Hemmed in by crowded neighbourhoods, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is a unique wilderness zone. The 103 sq km park is shared by Mumbai and neighbouring Thane. The main entrance lies through the Borivali neighbourhood on Mumbai’s northern fringe. Lying within the national park (https://sgnp.maharashtra.gov.in) are several nature trails that are home to many smaller fauna, including birds, butterflies and other insects. In the heart of the forest lies the Kanheri Caves, which were chiselled out of basalt rock outcrops by Buddhist monks between the first and ninth centuries CE. During monsoon, small streams dot the landscape, which makes a hike inside the park doubly fun.
There are several popular trails inside the park. The Shilonda Trail covers the northern end of the park while the Malad Trail runs along the western edge of the park. The Kanheri/Upper Trail requires moderate uphill trek. The BambooHut/Gaumukh Trail is popular with birders. From here, one can continue up the hill to the Highest Point, from where you can catch a panoramic view of SGNP and the Tulsi, Vihar and Powai lakes. Entry to the Nagla Block lies though Thane. To visit the trails, prior permission is necessary, for which you have to contact the Nature Information Centre (email: email@example.com; tel: 022-28847800) near the main entrance to SGNP.
Other attractions inside SGNP include Lion Safari, Boating, and Toy Train ride. Book online advance tickets to beat the queue. SGNP is open between 7.30am and 6.30pm every day. However, all facilities remain closed on Mondays. Booking of tickets for most services, including parking, available online (https://sgnp.mahaonline.gov.in/) but have to be validated at the park entrance. Safaris, toy train rides and boating start from 9.30 am. While the last toy train ride and boating is at 5.30pm, the last safari is at 4.30pm. But timings may change depending on the season and crowd size.
One of the popular trails inside the park is the Shilonda Trail, a moderately easy walk along the forest floor, through bamboo groves and hilly streams. BNHS-India (http://bnhs.org; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) holds regular walks along this trail. They have one walk scheduled on July 9 and another on August 6, 2017. Participation fee (which includes Forest Department permission fees and the services of a trained naturalist) is â‚¹200 for members and â‚¹300 for non-members. Participants have to buy their park entry tickets (buy online to avoid queues). The BNHS walk usually starts at 7.30 and takes around three hours to complete. Carry rain gear, drinking water and light breakfast.