Do you know that Mumbai is a home to the world’s second largest urban park? If no, you have to read this.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is a large protected area in the northern part of Mumbai. It encompasses an area of 104 km2 and is surrounded on three sides by India’s most populous city. The rich flora and fauna of this urban park attracts more than 2 million visitors every year. Tourists also enjoy visiting the 2400-year-old Kanheri caves sculpted out of the rocky cliffs which lie within the park.
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 and 40 species of mammals.
In addition, the park also provides shelter to 38 species of reptiles, 9 species of amphibians, 150 species of butterflies and a large variety of fish.
The park has faced a number of similar problems to those faced by national parks elsewhere in the world, involving conflicts between natural and human interests.
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.
The park also features a toy-train that runs on a narrow gauge railway. The toy train ran for around twenty-five years. I still remember going there once a month as a young child.
This urban park is home to a large population of forest-dwelling tribal communities. They face man-animal conflict but they don’t budge out due to their ancient connect with the jungle.
This big patch of green not only helps us city folks breathe a bit easy but also give some much-needed quiet from the chaos of city life. For travelers, even a short trip to this oasis of green gives much-needed respite from the noise and crowds that they are constantly bombarded within the concrete jungle.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park is Mumbai’s own little weekend getaway that you can enjoy without ever leaving the city!