I looked up in Wikipedia for the sake of this blog – Sanjay Gandhi National Park extends over 104 sq km in the suburbs of Mumbai. That’s massive massive real estate if you multiply it with the present going rate. Won’t be surprised if the notorious realtors of Mumbai have ‘pocketing the park’ as their ultimate goal. Remains to be seen, in what time they convert this green jungle into a concrete one.
But for now, it is truly, unbelievably green. By Mumbai standards. Sanjay Gandhi National Park had been in our radar for over six year now, but we somehow never made it to here. Blame it on our reluctance to go up North. And had it not been for our photographer friend, Mukesh Trivedi, we wouldn’t have gone there last Sunday too. But Mukesh called up mid-week, enticed me with the prospect of good photos and a blog story, quelled my ‘snakes and lizards’ fears and got us excited about the park. And he said something unusual – Pray that it rains, the sights will be even more beautiful. I was sceptical. For, we had recently returned from a rain-filled, cloudy tour of UK and France. Won’t the camera get wet? But I realised I was questioning an ace photographer.
And so we had a quick brunch last Sunday and waited for Mukesh to call. He did. At 12.30 pm. And we set out with our rain gear, camera and some snacks. Quite sure that it would be a 2-3 hour affair, we didn’t much bother about food. Big mistake. For once you reach the park, there is no knowing when you will be out.
We were joined by Mukesh’s good friends Jagatdeep Singh, a Times of India photographer, Shadab Sheikh and Manu, both budding photographers. And as Mukesh and JD taught us some mean camera tricks, we spent an entire Sunday afternoon walking, driving, trekking, stopping, gaping, marveling at the natural life in the park. Trees, streams, swamps, monkeys, muddy pathways – Ah, was this inside ‘Maximum City’?
Weekends do get way too crowded here, but that’s Mumbai – crowded and a leveler. You will find a Merc jostling with a bicycle in this land. Sanjay Gandhi National Park is no different – there was every class, age, type of people. And since there had been no sign of rain the whole day, more and more people kept flocking in until much after 4 pm. Key is to come here as soon as the park opens. Perhaps only then can you beat the crowd and find the much elusive quiet.
Needless to say that we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. These pictures are proof enough. What’s amazing is that we didn’t even go for the Lion or Tiger safari. We will go there again for this, some day. For now we were happy just looking around. And then of course, we went to the Kanheri caves. But that will be another blog. For now, I leave you pictures from that happy afternoon.
PS: Sanjay Gandhi National Park is in Borivali. You can’t miss the boards; hence, it is easy to find. Carry your own snacks/fruits when you come here, for there’s nothing inside other that a few park-keepers selling cucumbers and raw mangoes. But remember to also carry your own bin bags to take back the empty plastic packets and bottles. We love nature after all, don’t we?