The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has always been the ideal picnic or weekend break away destination for Mumbaikars in search of some respite from the chaos and pressures of this densely populated metropolis. May it be a boat ride in the artificial lake near the main gate or joy ride in the hugely famous mini train or the ‘van rani’, visitors throng these attractions by the thousands on an ideal weekend. Some do walk upto the Gandhi Tekdi and enjoy the sky scape around the immediate vicinity.
Location and Biodiversity
- 103 sq.km. of pure wilderness in the heart of Mumbai city and surrounded by a population of 20 million people.
- Part of the Western Ghats biodiversity, forming roughly 20 per cent of Mumbai’s geographical area
- Home to more than 274 species of birds, 35 species of mammals, 78 species of reptiles and amphibians, 170 species of butterflies and over a staggering 1,300 species of plants
Constructed way in the 19th century, the Vihar (1860) and Tulsi (1868) Lakes are located within the forests of SGNP. In fact the need for a protected area like SGNP arose due to the pertinent need of protecting the water catchments of these 2 lakes which were created so as to supply drinking water to the city of Mumbai, which they continue to do so even today! Apart from the supply, these water bodies are places of immense natural beauty; they also harbor a thriving population of mugger crocodiles and are throbbing with migratory bird life throughout the year.
The Kanheri Caves
Situated within the national park is a 2000 year old complex of some 160 rock-cut caves popularly known as the ‘Kanheri caves’ a protected archeological site. Kanheri is derived from Sanskrit word Krishnagiri, which literally means black mountain. Visitors can view the magnificent relics of Buddha and the Bodhisattvas and walk along the pillared corridors of the prayer halls chiseled out in the rocky outcrop.