheri Cave complex (between 1st century BC and 9th century AD), two lakes Tulsi and Vihar Lake that provide water to Mumbai city. 

Spreading over an area of 104 sq. km, it has a strong historical background. In the pre independence era, when the Forest Department came into existence, they named the forest area near the two ancient ports of Nala Sopara and Kalyan (dates back to 4th century) as the Krishnagiri National Park and at the time the area was just 20.26 sq.km. And in 1969, the park was expanded to its present size.

 After this, an independent unit of the Forest Department called 'Borivali National Park Sub-division' was created and the Krishnagiri National Park was renamed as 'Borivali National Park'. In 1981, it was once again re-christened as 'Sanjay Gandhi National Park' after Sanjay Gandhi, the son of ex Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, who was killed in an air crash.

The park boasts more than 1000 species of plants, 40 species of mammals, 251 species of birds including migratory and water birds, 38 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibians and a large variety of fish, insects and other life forms. The park comes alive during the monsoon season. 

The vegetation comprises of tropical dry deciduous forest which contains secondary - growth trees such as teak, Khair, Vad, Peepal, Umbar, Neem, Karanj and hundreds of other trees, bushes, creepers and fruit trees like Mango, Jambhul etc. About 1,000 species of flowering plants and species of Acacia, Ziziphus, Euphorbia, Flame of the forest, Red silk cotton are also in the park.

The fauna of the park includes Mongoose, Four-horned antelope, Sambar, Mouse deer, Wild boar, Languor, Monkey, Magar  and the much talked about but rarely sighted big cat like Panthers. Panthers are, in fact, the largest predators that roam this forest and can easily be spotted when the forest water holes dry up in the hot summer months even in the afternoons as they emerge for a drink of water. 

The forest is also rich with bird life, around 251 species of birds, including resident and migratory birds.  Jungle owlets, Golden orioles, Racket-tailed drongos, Quails, Ring fishes, Owls, Parakeets, Hornbills, Woodpeckers, Magpies, Robins, Bee- eaters, Swifts, Gulls, Mynas, Egrets, etc are the prominent ones. The best time to see these birds is during the migratory season (October to April), but thick post monsoon foliage can make it difficult to spot them until around December. 

The Reptile family is represented by Python, Snakes, Russell's viper, Bamboo pit viper and Ceylonese cat snake, Cobras, Monitor lizards and crocodiles. Among the reptiles, crocodiles can be seen in the Tulsi Lake and Vihar Lake. The park also supports a variety of turtles and amphibians. 

A large variety of butterflies and moths also flourish in the park. The butterflies are best seen between August and November.

Apart from the rich natural marvels and sights, there are several other attractions as well. The national park is open daily. Only a part of the Park is open to the public. Entry costs Rs. 4 per person or Rs. 30 per car. 

Inside the park there is also a small zoo, Gandhi Smarak on Pavilion Hill, and a Toy train, Vanrani (Jungle Queen) that runs on a narrow gauge rail line. And 5 km from the northern park entrance lies the Kanheri Caves (Open daily from 9.30 am to 5.30pm) - a 1000 year old marvel of archeology which is accessible from road. On the way is an interesting Jain Temple with three huge carved idols and ideal spots for rock climbers and nature lovers. 

There are facilities for Lion Safari and Tiger Safari in fenced areas 1 km inside the northern park entrance. These safari's which has been drawing people to the park ever since it started is the main attraction in Sanjay Gandhi Park. There are about half a dozen tigers and 25 lions in the respective enclosures and they can be viewed as close as six feet away. Many of these animals were released from zoos or rescued from circuses.

Safari trips in special park vehicles run daily, except Mondays, every 20 minutes between 9 am and 1 pm and between 2.20 am and 5.30pm.The trip lasts for about half an hour. Closed on Tuesdays also, if Monday happens to be a public holiday. Buses are available at an interval of 20 minutes.

Entry to each safari cost Rs.30. 
Child (age between 5 and 12 years of age): Rs. 15.00
Child below 5 years: Free

   






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