A Guide To Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai

Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Malavika
Malavika
Published

The gorgeously lush Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) happens to be the largest tropical forest in the world that’s surrounded by urban sprawl - and that too, in a city teeming with people, Mumbai. As you step inside this verdant space, it’s hard to imagine that it lies smack dab in the middle of the urban development. Right from leopards and tigers to unique birds, SGNP is brimming with a wide range of flora and fauna. It’s also home to the Kanheri Caves, which is a cluster of monastic structures and dwellings dating back to the first century BC, Vihar Lake and Shilonda waterfalls. While the outer areas near the information center are accessible to the general public, trekking within the protected core requires prior permission. So, without further ado, check out this useful guide to Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai.

1. Things to do / Highlights

Kaneri Cave, Mumbai, Maharashtra(3)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sanket Suresh Rane used under CC BY-SA 3.0

With SGNP being the only national park within city limits in India, it makes for an extremely alluring destination for outdoors enthusiasts. If you want to learn more about wildlife, then do visit the Nature Information Center at the entrance. It not only arranges a gamut of activities but also has a butterfly garden that’s very popular.

Explore cultural sites

If you’re a culture lover, then you’ll love the majestic Kanheri Buddhist Caves. They’ve been painfully hand-carved from volcanic rock and are peppered over the hillside. Of them all, Cave three is the most impressive and magnificent. Not only does it have one of India’s biggest prayer halls, but it also possesses the largest number of intact carvings, which include two striking statues of Buddha. Continue to the top of the hill for spectacular panoramas of Mumbai. You can also explore the temples inside the park. The Mahadev Shiva Temple is a must-visit, as is the Trimurti Digambar Jain temple, which has three towering white statues.

Go on a hike

There are not one or two, but seven nature trails within the core area of SGNP, each with different levels of difficulty and length. However, the only nature trail that do not need a guide to accompany or advance booking is the lesser-known Nagla Block trail. Despite being located in its remote northern corner, it’s considered as SGNP’s best trail by nature connoisseurs. The trail’s entrance is at Sasupada village, where you need to pay an entry fee at the Forest Office, and ends on the banks of Vasai Creek.

Other activities

If you’re travelling with children, then they’re guaranteed to have lots of fun onboard the toy train known as Forest Queen or Vanrani. It’ll take you on a picturesque 20-minute joyride around the park. You and your family can even go paddle boating on Vihar Lake. Tickets for both activities are available at the visitor center at the entrance.

Although many people will advise you to go on the tiger and lion safari, the animals are kept in enclosures. So, we wouldn’t recommend it.

2. Travel tips

Green pathway
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aalokmjoshi used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Timings and management

SGNP opens as early as 5:30 am for walkers. So, try and come as early as you can and try spending a full day here. Moreover, all tourist attractions (except Kanheri Caves) are closed between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm for lunch. Directions are in the local state language Marathi, and there aren’t any brochures, so you’re pretty much on your own. Although there’s a canteen with a basic vegetarian menu, we’d advise you to bring your own food, although bottled water is available. Also, you need to pay refundable security for bringing plastic items inside the park.

Traveling within the park

Just half a km before the park entrance, you’ll find Harry’s Bicycle Rental Shop from where you can hire bicycles. There’s a separate refundable deposit as well, and you’ll need to provide a valid photo ID, too. Weekends will require you to wait a while since demand is higher.

Don't venture off-road

Since most of the park is a protected area, there’s a fine of 25,000 INR (337 USD) if you’re found venturing off-road within these areas. If you want to indulge in a nature walk, then a booking need to be made at the Nature Information Center in the park a few days in advance. The charge for the same is anywhere between 75 and 300 INR (1 - 4 USD), depending on which trail you want to head to. Finally, you also need to pay anywhere between 400 and 1,000 INR (5 - 14 USD) for the naturalist.

3. How to get there

Sanjay Gandhi National Park Borivali
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Shreesh Deshpande used under CC BY-SA 4.0

By taxi/car

The entrance to Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located in the suburb of Borivali, on the Western Express Highway. Since private vehicles, including bicycles, can be taken within, we’d recommend getting your own vehicle. That said, you can also come here by an app-based taxi like Ola or Uber or a regular black-and-yellow taxi.

By rickshaw

One of the easiest ways to get to SGNP is by rickshaw, especially if you live close by and don’t have your own transport.

By bicycle

If you’re staying close by, then simply pack a picnic basket and head to the park at your own pace. The entry cost of a bicycle is about 0.30 USD.

By bus

Since the park lies right on the highway, it lies on the route of many of the local BEST buses. So, you can even take a bus to the park and get off right at the entrance.

By local train

If you’re coming by train, then the nearest station is on the Western Line is Borivali. Get down at Borivali East and take a rickshaw, taxi, or bus from there to reach the park.

4. How to get tickets

Trimurti temple
Source: Photo by Flickr user Marco Zanferrari used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Day tickets

Sanjay Gandhi National Park opens as early 7:30 am for day visitors. While kids less than 5 years old can enter for free, day tickets cost 34 INR (0.46 USD) for children between 5 and 12 years. For those aged 12 years and more, the day tickets cost 64 INR (0.86 USD). You can get your tickets from the official website

Attraction tickets

For Kanheri Caves, the tickets are to be purchased from the ticket office near the cave entrance, around 4 mi (7 km) within the park. The price of the ticket is INR 25 (0.34 USD) for Indians and INR 300 (4 USD) for non-Indians. Ticket cost for the Vanrani toy train is 21 INR (0.28 USD) for children, and 55 INR (0.74 USD) for adults. Paddle boating on the Vihar Lake costs 64 INR (0.86 USD) for two people and 130 INR (1.75 USD) for four people.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park information

A monkey sitting on top of a boulder at Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Arijit Patra used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Address: Western Express Hwy, Borivali East, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400066

Opening hours: 7:30am - 6:30pm (daily)

Official website: Sanjay Gandhi National Park

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Freelance writer. Coffee-lover. An expert at Kopfkino. Loves discussing New Zealand, domino theory, dystopian fiction, & Harry Potter.

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