Situated in the thriving metropolis of Mumbai, the Borivali National Park is like a giant oasis of diversity. This large area has dense tropical forests, a large variety of exquisite animals, birds, reptiles and is often called as the ‘Lungs of Mumbai.’ This large area of a hundred and four square kilometres is protected and preserved from the crowds and pollution of the city that lies at its doorstep. With about two million visitors every year the Sanjay Gandhi National Park is one of the most visited parks in the world. Its diverse flora and fauna along with the portrayal of India’s beautiful historic past in the form of the Kanheri Caves is what attracts tourists to this National Park.
How to get there
Located in the most populous city of India, Borivali National Park is easily accessible to all tourists. The city has many domestic and international airports that connect to many major cities from across the world and the country. One can easily enter the city and use public transportations like the bus and trains to reach the park. The National Park is barely a kilometre away from Borivali Station and one can either walk or hire a rickshaw to get to the main entrance. The Western Express Highway can also be used as it passes by the park’s main entrance. One must keep in mind that the main gates open at 7:30 AM and close at 5:30 PM.
Things to Do
The Lion Safari
A magnificent 20 minute ride through the twelve hectares of forest in one of the parks’ many green buses is not only an encouragement to eco-tourism, but is also one of the main attractions of the park. The Borivali National Park is believed to have twenty five lions and lionesses inhabiting the area but only about two of them can be safely seen by visitors in the buses. The caged buses enclosing the tourists while the wild beasts roam about freely brings about a sense of adventure to the whole ordeal.
The Tiger Safari
Within twenty hectares of fenced forests, four tigers are kept semi-confined. The eco friendly caged buses allow tourists to safely tour these areas so as to spot these magnificent striped large cats. The safety of the tourists is a major concern and it is amazing to think that so close to the mega city of Mumbai these dangerous tigers roam free in their natural habitats. The Tiger Safari is an absolute enchantment and one must try to avail of it.
The Kanheri Caves
Sculpted by Buddhists in the 1st Century BCE these stunning caves are an archaeological wonder. Long ago this area also served as an inn for travelers along with being a settlement for Buddhist monks. These hundred and nine dwellings were carved out of the rocks and compete with the Ajanta caves at Aurangabad in their beauty and charm. It makes for a nice visit within the city for history enthusiasts. The Caves are open to the public from 9AM to 5PM and a minimalistic entry fee is charged which is different for Indians and foreigners.
The Jain Temple
Located in the dense forests of Borivali National Park is an ancient Jain Temple called “Trimurti.” It is often visited by the many Jain saints or ‘Muni Maharaj’ during their journey to the city. The templ has three gigantic idols of the mighty lord Adinathh and his two beloved sons, lord Bahubali and lord Bharat. This Trimurti temple is quite old and its age definitely adds to its alluring beauty.
The Van Rani Narrow Gauge Train
Running through the various attractions of the park is the Van Rani Toy Train. Though it was briefly discontinued in 2001, Today it is up and working. It travels through the National Park and showcases the astonishing biodiversity of the region. The fun fifteen minute train ride takes the tourists through the foothills of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, traverses through a number of tunnels and bridges and also passes over the magnificent Deer Park. Many interesting sites such as animals and tribal people’s dwellings can be seen while travelling by this interesting Toy train!
Boating at the small beautiful lake near the start point of Van Rani is an excellent way to spend a lovely quiet afternoon with your friends and family. This serene boat ride at the lake is a nice and peaceful experience for everyone. The bridge over the lake adds to the aesthetic value of the lake greatly.
Being blessed with devastatingly beautiful natural surroundings, the Borivali National Park offers many trails for the public so that they can enjoy this amazing beauty first hand. Some of the most popular walking trails open to the public are the Ashok Van trail which leads to a marvellous dense cluster of Ashoka trees, the Gaumukh trail which leads to an open place of volcanic rock, the ‘View Point’ trail which is a more taxing trail leading to the highest point in Mumbai, for a stunning panoramic view of the city and its three lakes. Once ever eight years the lovely Karvy trails are taken upon by nature lovers who wish to see the lovely mass blooming of the Karvy plant.