Sanjay Gandhi National Park

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Sanjay Gandhi National Park
SGNP, Borivali National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Entrance of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.JPG
Main gate of the park
Map showing the location of Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Map showing the location of Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Location Mumbai Suburban District, Maharashtra, India
Nearest city Mumbai
Coordinates 19°15′N 72°55′E / 19.250°N 72.917°E / 19.250; 72.917Coordinates: 19°15′N 72°55′E / 19.250°N 72.917°E / 19.250; 72.917
Area 104 square kilometres (40 sq mi)[1]
Established 1969
Governing body Ministry of Environment and Forests, Maharashtra State Forest Dept.
Official website

Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), previously Borivali National Park,[2] is a large protected area in the northern part of suburban Mumbai city in Maharashtra State in India.[3] It encompasses an area of 104 km2 (40 sq mi) and is surrounded on three sides by India's most populous city.[4] It is notable as one of the major national parks existing within a metropolis limit and is one of the most visited parks in the world[3]

The rich flora and fauna of Sanjay Gandhi National Park attracts more than 2 million visitors every year. Tourists also enjoy visiting the 2400 years old Kanheri caves sculpted out of the rocky cliffs which lie within the park.

History[edit]

7 m. tall Buddha statue at entrance to the largest Kanheri cave

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park area has a long written history dating back to the 4th century BC. In ancient India, Sopoara and Kalyan were two ports in the vicinity that traded with ancient civilisations such as Greece and Mesopotamia. The 45 km (28 mi) land route between these two ports was partially through this forest.[5]

The Kanheri Caves in the centre of the park were an important Buddhist learning centre and pilgrimage site sculpted by Buddhist monks between pradyut sakhseria 9th and the 1st centuries BCE.[6] They were chiselled out of a massive basaltic rock outcropping.[7]

The park was named 'Krishnagiri National Park' in the pre-independence era. At that time the area of the park was only 20.26 km2 (7.82 sq mi). In 1969, the park was expanded to its present size by acquiring various reserve forest properties adjoining the park. After this, an independent unit of the Forest Department called 'Borivali National Park Sub-division' administered the area. Krishnagiri National Park was created in 1974 and later renamed as 'Borivali National Park'. In 1981, it was re-dedicated as 'Sanjay Gandhi National Park' in memory of Sanjay Gandhi, the son of ex Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, who was killed in an air-crash in 1980.

River in the park

Geography[edit]

The park is nestled in the hill ranges to the east of the suburb of Borivali. It occupies most of the northern suburbs. To the west lie the townships of Goregaon, Malad, Kandivali, Borivali and Dahisar. To the east lie the townships of Bhandup and Mulund. To the south lies the Aarey Milk Colony. The northern reaches of this forest lie in Thane city. The park and these areas surrounding it are all part of the Mumbai metropolitan area.

The region is hilly with elevations between 30 m (98 ft) and 480 m (1,570 ft). The Park encompasses two lakes, Vihar Lake and Tulsi Lake, which meet part of the city's water requirements. The park is said to be the lungs of the city as it purifies much of the air pollution of the city.

Biodiversity[edit]

Dense Forest

The park is a bustling forest, with an estimated 800 types of mauve. This flower is native to the park and the surrounding regions, including Karnala, the Yeoor hills, Tungareshwar and some parts of Goregaon’s Film City. The park is also home to a small population of leopards.

Wildlife[edit]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Leopard at SGNP

The park is home to a number of endangered species of flora and fauna. The forest area of the Park houses over 1000 plant species, 251 species of migratory, land and water birds, 50,000 species of insects, 40 species of mammals. In addition, the Park also provides shelter to 38 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibians and also 150 species of butterflies and a large variety of fish.[4][8]

Flora: Kadamba, teak, karanj, shisam, and species of acacia, ziziphus, euphorbia, flame of the forest, red silk cotton and a number of other varieties of flowers. Karvi or Karvy, a flowering plant that flowers once in seven years, can be found in the Park.

Chital (Spotted deer) at SGNP

Fauna: The forest cover in the park helps provide the ideal habitat for many wild animals. Chital (or spotted deer), Rhesus Macaque and Bonnet Macaque are some of the wild mammals that can easily be spotted roaming inside the park. Other large mammals found in the park are: Black Naped or Indian Hare, Muntjac (Barking Deer), Porcupine, Asian Palm Civet, Chevrotain (Mouse Deer), Hanuman or grey langur, Indian Flying-fox, Sambar Deer and Leopard. One can also spot hyena or four-horned antelope.

Reptiles living here include:crocodiles in the Tulsi Lake, pythons, cobras, monitor lizards, Russell's Vipers, Bamboo Pit Viper and Ceylonese Cat Snakes.[4]

Butterflies Total 172 species of butterflies has been reported here, of which the spectacular ones are Blue Mormon, the phenomenal artist of camouflage the Blue Oak leaf, the bright jezebels and Large Yellow and White Orange tips, Tigers, Eggflies and Sailers.

Avian-Fauna: Some of the birds one may see in the park are: Jungle Owlets, golden orioles, racket-tailed drongos, minivets, magpies, robins, hornbills, bulbuls, sunbirds, peacock, and woodpeckers. Migratory and local birds such as paradise flycatcher and various species of kingfishers, mynas, drongos, swifts, gulls, egrets, and herons have also been spotted.[4]

Wild tiger[edit]

In 2003, pug marks and droppings of a Bengal tiger were found in the park. Although the tiger was never widely seen,[9][10] it did bring some excitement to city folks as records of tiger being found here are quite old and forgotten now with the last tiger being shot down 80 years earlier in the region.[11] Conservation was also proposed for the interlinking habitat corridors and nearby wilderness areas in the state and upgrade their status as Tiger habitat.[12]

Mass flowering of Karvi[edit]

The Karvi shrub, as it is locally called in the Marathi language, sometimes also spelled as Karvy in English, only blooms once in eight years in a mass flowering covering the forest floor in a lavender blush. It grows in abundance in the Western ghats hills near Mumbai including throughout the Sanjay Gandhi National Park as in other parts of its natural range. In Sanjay Gandhi National Park its latest bloomings took place in 2008, and it is scheduled to bloom here again in 2016. Termed by nature enthusiasts as 'nature's miracle' its maximum bloom can be seen on some of the inner paths and trails that lie undisturbed in the park. It survives best on vast slopy expanses on the hillsides with Kanheri caves area of the park being one of the best places to observe large areas of blooms.[13][14]

In the state of Maharashtra, the mass flowering of Karvi has been observed to occur in Mumbai the same year as in the hill station of Khandala and one year earlier in Bhimashankar and Malshej Ghat, beyond Kalyan.[15] Near Mumbai, the Karvi is also found in Karnala, the Yeoor hills, Tungareshwar and some parts of Goregaon including Film City.[14]

Threats[edit]

Leopard in mini zoo at SGNP

The park has faced a number of problems similar to those faced by national parks elsewhere in the world, involving conflicts between natural and human interests.

In the early 2000s a road, as proposed, would have cut through the park. Animal Activist Tarun Nayar went to court to halt this project.

The lack of space in Mumbai has pushed residential colonies right up to the park boundary. This boundary is poorly fenced and has often allowed wild animals into human habitations. Slums have mushroomed around the park as well. Corruption among local politicians and Mumbai's influential builder lobby are commonly seen as responsible for a perceived shrinking of the park.

In June 2004, leopards were responsible for the deaths of 20 humans within the span of a week. This was not the first attack: for the past 10 years, there have been attacks attributed to leopards stalking children and adults outside the park fringes. After an outcry was raised and the situation reached alarming proportions, eight leopards were caught and relocated.

Poaching[edit]

Sanjay Gandhi national park has played home to many poachers in the recent years. Usually, leopards are attacked. In many cases these animals had been poisoned, and claws or other valuable body parts were cut off and sold. Poaching could soon wipe out Mumbai's leopard population.

Fire[edit]

During the summer and any time before the monsoon, fires burn in the park, at least one every two weeks. This has resulted in the loss of rare trees and loss of habitat for wild animals. The locals are often suspected of burning the trees on some of the outskirts of the forest to build their homes there.

Tourism[edit]

SGNP view from Highest Point Trail
Buddhist caves at Kanheri

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is said to be one of the most visited National Parks in Asia. According to estimates, around 2 million visitors visit this park annually. Collection at the gates in November 2004 touched INR9.8 million (US$160,000).

The Krishnagiri Upavan is an area of approximately 5.5 km2 (2.12 sq mi) reserved as an easily accessible public recreation zone inside the park. The remaining core area has restricted access. Among the several attractions of the Krishnagiri Upavan is a mini-zoo where visitors can view animals up close. There is a crocodile park where one can easily view different sizes of these reptiles all at one place. The lion and tiger safaris educate and guide visitors through the natural habitats of these animals. A narrow gauge train travels around the tourist zone showcasing parts of the rich biodiversity. There a boating facility where visitors can rent a two person pedal-powered boat for Rs. 15 per 15-minute increment at19°13′46″N 72°52′8″E / 19.22944°N 72.86889°E / 19.22944; 72.86889. Two watchtowers are available for panoramic views of the park.

Many visitors also travel to the Kanheri Caves, especially on an auspicious day in August. Nature trails and treks are also popular. Rock climbing enthusiasts often come to national park. Many rock faces around the National Park and the Kanheri Caves offer a great opportunity for rock climbers.

Vanrani narrow gauge train[edit]

Narrow gauge train

The Park also features a "toy train" that runs on a narrow gauge railway. The toy train Van rani, which means Jungle Queen, ran for around twenty-five years. It was discontinued in 2001 because of the poor condition of the track. The circuitous route covers a 2.5 km (1.55 mi) distance. However in 2004, fresh bids were announced for the repair of the track, which was estimated to cost around Rs 3 million (Rs 3 million). The tracks have been repaired and the train is now operational. The fun train ride of about 15 minutes takes you along the foothills of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial on 190 m (620 ft) Pavilion Hill, traverses a couple of bridges and tunnels and passes over the Deer Park.

You would be able to see deer in their alloted cages. The train passes through the jungle area where we can see hutments where people dwell. Deers are also seen near these hutments walking in the jungle.

Boating[edit]

Another attraction is a boating service available near the Vanrani start point. 2 as well as 4 seater pedalos are available for calm evening along with your dear ones in a small lake. There is a bridge on this lake where you can stand and watch the boats in water. The bridge is used as a marker for limiting the boats to one side.

Tiger Safari and Lion Safari[edit]

Sleeping Lion at SGNP Lion Safari

Main attractions of the park are a Lion Safari and a Tiger Safari for encouraging Eco-tourism.[16] The Lion safari is a 20-minute ride through a 12 ha (29.65 acres) fenced forest area in one of the park's green buses.The Park is said to have a total of about 25 lions and lionesses. There are hardly 2 lions which visitors can safely see up close from inside the caged buses. The remaining 23 have been relocated or placed in fenced areas far away from the roads used by the green buses. During visiting hours, some of the resident lions are let out into the enclosure, and can be viewed from the safety of the bus. There are 4 tigers that are kept semi-confined in a 20 ha (49.42 acres) fenced area that is toured by the buses. A 5 m (16.40 ft) high and 2,200 m (7,217.85 ft) long protective fencing surrounds the area. This is done so that all visitors can safely view lions and tigers in their natural habitat.[17] Here the visitors are caged in the bus so the big cats can roam like in the wild. Two other tigers roam in a much larger area. There are many claims that many times these tigers and lions are tranquilised, so that the number of tourists can be increased

Walking trails[edit]

The path to Kanheri

There are several public walking trails in the park. The popular Ashok Van trail winds up through thick forest to a dense cluster of Ashoka trees that are a welcome half way resting spot. One can return by Gaumukh trail to an open place of volcanic rock to return to the Kanheri caves. A more ambitious route is the 'View Point' trail to the highest point in Mumbai, for a panoramic view of the city and a view of the three lakes of the city – Tulsi, Vihar and Powai Lake. New jungle trails at Sanjay Gandhi National Park allow visitors to see the more unexplored parts of the park. They are the 4 km (2.49 mi) Shilonda Trail, the 5 km (3.11 mi) Malad Trail, and the 6 km (3.73 mi) Yeoor Trail. Trails access cost is Rs. 25 per person.[18]

Local conservation NGOs such as the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS)[14] and World Wide Fund for Nature - India (WWF-India)[15] bring groups of urban residents from Mumbai and elsewhere, sometimes in collaboration with other organisations, for regular guided nature education walks in the nature trails of Sanjay Gandhi National Park[19][20] and organise special trips when the rare Karvi flowers are in full bloom which only happens once every eight years.[13]

Jain temple[edit]

Vihara prayer hall, one of the larger Kanheri caves
Monkeys near Kanheri Caves

In the forest there is a famous Jain temple called Trimurti. This temple is widely visited by Digambar sect of Jain community. It has three huge idols of lord Adinathh and his two sons, lord Bahubali and lord Bharat. Many Muni maharaj (Jain Saints) do stay here to preach the followers before moving ahead to other city or town.

This is also a small station on the Vanrani trail.

Kanheri caves[edit]

The Kanheri Caves are a protected archaeological site at 19°12′30″N 72°54′23″E / 19.20833°N 72.90639°E / 19.20833; 72.90639. The caves were sculpted by Buddhist residents starting in the 1st century BCE. The area was actually a settlement and once served as inns for travellers. The word Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit word Krishnagiri which means Black Mountain.

Access[edit]

The Park entrance is located in the eastern section of Borivali, 0.9 km (0.56 mi) from Borivali station, which is 40 km (25 mi) north of Mumbai Central station, with suburban trains running every 5 minutes. From Borivali station, one can walk or hire an auto rickshaw to reach Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is well connected with all parts of Mumbai and Maharashtra by road. The Western Express Highway (NH 8) passes by the park entrance. Buses are available on holidays and Sundays from Mumbai to the Park. Also, chartered vehicles can be hired for groups to visit the park. The park can be accessed from eastern side through Yeoor, Thane.

Park Timings: Main gates open at 7:30 am and close at 5:30 pm. The park also provides monthly and yearly pass for morning walk. Timing for these types of passes are 5:00 am to 7:30 am only.

You are allowed to take your mode of transport along, till the Kanheri caves by paying a nominal amount at the main gate.

The nearest airport is Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Santa Cruz 18 km (11 mi)from the Park. Nearest railway station is at Borivali, which is connected to Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Mumbai Central Railway terminus. Local trains regularly ply between Churchgate and Borivali station.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mumbai Plan". Department of Relief and Rehabilitation (Government of Maharashtra). Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  2. ^ Why deny our British past; 10 January 2002; Mid-DAY Newspaper
  3. ^ a b A real jungle in a concrete one; EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE; 4 June 1998; The Indian Express & A real jungle within a concrete jungle; 28 May 1998; ; The Indian Express
  4. ^ a b c d "Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali, Mumbai.". Wildlife/National Parks. Maharashtra State Forest Department. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Historical Information". Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Sanjaygandhinationalpark.net. Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  6. ^ "Kanheri Caves". Retrieved 28 January 2007. 
  7. ^ "Mumbai's Ancient Kanheri Caves". Retrieved 31 January 2007. 
  8. ^ Mirza, Zeeshan. & Pal, Saunak. (2008) A checklist of reptiles and amphibians of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, Maharashtra. Cobra, II (4), 14–19.
  9. ^ Tigress caught on video at Sanjay Gandhi National Park; PTI; 26 June 2003;rediff.com
  10. ^ Big cat back in Mumbai forest after a gap of 75 years; Gulf News; by Pamela Raghunath; May 28, 2003,A tiger in Mumbai after 83 years; MIDDAY (Mumbai); 26 June 2003, Mumbai leaps into tiger territory; Gulf News; By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent; July 2, 2003,Tigertracking – On the trail of a tiger (Panthera tigiris) (2003); by Mayur N. Kamath; Tiger filmed in the forests of Mumbai's Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) by Mayur N. Kamath who is currently Chairman of the Wildlife Images and Reflections (WIR)
  11. ^ A tiger on Malabar Hill; Sep 4, 2009; Livemint.com – The Wall Street Journal; HT Media; Hindustan Times, 2009 Book: Living Jewels of Indian Jungle, published by BNHS, 204 pages, to tigers – `Tigers of Salsette Island'; Book Review: India's natural history; by Meena Menon; Aug 30, 2005; The Hindu – India's National Newspaper, Book: TREASURES OF INDIAN WILDLIFE: Ashok S. Kothari, Boman F. Chhapgar — Editors; Produced by Marg Publications for Bombay Natural History Society; 2005
  12. ^ NEWSLINE SPECIAL: Once in Pune forests: Tiger, tiger burning bright, by Madhav Gokhale; May 26, 2003; The Indian Express Newspaper, Tiger may expand boundaries of park; TNN; 5 July 2003; Times of india
  13. ^ a b Nature lovers on the Karvy trail; TNN, 22 September 2008; The Times of India
  14. ^ a b c City gears for lavender Karvi’s once-in-eight-years bloom; by Nitya Kaushik; 12 August 2008; The Indian Express Newspaper
  15. ^ a b The Karvy blooms; By Shantanu Chhaya; 24 July 2000; Bombay Edition: Bombay Times; The Times of India Supplement. A copy of this original Newspaper article is posted online at "mumbai-central.com": [1]
  16. ^ To spot the Bengal tigers, visit Borivali National Park; by Nitya Kaushik; May 16, 2008; The Indian Express Newspaper
  17. ^ "Sanjay Gandhi National Park Safari". maharashtratourism.net. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  18. ^ Cook, Sharell (10 January 2009). "New Nature Trails at Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai". About.com:India Travel. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 
  19. ^ Wet and Wild; by Nitya Kaushik; 15 June 2009; The Indian Express
  20. ^ BNHS~ WWF to prevent garbage at Borivali park; 11 March 2002; Mid-DAY Newspaper

Parts of the article referred to from the Times of India article dated 5 July 2004

  • Amol Patwardhan (2014) Butterflies of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, Ambient Science, 1(1): 7-15.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park: Flickr Group photos at http://www.flickr.com/groups/sgnpmumbai/pool/

Kasambe, R. (2012): Butterfly fauna of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Mumbai. Bionotes. 14 (3): 76–80 Template:Http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Butterflies of SGNP and Mumbai by Dr. Raju Kasambe Bionotes 2012.pdf

External links[edit]