Sanjay Gandhi National park, also known as Borivali National Park (former name), is a huge park located within the city of Mumbai. It is known as a one-of-its-kind national park since there aren’t many national parks of this size located within a proper city. It is also one of the most visited national parks in Asia and a famous tourist spot in Mumbai. The park expands over an area of 104 square kilometers and is encircled by the bustling city on three of its sides. Apart from its vivid flora and fauna, Sanjay Gandhi National Park is also famous as the home grounds of Kanheri Caves – a unique set of 109 caves made out of basalt rock formations during the first century BCE till the tenth century BCE.
The history of Sanjay Gandhi National Park is as old as the caves situated within the park grounds. However, before the independence of India the park was known as Krishnagiri National Park and only covered 20.26 square kilometers. It must be noted here that the term Kanheri is derived from the Sanskrit term Krishnagiri which means ‘black mountains’. Later in 1969, the park was expanded to cover the nearby forest reserves and was later renamed as Borivali National Park. Sanjay Gandhi National Park acquired its current name in 1981 after Sanjay Gandhi, the son of then prime minister Indira Gandhi, who died in an air crash in 1980.
The park comprises of two main lakes – Tulsi and Vihar, plus there are many river streams within the park which make for a great location for family picnics and gatherings. The park is also considered as the ‘lungs of the city’ because of its lush green surroundings and pleasant landscape. It provides for a nice and relaxing break to the locals and visitors from the hustling and bustling of the city of Mumbai.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is home to more than thousands of rare species of trees, approximately 250 species of birds, 150 species of butterflies, 50000 species of insects, 38 species of reptiles, and 40 varieties of mammals. The forest covering the park can be divided into two main categories – Semi-Evergreen and South Indian moist deciduous. Some of the major trees found in the park include teak, kadamba, sheesham, amd ziziphus. Karvi (also written as Karvy), famous for flowering once every seven years, can also be found in the park. Fauna that can be observed within the national park includes spotted deer, Indian Hare, Porcupine, Leopards, and reptiles such as monitor lizards, cobras, and pythons.
For more information, please check the Forest Department’s website.
Located in the heart of Mumbai, reaching Sanjay Gandhi National Park is much easier than any other parks in the country. The park is well-connected to the rest of the city via local buses, auto rickshaws, and cabs.
Borivali Railway Station is the nearest railhead to the national park at a distance of 2 km.