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~* A hint of green in the grey city *~
May 04, 2009 10:42 AM 14990 Views

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When I heard my friends planning to go to Sanjay Gandhi / Borivalli National Park(SGNP /BNP) on this weekend, I decided to tag along.


Journey begins –


The entry fee is Rs. 20/person. SGNP is positioned in the picturesque hilly areas of Borivali. It nurtures a varied range of fauna and flora on the sprawling land of 104 sq kms and draws a large number of tourists throughout the year. The terrain is undulating with great panoramic views of hills, valleys, lakes and open patches. Rising from an elevation less than about 30 mts. above mean sea level, the terrain culminates into a series of peaks dispersed throughout the park, the highest near the Kanheri caves being 468 mts.


Looking back –


This forest has a history dating back to the 4th century BC, Sopara(Nalasopara) and Kalyan were two ports near Mumbai which use to trade with Greece and Mesopotamia. The routes between these two ports cut through this forest.The word Kanheri is originated from Sanskrit word "Krishnagiri" means, "Black Mountain". The forests of Yeur and Nagla constituted the state property under the Maratha Empire. When the forest dept. came into existence in 1945, the forests were surveyed and brought under proper management. Earlier the name of the park was "Krishnagiri National Park" and the area was just 20.26 sq. km. In 1969, the park of present size materialised, by virtually piecing together the land of varying ownership. An independent unit of forest dept. called "Borivali National Park Sub-division" was created after adding the adjoining areas and "Krishnagiri National Park" was renamed as "Borivali National Park". In the early 80`s it was named as "Sanjay Gandhi National Park"



Some glitches –


*It was a hot day, and within 5 minutes we realised our mistake. We were there without water and umbrellas/caps. After asking a few cucumber sellers on the road side we located the water cooler in the information center. The center hosts a number of displays, which gives important information regarding wildlife. We studied a few of them and continued our journey. Water is not the main problem, as after a certain point you will get vendors selling bottled water, chips, cucumber and ice cream. But that’s it. You won’t get anything other than this to eat anywhere. So we had to go without any food till the time we left. Another problem was, there were signboards with description of the flora and fauna, but all written in Marathi, which was all latin and greek for us. Also since there weren’t any park brochures available for the visitors, it makes it difficult to understand how to get the best out of the park.


The safari –


Amongst the several attractions of the Krishnagiri Upavan, the Lion-Tiger Safari is the most famous. The 13 hectare Safari park surrounded by a 6.5-m high fence, with crisscrossed roads, offer close encounter with the King from the safari bus. The tickets for the safari are priced at Rs.30/person. The windows of the bus have strong iron mesh, as a protection, but after witnessing the tired and not-so-healthy tiger and lions, I seriously doubt whether they are in any condition to attack. Also another question is still pestering in my mind, how did the guide know where exactly the tigers and lions would be spotted? Was the whole thing staged? Dont know what these poor animals feed on inside the confines, but certainly they needed proper care which was starkly evident from their half dead looks. We ‘spotted’ two white tigers, a tiger with her cub and a pair of lions by waterside.


Vanrani –


"Vanrani", the toy train is a favorite among young visitors. A 15-min. ride on this train takes one along the fort hills of the famed Gandhi memorial, traverses couple bridges and tunnels and passes over the Deer Park. There are other attractions like boating in the lake, gardens and children's parks.


Flora and fauna -


The park is a tree lovers delight in all seasons, with a great amount of biodiversity ranging from Kadamb, Shirish, Karanj, Teak, Sesum to species of Acacia, Zizyphus and evergreen patches of Euphorbia. In the drier months from February to May, spectacular flowering of Flame of the Forest is a feast for one's eyes. Flowering of Red silk cotton and Indian coral tree add colour. There are large patches of Bamboo, which make the feel of the jungle even better. Among the many spectacular sights, one which definitely is most worthy, is the seven yearly mass flowering of Karvi. During the period of monsoon, nearly the entire park gets beautifully decorated by blooming flowers, which is a rare visual treat.


Small herds of Spotted deer, a solitary Sambhar, a darting Barking deer or being surprised by a Black naped hare running across your path are just some of the pleasant surprises of the National Park .Slighting a Porcupine, which is rare, or a Palm civet, hardly seen these days or encountering a striped Hyena can make in a memorable experience. The lucky few can possibly see the elusive Four horned antelope or the extremely shy Mouse deer. It is a delightful place for bird watchers. You may find various species of birds like golden orioles, jungle owlets, racket-tailed drongos, magpies, minivets, robins, hornbills, sunbirds, bulbuls, woodpeckers and peacock. At times, migratory as well as resident birds like kingfisher, paradise flycatcher, mynas, swifts, drongos, gulls, herons and egrets are also sighted here. According to wildlife experts, 251 types of birds including both land and water birds are found at this place.


Kanheri caves –


A bus takes you to this interesting glimpse of the history and the culture of Buddhist India. Each side would cost you Rs.20/person. Once there make sure you also buy a small booklet titled “Guide to Kanheri Caves” for Rs 20/- from the ticket counter at the cave entry. The booklet provides information on the structures you are about to see. Without the book, you wouldn’t know a Stupa from a Vihara in in the honeycombed ravine and also since there is no guide to take you through.


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