Sanjay Gandhi National Park or Borivali National Park is among the most visited parks in Asia. It is said to gather nearly 2 million visitors annually; of course, this could also be attributed to the huge population of Mumbai city alone. Nevertheless, if you claim to be a Mumbaikar or are visiting Mumbai, this place should be ticked off your list.
Borivali National park has the distinction of being a 104 sq.km. national park located within Mumbai city limits. It was originally called ‘Krishnagiri National Park’ and after its expansion, it got named ‘Borivali National Park’. In 1981, it was re-christened to ‘Sanjay Gandhi National park’.
Inside the park:
The entry ticket to Borivali National park is Rs. 30 for adults, lesser for kids. Traveling to the several places of interest within the park can be done either walking or by hiring a cycle. The park also has buses running from time to time; and you can even bring your own 2 wheeler or 4 wheeler inside the park for an extra charge.
There is a Tiger/Lion safari and a Mini Train ride, the latter covers a 30-40 minute circuit of the park. Both attractions have an additional charge and are not covered under your ticket.These rides are fairly okay with the only problem being that they won’t move until they have a set number of passengers each time. Boating lake is another decent attraction inside the park.
Hundreds of Monkeys roam freely inside Borivali National park which to a great extent raises the excitement of visitors. We were also fortunate to see spotted deers roaming freely in the forest while on our way to Kanheri caves.
Kanheri Caves is a major attraction inside Borivali National park located 7 km further down. The Buddhist caves date back to 4th century BC and have been very well maintained. The caves look spectacular, although as visitors, we were hungry for more information about the history of Kanheri caves. There was very little information available at the entrance to Kanheri and once at the site the caves are merely numbered. Lack of information makes the viewing very monotonous. Yet, one cannot take away the fact that the caves are beautiful and picturesque. The rock cut caves are sculpted over the cliff and it is an assured breathtaking view during monsoons along with waterfalls and the expanse of the forest.
An interesting thing about Borivali National Park is the facility to hire cycles to explore the park; available just near the entrance gate. They charge Rs 60 for 2 hours along with a deposit of Rs 300 (refundable) and an ID proof. So, when u plan to visit the park the next time, check with their officials about this option. It is a great way to explore the park keeping the environment in mind. (Note: During weekends, due to increased number of visitors, a typical 30 to 45 minute waiting is expected for a rented cycle).
While we brought our own vehicles inside the park, we also hired a bicycle to ride to Kanheri caves which was a good test of stamina. As a non-cyclist, the exercise took a toll on me and I had to barter my cycle with a motor vehicle that belonged to a friend of mine; which actually turned out to be a good deal as I got to lay my hands on this……..
Lack of food joints:
Borivali National park lacks adequate food joints so bring your own food along, unless you are okay with chips, spiced cucumber, guava and tea. Also carry bottled water as their freely available drinking water was not upto drinkable standards.
Borivali National Park is a very good picnic spot within city limits for friends and family; And a sanctuary for nature lovers.
During weekends, the park is flocked by tourists, so it is safe if you chose to cover the 7 km journey to Kanheri caves walking. However, during weekdays, try to avoid walking alone or choose to do it with a group of friends. Females especially, should stay away from walking to Kanheri caves alone as the roads are secluded, especially during weekdays.
A landmark in itself, the park is located just off the Western Express highway in Borivali (East), Mumbai. It can be easily reached by bus, train (western railway line), taxi or rickshaw.
(Note: Ticket prices were correct at the time of writing this blog. It is advised to check their official website or contact their office for updated information about prices)