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. Be it 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 walk upto the Gandhi Tekdi and enjoy the sky scape around the immediate vicinity.
Location and Biodiversity
Credit: Dr. Anish Andheria
- 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
- 254 species of birds
- 40 species of mammals
- 78 species of reptiles and amphibians
- 150 species of butterflies
- over a staggering 1,300 species of plants
Credit: P R Masurkar
Constructed way back 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 archeological complex of some 160 rock-cut caves popularly known as the ‘Kanheri Caves’. The caves are carved from basalt rock and date from the 1st century BCE to the 10th century CE. 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. There is also an ancient water storage and management system for hermits who used to live in the caves, which is worth studying and emulating in modern times.
Jan Dhan Van Dhan – Souvenir Shop
Situated right at the exit gate is a newly established souvenir shop. On sale is an exciting array of coffee-table books on the biodiversity of the park and wildlife themed apparel like trekking vests, hats and camouflage jackets. Various handicrafts showcasing the rich heritage and culture of the tribal population in Maharashtra are also on display. A variety of unique consumables like exotic jams, juices and other forest produce are also available. Visiting the souvenir shop and browsing the extensive variety on display is a must to make your park visit a memorable one.