This less-than-alluringly named national park is a unique thing: a bona fide forest, replete with endemic flora and fauna, smack bang in the middle of the country’s busiest, most cramped city. Once occupying a diminutive 20sqkm area and known as the Krishnagiri National Park early in the previous century, the park was expanded several decades later, and renamed the Borivali National Park. Renamed yet again in 1981, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park now sprawls across more than 100 sq km, occupying some 20 per cent of Mumbai’s land area.
The park is part of the Western Ghats biodiversity complex and is home to an estimated 1,300 species of flowering plants and a large number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. Leopards are a fairly frequent sighting at the park—and outside it too, as the human residents of the surrounding neighbourhood recount. A natural wonder, SGNP is also a site of considerable historical importance—the beautiful eighth- and ninth-century Buddhist Kanheri Caves are located here.