Sanjay Gandhi National Park, or Borivali Park, is a huge protected area located within the limits of Mumbai around 40 km to the north from its center. And yes, if I did a better research instead of complaining about the lack of big, shady, forest-like parks in Mumbai, I would have visited this place years ago. Anyway, better late than never! 🙂 So, one fine day we arrived at the Vashi train station and in around 2 hours of intense journey by the local trains we reached Borivali East. The park is situated within a walking distance from the station, but there are also lots of rickshaws to take you there.
Table of Contents
- 1 Sanjay Gandhi National Park quick facts
- 2 Best things to do in Sanjay Gandhi National Park
- 3 Sanjay Gandhi National Park timings and entry fees
Sanjay Gandhi National Park quick facts
~ The park encompasses the area of 104 km2.
~ It’s listed among the most visited parks in Asia with about 2 mln visitors a year (which is not surprising, to be honest, considering there are more than 18 mln people in Mumbai city alone)
~ There are two lakes in the park – Tulsi lake and Vihar lake, which partially meet the city’s requirements when it comes to water supply.
~ Flora and fauna of this area is extremely diverse. According to the WIkipedia article , the park is home to more than a thousand plant species, 50 000 species of insects (including 172 species of butterflies), numerous species of birds, mammals and reptiles.
~ The place is famous for karvi shrubs (Strobilanthes callosus) with bluish purple flowers which bloom only once in 8 years. And yes, the last blooming took place in 2016, but we should have visited the park in July-August to see mass flowering. In September we saw only occasional patches of purple and blue here and there. A thing to remember in 2024 🙂
Best things to do in Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Take a walk from the entrance up to the Kanheri Caves
Yes, it’s a 7 km walk, and it was a bit tiring to make it with three kids – we ended up carrying Alexandra and Ares a lot, while Adriana heroically covered the distance all by herself. But it was totally worth it – the kids climbed all the trees they wanted, we stopped near the seasonal streams to enjoy the view, I indulged in flower photography. We saw the crabs bravely crossing the road in the most unexpected places, millions of butterflies flapping their wings over the flowers, rare birds, gigantic snails and a troop of monkeys. The branches of shady trees arched over the road, providing a very scenic view.
Note. Although the National Park within the city limits can be considered a tamed jungle, it’s still a jungle after all, so it’s better to be careful and stay alert. For example, when Adriana climbed this tree …
… I’ve noticed a big spider just behind her. We carefully brought her down from another side. Needless to say, I should have checked before she started climbing.
Explore the Kanheri Caves
I’ve explored quite a few rock-cut cave complexes in Maharashtra by now, and to be honest the Kanheri caves were pretty similar to the ones I’ve already seen. However, as we climbed up to the top of the rock formations, I was rewarded by the most stunning views – the vastness of Sanjay Gandhi National Park made me hold my breath in awe.
As for the caves, there are 109 of them, dating from the 1st century BC to the 10th century AD. Most of the caves are rather ascetic and unadorned. They were chiseled out of basaltic rocks and meant for living and meditating. At some point, they even served as inns for travelers and pilgrims. There is an interesting system of channeling rainwater through canals leading to the big tanks. In the complex, there is also a vihara — a prayer hall with massive statues of Buddha at the entrance.
Note. If you visit the caves with kids, keep an eye on them as you climb up – in many places there are no fences or any sort of railing, so it might be dangerous if a child suddenly runs off to the edge. Also, there are lots of monkeys, so mind your food, water bottles, cameras and wallets 🙂
Take a toy train ride
The toy train journey starts and ends at Krishna Giri station and covers around 2.5 km through the jungle. The ride is very scenic and relaxing – after half a day of continuous walking we really appreciated the chance to sit down and enjoy the changing views. Kids were happy to see deer in a spacious enclosure.
Go for a tiger and lion safari
Tiger and lion safari is considered the main attraction of the park, and most of the visitors try not to miss the experience. But to be honest, it’s not my kind of thing. A caged bus will take you for a 15 minutes ride and most probably you’ll get to see a couple of lions. I wouldn’t imagine it to be drastically different from seeing the animals in an ordinary zoo. But magnetism and exotic flavor of the word “safari” does the job attracting numerous visitors.
Unfortunately, the boat rides are not available during the monsoon, otherwise I wouldn’t miss the chance – we love boating. The rides take place on the lake near the Vanrani start point.
In a nutshell, Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a heaven to enjoy – not only it cleanses the air of our polluted city, but it also provides tranquility and closeness to nature. It was hard to believe we were still in Mumbai!
Sanjay Gandhi National Park timings and entry fees
Entry Fee: Adult Rs. 44 , children between 5 Rs.23
Vehicle Entry fee: Four wheeler Rs. 146 , motorcycle Rs. 37
Timings: 7:30am to 6pm
Timings: 9am to 5pm
Entry Fee: Indian visitors Rs. 15, foreign visitors Rs. 200 (I forgot my PIO card, so I had to pay foreign prices)
Tickets: Adult Rs. 37, children Rs. 14
Timings: 9am to 5:30pm, train schedule every half an hour.
Tickets: Rs. 44 for two seater boat and Rs. 88 for four seater boat
Timings: 9:30am to 5:30pm
Lion and Tiger Safari:
Tickets: Adult Rs.58, children Rs.23
Timings: 9am to 12:30pm and 2pm to 4:30pm
Have a pleasant visit 🙂
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