The area can be visited throughout the year since Mumbai has an equable climate. Temperatures range from a maximum of 350C to a minimum of 150C. The region receives approximately 2500 mm. of rainfall annually (usually between June and September).
The park is open everyday. Trekking through the hills watching birds is most pleasurable between October and April. Butterflies are best seen between August and November.
During summer, between April and May, the panther and the deer can be seen near waterholes. The forest is breathtaking in the monsoons, also the time when the Karvi flower blooms, once in seven years.
Numerous hotels and lodges exist in Mumbai, though it is a comparatively expensive city to stay in. Some tourist cottages are also available near the park.
For details, contact:
The Government of India Tourist office,
123 Maharshi Karve Road,
Opp. Churchgate Station,
Timings: Weekdays: 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday: 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tel.: 022-2203 2144
Tourist hotline: 1913
By Air: Mumbai is well-connected to all major cities by air. You will land at the domestic airport in Santacruz or the International airport in Sahar, from where you can proceed by rail or road.
By Rail: Travel an hour by a local train in Mumbai from Churchgate to Borivli station (34 km.)
By Road: Take a bus (No. 188) or an autorickshaw from Borivli station to the park entrance.
59 species of mammals are recorded here, which include the leopard, Rusty Spotted Cat, jungle cat, jackal, chousingha and mouse deer. The small carnivores include the small Indian Civet Viverricula indica, Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus and the small mongoose Herpestes edwardsi. The common langur Presbytis entellus and the Rhesus monkey Macaca mulatta are also often found in the park. Panther Panthera pardus and wild boar Sus scrofa may be seen prowling occasionally. The barking deer Muntiacus muntjac is the most common deer in this area. The four-horned antelope Tetracerus quadricornis and the nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus are other prominent residents. Chital Axis axis and sambar Cervus unciolor were introduced into the area by the Forest Department with some success.
The 52 species of reptiles found include the mugger, monitor lizard, cobra, rat snake, Russel's viper, cobra, python, checkered keelback and several other snakes.
The tree frog, bullfrog, six-toed frog are some of the amphibians that inhabit these forests. About 30 species of freshwater as well as saltwater fish are found here.
There is also a large variety of insect life. Several species of spiders like the Giant wood spiders, signature spiders and the black wood spider can be seen. Silk cotton bugs, carpenter bees, dragonflies, damselflies and the mantis are plentiful. Butterflies such as the famed blue mormon, the blue oak leaf, jezebels, tigers, monarchs, egg flies and the yellow orange tips are also seen here.
About 299 species of birds are represented on this stretch. These include resident as well as migrant varieties. Some of these birds come from the as far away as the Himalayas, Central Asia or Europe. Because of the lakes close to the forest, most of the birds seen here are tree-dwellers or aquatic. Birds from heronries in Thane, Diva and Kandivli also visit the sanctuary for food.
The Crested Serpent Eagle is commonly seen in Borivli. The Common Pariah Kite, Indian Shikra, Hawks and Large Falcons are other birds of prey that are frequently encountered.
The Emerald Dove Ophapuchalcs indica, Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, Yellowbacked Sunbird Harpactes fasciatus, AshySwallow Shrike Artamus fuscus, and Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus are not often seen, but these exist within the park too. And the Three-toed Kingfisher Ceyx erithacus, Kashmir Roller Coracias garrulous, Blackbacked Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes festivus, Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus and Bluecheeked Bee-eater Merops superciliosus are other notable varieties.
The Osprey (fishing eagle), the Whitebellied Sea-eagle and the Peafowl found here are now endangered.
The park is located on hilly and undulating lands. It assures Mumbai of heavy rainfall (2,600 mm. per year) and forms the catchment of the Powai and Vihar lakes, which supply water to the city. The park consists of some flatlands next to the lakes. The forested hills (500 m.) also protect the laterite soils from erosion. Several springs and streams course through the park with the Vasai (Bassein) Creek running through the centre of the reserve. The lake islands are the refuge of several animals and birds.
The vegetation in Sanjay Gandhi National Park is predominantly of the tropical type with a thick canopy. The forests are of the following types: mainly Southern Tropical Moist Deciduous and South Indian Moist Deciduous with pockets of Semi-evergreen forests, Western tropical hill forests and mangrove scrub forests. The dominant species include teak Tectona grandis, shishum Dalbergia latifolia, shirish Albizia lebek, karanj Pongamia pianata, kadamba Adina cordifolia and the red silk cotton Bombax malbaricum.
Salmalia malabarica, Lagerstroemia parviflora, Terminalia tomentosa and Stephegyne parvifolia are some of the other species. Most of the vegetation is of secondary type following regeneration; except for some patches near hill-tops of Nagla or north of the Kanheri caves. Bamboo, orchids and creepers are also found.
The flowering of the various species sets the forest ablaze in summer. Flowers of the Indian coral tree Erythrina indica and the Flame of the Forest Butea monosperma are the prime contenders. In the monsoon, the Karvi Strobilanthes sp. blooms and the forest is covered in a pleasant purple. The violet Zingiberaceae sp. and the white Costus sp. also appear in the rains.
One area of the reserve has been converted to a lion safari park that can be toured using the MTDC organised tours. This safari, however, has been under criticism from conservationists who are against the display of animals in captivity.
The Spotbill breeds in the Vihar Lake. And there is a huge vulture colony on a hilly range near Mandipada to the north of the Nagla block. Vultures have been seen to move eastward from the Mumbra hills to the Yeoor forests. There are also nesting areas to the north of the Gokhivare range. On the Mumbra rocks itself, there is an old nesting colony of Longbilled Vultures. Herons and egrets are often seen flying from Kandivli and Thane to the Tulsi and Vihar lakes.
The Kanheri Buddhist caves, which comprise 104 caves that are about 2000 years old, house a large number of bats.
Three colonies of flying foxes are located at Thane, Ghatkopar and Kandivli, bordering the park. Flying foxes from here migrate to the park every night for food.
Don't swim in the lakes or rivers.
The park wildlife is protected under the law, so do not damage plants, even the water lily, and don't disturb animals.
Park your vehicle only in the prescribed parking lots.
Dogs are only permitted on leash within the confines of the park.
Don't throw cigarette butts around as these increase fire hazard.
Deputy Conservator of Forests, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali (E), Mumbai – 400 066. Tel.: 022-28860362/ 28860389.
MTDC Tours Division and Reservations Office, CDO Hutments, Madame Cama Road, Nariman Point, Mumbai. Tel.: 022-22026713.
The existence of the 109 old Buddhist Kanheri Caves make it a place of great historical importance. The caves have been carved out of the rock-face and bear inscriptions in Brahmi, Devnagri and Sanskrit. The largest of these caves contains huge images of Buddha, and also that of the eleven-headed Avalokiteshwara. There is also a hall with several pillars and a stupa. 'Kanheri' comes from the Sanskrit Krsnagiri, which means black mountain, geologically called Volcanic Breccia. Its name in Prakrit, Kanagiri occurs in an inscription in Nasik by the Satavahana ruler, Vasisthipura. These caves were probably occupied from the 1st century A.D. to the 9th century A.D., many with courtyards, benches, water cisterns and stairs. Vihar Lake also probably earns its name from the Buddhist Vihara, a habitat for all lifeforms. On Mahashivaratri and on Mahavir Jayanti, the place attracts thousands of devotees.
Historically, when the ports of Sopara and Kalyan were in use during the 4th century B.C., there was a line of passage connecting these ports through the forest. The Yeoor and Nagla forest blocks were first inspected in 1945, by the Forest Department. The area was then called Krishnagiri National Park. The area of this Park was further increased in 1969 and it became known as Borivli National Park. It was in the 1980s when it was finally renamed as Sanjay Gandhi National Park.