As the festival of lights illuminated the entire country, I spent my Diwali evening at Nariman Point listening to hubbub caused by the crowd and watching the crackers lighting up the Queens necklace.
So Saturday morning, I decided to sneak out from this fast life of Mumbai city to steal few moments of quiet introspection. The dew drops welcomed me as I started my journey in Virar fast local train listening to my all-time favorite MLTR songs. The climate was pleasant and there was hardly any crowd in the train. One can only dream of an empty Virar fast local train which is generally jam-packed with people and is literally over-flowing with people. But such dreams do come true few minutes before the sunrise!
How many metropolitans of the world have a forest or a national park located within the city limits?? Well Mumbai, the financial capital of the country and the city of dreams has a National Park situated within the city limits. The Sanjay Gandhi National park offers serenity with enchanting greenery. As the mist settles in, the natural enhancer to the beauty in the national park helps to bring down the temperature by atleast 2-3 degrees.
The park is known for its dense forests, vast bird life, butterflies, and wild animals. The park also encompasses the famous Kanheri Caves which date back to 1st century BC and are believed to be one of the oldest cave formations of the country.
You can spot a lion, a white tiger, a yellow tiger, leopards (if you are extremely lucky) and deer if you choose to go for a Safari. The Safari starts at 9:00 a.m. and the mini bus takes you for the Safari. I decided to take last seat to the left of the bus because all the animal enclosures are situated on the left of the Safari path. I had a relatively up-close encounter with the lion who was about 10 feet away from my bus and the only thing which separated me from the lion was the bus window. The tigers were however in an enclosure although again not too far away from the bus. It is said that Tiger attacks have claimed more human lives than attacks by any of the other big cats.
Once out of the Safari, while you see nature lovers walking on one side of the pavement, on the other side you will spot many Monkeys going about their business. Baby Monkeys clinging to their mother and other family members jumping around… you can feed the monkeys if you have some nuts or fruits.
Mumbai as a city has so many contrasts and it was a pleasant little trip to the forests.
Cheers – Lubna