Sanjay Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary
Location: Borivali, Mumbai, Maharahstra
Coverage Area: 104-sq-kms
Main Attraction: The Kanheri Caves, Lion Safari, Tiger Safari, The
Best Time To Visit: Throughout the Year.
The Borivali National Park or Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a unique Park as it lies inside the city of Mumbai. The park is located on the northern edge of suburban Mumbai. The area covered by the Park is about 104 square kilometers and is surrounded on three sides by the thriving city of Mumbai. It is probably one of Asia’s most visited Park with about 2 million visitors annually. The park has rich flora and fauna. Inside the Park is also located the Kanheri Caves that are about 2,400 years old and are carved out of the rocky cliffs that are part of the Park.
History has it that this park, which is essentially a forest, has been in existence since the 4th century BC. Before independence the Park was called Krishnagiri National Park. After independence the Park was named Borivli National Park after the residential area close by -Borivali. In 1981 the name was changed to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, after the son of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who died in an air crash.
The Park region is hilly and densely forested. The maximum height within the Park is 400m. The Park has two lakes the Vihar Lake and the Tulsi Lake. These lakes meet a portion of the city’s water needs. The temperature inside the park is about 4 degrees lower than the surrounding populated area. The Park is considered the lungs of the city as it helps to purify the air pollution in the city. The Park is rich in wildlife. It has an estimated 800 types of flowering plants, 284 kinds of birds, 5,000 species of insects, 36 types of mammals, 50 types of reptiles and 150 species of butterfly. The park is home to a number of species of endangered plants and animals. Though no tigers have actually been sighted in the Park, their pugmarks have been found.
A small part of the Park is open to the public. There is a small zoo within the Park as well. Nature trails and treks are also organized within the Park. The Park also boasts of a toy train that runs on a narrow gauge rail line. The train is called Vanrani, which means Jungle Queen; the train was used for over 25 years and was discontinued in 2001 as a result of wear and tear. The train traveled on a circuitous route of over 2.5km within the Park leading to the Kanheri Caves. There are plans to restart the train after the necessary repairs of the track and the train is undertaken.