Sanjay Gandhi National Park {SGNP} is like New York city’s Central Park but for Mumbai – except it’s not really in the centre {it’s a suburban gold mine} but works the same way – it provides Mumbai the green space it badly needs. Though a very popular destination in the city, residents and tourists are often unaware of the plethora of activities that regularly take place here. Here’s our beginner’s guide to exploring SGNP and what all must be on your itinerary – for a day well spent at SGNP.

Lion and Tiger Safaris

SGNP isn’t just known for its greenery, wild trails and caves. It’s one of the protected national parks in India and host to tigers, lions and a bunch of other wildlife which is very rare and specific to SGNP. You can take a mini jungle safari in a closed jeep, or a caged bus {that’s right, why should animals be caged?} and check out tigers and lions sprawling on the fields of jungle. It’s quite a surreal moment especially since they also host a white tiger. Safari in a jungle in the middle of the city? Sign us up.

#LBBTip: The queue to buy the tickets on the spot may take up to almost one hour on a weekend, so we suggest you book them online here.

Timings: 9am to 12.30pm , 2pm to 4.30pm

Price: Adult INR 44, Child INR 23; Video Shooting fee INR 1050/day

Go On A Trek

Photo courtesy: Shruti Maheshwari

Photo courtesy: Shruti Maheshwari

SGNP also offers some spectacular treks and nature trails that you can embark on. The park has a lot of natural trails and treks that happen here regularly – in groups, or by solo trekkers. One of the most popular trek is the one from the main gate to Kanheri caves (it’s a 7km trail}.

There are also at least 50 kinds of butterflies that can be spotted here. So if you’re really into educating yourself about the flora and fauna of this park, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), the country’s leading conservation NGO, organises historical nature walks regularly. To stay on top of these walks, go here.

In fact, SGNP itself organises a lot of walks and workshops and talks. You can find more information here.

Go Cycling

If you’ve been looking to cycle, and don’t really know what area/ roads to take, you can always  cycle to Kanheri caves or through the SGNP itself. Though we recommend, if you want  a good route, start of your journey from Aarey Milk Colony , preferably as early as possible. Cross the Powai lake to get on to the Western Express Highway that leads to the national park. There are a lot of cycling groups that go cycling there. If you want more info on the groups, check Mumbai Cycling Group on Facebook that posts regularly updates about cycle trails, or meet up with other cycling enthusiasts.

Row A Boat

After you enter the main gate, there’s also a small lake that has boats moored onto the side. If you’re in the mood for some peaceful time, take a boat and peddle away your city worries. The lake is a major attraction for the families and kids, but if you’re in the mood for a romantic lake getaway with your partner, we say go for it.

Timings: 9am to 12.30pm, 1.30pm to 5.30

Price: Paddle boat for two INR 44 , Paddle boat for four INR 88

Book online here.

Ride The Queen’s Toy Train

Photo source: Mohit S via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Photo source: Mohit S via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

Now you don’t have to go all the way to Darjeeling to experience a toy train ride, just head to SGNP. Van Rani which literally translates to the ‘Queen of the jungle’, is a cutesy toy train painted in bright yellow colours. It takes you through the park so you can see the lushness of the trees and the green carpeted jungle. It starts from the Krishnagiri station, goes to Teen Murthi and then back to the Krishnagiri.

#LBBTip: Be smart and skip the long queues and buy the tickets here.

Price: Adults INR 37, Child INR 14

Explore The Beautiful Kanheri Caves

Photo source: SGNP

Photo source: SGNP

Deep inside the park, are the beautiful ancient Buddhist caves, Kanheri Caves. These caves provide a rich Buddhist history – from the carvings on the wall to the beautiful statues and tombs that still stand there. Here’s our guide to exploring Kanheri Caves – perfect for a trek or a cultural exploration sort of  a day.

#LBBTip: SGNP is closed on Mondays.

Other photos source: SGNP