Located within the city of Mumbai, Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has the distinction of being the only wildlifepreserve located within a city in the world. Spread over 104 sq km, the park is popular with wildlife and nature enthusiasts.
It has the reputation of being the most visited national park in Asia. Close to two million people visit the park annually. The park was earlier known as Borivali National Park and was renamed in 1990 after Congress leader and late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay.
The park attracts lots of wildlife, nature enthusiasts and those seeking adventure who flock to the park to trek and to observe the wildlife. Ashok Van and Gaumukh are the trails commonly used by the trekkers. The View Point trail is the most ambitious which takes you to the highest point in the park and offers a panoramic view of Mumbai and Tulsi, Vihar and Powai lakes. Shilonda Trail (4 km), Malad Trail (5 km) and Yeoor Trail (6 km) are other popular trails.
Though home to a wide variety of wildlife, the lion and tiger safari within the park attracts the most number of visitors. Lion and tiger safari, which lasts about 20 minutes, are conducted by the forest authorities and no private vehicles are allowed inside the enclosure.
Barking deer, Hanuman langur and Indian flying fox, birds like jungle owlets, golden orioles can be spotted. Migratory birds also flock to the park during season. The best time to see birds are October to April. August to November is the best time to spot butterflies.
The 2400-year-old Kanheri Caves, located within the park, is another popular tourist attraction. The caves numbering 109, were used by Buddhist monks between the 2nd and 9th centuries as viharas (monasteries) and chaityas (temples). The Trimurti Jain temple located within the park is also popular. The idols of Lord Adinath, Bahubali and Bharat shouldn’t be missed.
The Park also encompasses two lakes – Vihar and Tulsi, which supply water to Mumbai. Crocodiles thrive in Tulsi lake and it is not advisable to swim in the waters.
Situated within city limits, the park also faces its set of problems. Lack of space has pushed residential colonies right up to the park boundary. Leopards have been responsible for deaths of humans and have often strayed outside the park.
In and Around
The Buddhist caves at Kanheri are a must visit for anyone headed to the park for the first time. These caves were built between the 1st century B.C to 9th century A.D.
In the forest there is a famous Jain temple called Trimurti. This temple is widely visited by Digambar sect of Jain community. It has three huge idols of lord Adinathh and his two sons, lord Bahubali and lord Bharat. Many Muni maharaj (Jain Saints) do stay here to preach the followers before moving ahead to other city or town.
“Krishnagiri Upavan” with an area of approx. 5.5 sq.km. is reserved as recreational zone inside the park, to cater educational and recreational needs of the people.
Amongst the several attractions of the Krishnagiri Upavan, the “Lion Safari” is the most famous. The twelve hectare Lion Safari Park with crisscrossed roads, offer close encounter with the majestic king, from special buses.
One more attraction of the park is new “Tiger Safari” established on 20 hectare area in recreation zone. It offers opportunity to the visitors to see and understand this majestic animal “The Tiger”.
There are other attractions like “Gandhi Smarak”, boating in the lotus filled lake, gardens and children parks.
September-March is the best time to visit the park, as during these months climate remains pleasant. Visit to the park during monsoon is not recommended.
How to Reach
Nearest airport is Santa Cruz, which is at a distance of 16 km.
Formerly known as Victoria Terminus, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station is Mumbai’s main rail head. It is well connected to all major cities and is also the main railway station for the local trains running within the city.
Mumbai to Borivali is 30 kms by train on western railway route. Sub urban trains to Borivali are available on Western Railway on every 5 minutes.
Bus services ply regularly between Mumbai and cities like Bengaluru, Surat, Nashik, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Mangalore, Kochi and Goa.
Borivali is near Mumbai octrai post on Mumabi – Ahemdabad highway.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
There are four rest houses and two camp sheds within the park for the visitors. The rest houses and camps are managed by the national park authority. The booking time is from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm. A wide range of accommodation options can be found outside the park.
Where to Eat
There are no options to eat inside the park. Visitors generally carry food and water. You can find plenty of multi-cuisine restaurants outside the park.