Monsoon Magic Walk (Kanheri Upper Trail)
“The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.”
― Charles Darwin
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park area has a long history back to the 4th century BC and was named ‘Krishnagiri National Park’ in the pre-independence era, followed by Borivali National Park. In 1981, it was renamed ‘Sanjay Gandhi National Park’ and now is commonly referred to as SGNP.
It spreads over 103 sq.km. in the core of Mumbai city which holds a crowd of 20 million people and at the same time is home to more than 274 species of birds, 35 species of mammals, 78 species of reptiles and amphibians, 170 species of butterflies and over a staggering 1,300 species of plants. In short, the last Green lung of Mumbai.
The famous Vihar (1860) and Tulsi (1868) Lakes constructed in the 19th Century are located within the forests of SGNP that supply potable water to our city.
The Kanheri Caves is a protected archeological site (2000 yr. old) sculpted by Buddhist monks. I did manage to see some monks with many other tourists’ visitng the Kanheri Caves during the walk.
The National Park consists of many trails, the route taken this time was the Kanheri Upper Trail.
Kanheri/ Upper Trail
This trail provided us areas for exploring natural habitats during monsoons with evergreen forests and is land to diverse organisms, especially birds and insects. This hike took us along a rocky edge of the mountain into a green open space. The sudden view from here is enough to surprise anyone with its beauty. We crossed a small stream along the way, dipping our feet in cool waters, and finally after a short climb, we reached the top of Kanheri Caves. Our guide for the walk held on 21st August 2016 was Dr. Parvish Pandya, an experienced professor in Zoology at Bhavan’s College, Andheri.
SGNP is known for its fauna, especially its leopards that live in close proximity with humans. An exhaustive list of the fauna found in the National Park, is mentioned on the SGNP website.
SGNP’s biodiversity is greatly influenced by the Sahyadri Hills to the east, and effects of human impact bringing in numerous species have affected the survival of the native species.
Coming to the topmost reason for this walk, is the speciality of this year’s monsoons for SGNP.
The park is known for its Karvi blooms. Karvi (Strobilanthes callosa) is a widespread shrub that constitutes the understorey of vast stretches of the forest here; observed as dry stalks during summer, is most flamboyant when it blooms once after every seven years. The rich purplish flowers, in their millions, erupt during late-July and early-October of the flowering years and attract much faunal life, from insects to birds, mammals and herpetofauna.
My favourite colour is purple and so this felt like walking in a fairy land with blooms. My Sunday was well spent. No crowd, no pollution, just greenery around is what we long for. It got me to learn about the beauty in our own neighbourhood, in Mumbai.
I continue to look forward to this moment of the blooms seven years later………