Green Lung and Biodiversity in Mumbai!
The other day one of my friends , who is also a nature photographer, called me and said that he was coming to Mumbai for the first time and wanted to know about budget hotels in Mumbai or maybe 3 star hotels in Mumbai and also if opportunities existed for nature photography!
The first imagery that one visualizes when someone mentions Mumbai is that of an expensive concrete jungle, with its immense population bustling with activity. People come to Mumbai from all parts of India with a point agenda that is to make it big, be it in Bollywood or financial sector or business. Not for nothing it is called the financial capital of India.
With so much focus on work and money one wonders if the people have any time to relax at all. Even if yes then where? Most of the city is just one continuous urban area. However there are huge patches of Greenery in Mumbai which are quite accessible.
I suggested, yes, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Also called Borivali National park is a huge forest area spanning over 100 SqKm. Although the park is protected, there are several villages situated within its boundaries and access is easy. Access is from the western express road in Borivali and there is a nominal entry fee. The whole area is rich in flora and fauna. The villagers say there are plants which flower only once in 7 years.
There is a small population of Leopards and other predators, but it I highly unlikely you will spot them because of the large number of visitors everyday. It is however highly likely that one may see spotted deers, barking deers, porcupines, monkeys, countless types of birds, butterflies and such, the deeper you go , better the chance. In fact in the early morning when gates open , you will see a surge of people wanting to enter to go for a walk or a jog inside the park.
One may explore the park on foot by taking several walking trails or take own vehicle and drive right upto the 2000 years old Kanheri caves, where the monolithic caves and temples carved by early Buddhists greet you. It is said the way through this jungle was once used by travellers and monks. The hills were called Krishnagiri which over a period of time became Kanheri.
Please be informed that there may not be too many signs to help you. So it is best to keep to well-travelled trails. The more adventurous can walk upto the View Point, perhaps the highest point in Mumbai.
Boating is another attraction for those who wish to spend leisurely time.
There is also a so called Tiger and Lion Safari. It is best avoided since I sincerely believe the animals you see are drugged.
One may need more than a couple of visits to explore this area. In fact Aarey Colony and Thane Yeoor Hills are connected to SGNP seamlessly which makes it probably the biggest Green Patch of any of the metro cities of India. I hope, with a visit to SGNP and stay at any of these cheap hotels in Mumbai, my friend has a pleasant stay.