Sunday, June 4, 2023

Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Sanjay Gandhi National Park UPSC (Borivali National Park)

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, formerly known as Borivali National Park, is a large protected area located in the northern part of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It is one of the most visited national parks in Asia, attracting thousands of visitors each year. 


One of the prominent attractions within the park is the Kanheri Caves, a group of Buddhist rock-cut caves dating back to the 1st century BCE to 10th century CE. These caves served as a Buddhist monastery and center for learning and meditation.


The Sanjay Gandhi National Park plays a crucial role in preserving Mumbai's biodiversity and acts as a green lung for the city, providing a much-needed respite from the urban environment. It is managed by the Forest Department of Maharashtra and is an important conservation area for many endangered species.


Table of Contents

  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park Location
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park History
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park Area
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park River
    • Dahisar River
    • Mithi River
    • Poisar River
    • Oshiwara River
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park Lake
    • Tulsi Lake
    • Vihar Lake
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park Flora
    • Moist Deciduous Forests
    • Semi-Evergreen Forests
    • Bamboo
    • Grasslands
    • Aquatic Plants
    • Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
    • Epiphytic Plants
  • Mass flowering of Karvi
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptiles
  • Top Things to do in Sanjay Gandhi National Park
  • Kanheri Caves
  • Trimurti Temple
  • Sanjay Gandhi National Park UPSC Questions


Sanjay Gandhi National Park Location

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located in the northern part of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It is situated within the limits of the Mumbai suburban district and spans across the northern suburbs of Borivali and Dahisar. 


The park is easily accessible from different parts of Mumbai and is approximately 40 kilometers (25 miles) away from the city center.


Sanjay Gandhi National Park Nearest Airport:

The nearest domestic and international airport from Sanjay Gandhi National Park is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Santa Cruz, Mumbai.


Sanjay Gandhi National Park Nearest Railway Station:

The nearest railway station is Borivali railway station.




Sanjay Gandhi National Park History

Sanjay Gandhi National Park, previously known as Borivali National Park, has a rich history that dates back centuries. Here is an overview of its history:


Ancient Period: The area surrounding the park has a long history of human habitation. The Kanheri Caves, located within the park, provide evidence of Buddhist settlements dating back to the 1st century BCE to the 10th century CE. These rock-cut caves served as a center for Buddhist learning and meditation.


Colonial Era: During the British colonial rule in India, the forested area of what is now Sanjay Gandhi National Park was used for timber production and hunting. The British administration recognized its ecological value and declared it a protected forest in the late 19th century.


Post-Independence: After India gained independence in 1947, efforts were made to further conserve the forested area. In 1969, it was officially established as Borivali National Park, named after the suburb in which it is located. 


Renamed: In 1996, The Borivali National Park was renamed after Sanjay Gandhi, the son of the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.


Development and Recognition: Over the years, the park underwent development and infrastructure improvements to accommodate visitors and provide recreational activities while preserving its natural beauty. 




Sanjay Gandhi National Park Area

Sanjay Gandhi National Park covers an area of approximately 87 square kilometers (34 square miles). It is one of the largest national parks located within city limits in the world. The park extends across the northern suburbs of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, primarily in the Borivali and Dahisar areas. It forms roughly 20.5% of Mumbai’s geographical area.


The expansive area of the park encompasses various ecosystems, including dense forests, grasslands, rocky outcrops, and freshwater bodies. It provides a significant green space and natural habitat amidst the urban environment of Mumbai, acting as a vital lung for the city.




Sanjay Gandhi National Park River

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is traversed by several rivers and streams that contribute to its ecological diversity and provide a water source for the park's flora and fauna. The main river that flows through the Sanjay Gandhi National Park are Dahisar, Mithi, Poisar and Oshiwara.


(1) Dahisar River:

The Dahisar River originates in the Tulsi Lake in Sanjay Gandhi National Park and flows through the national park before eventually joining the Vasai Creek, which then opens into the Arabian Sea. The River flows for a total of 12 kilometres.


The river acts as a lifeline for the park, supporting the growth of vegetation and sustaining the wildlife. The presence of the Dahisar River creates a unique ecosystem within the park, attracting various bird species and other aquatic life. It is also responsible for the formation of wetlands and marshy areas along its course, which further enhance the biodiversity of the park.


(2) Mithi River:

The Mithi River, also known as the Mahim River, is another important river in Mumbai. It originates from the Vihar Lake, which is located within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The river flows through the eastern suburbs of Mumbai and passes through densely populated areas before eventually reaching the Arabian Sea. The Mithi River has been a focal point for environmental conservation efforts due to pollution concerns and flooding issues.


(3) Poisar River: 

The Poisar River is a significant river in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It originates near the Tulsi Lake in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and flows through the northern suburbs of Mumbai before merging with the Mithi River. The river plays a crucial role in draining excess rainwater from the surrounding areas and is prone to flooding during the monsoon season.


(4) Oshiwara River: 

The Oshiwara River, also known as the Oshiwara Nullah, is a small river in Mumbai that originates in the Aarey Milk Colony and flows through the western suburbs. It passes through the areas of Goregaon and Jogeshwari before finally emptying into the Arabian Sea. The Oshiwara River has also faced challenges such as pollution and encroachment along its course.




Sanjay Gandhi National Park Lake

Sanjay Gandhi National Park features several lakes and reservoirs within its boundaries. These water bodies contribute to the park's ecological balance and provide habitats for various species of flora and fauna. 


Here are some of the prominent lakes in Sanjay Gandhi National Park:


(1) Tulsi Lake:

Tulsi Lake is one of the major lakes located within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. It is a freshwater lake that serves as one of Mumbai's important sources of drinking water. The lake is surrounded by dense forested hills and offers a picturesque setting.


(2) Vihar Lake: 

Vihar Lake is another significant lake within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Like Tulsi Lake, it is also a freshwater lake that supplies drinking water to Mumbai. Vihar Lake is nestled amidst the lush greenery of the park and adds to its natural beauty.


These lakes not only contribute to the water supply but also support the park's biodiversity. They attract various bird species, including migratory birds, making them ideal spots for bird watching. The lakes also provide opportunities for boating and other recreational activities, allowing visitors to enjoy the serene ambiance of the national park.




Sanjay Gandhi National Park Flora

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is renowned for its rich and diverse flora. The park encompasses a variety of ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, and wetlands, which support a wide range of plant species. 


Here are some of the notable flora found in the national park:


(1) Moist Deciduous Forests:

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park features moist deciduous forests dominated by trees such as teak (Tectona grandis), ain (Terminalia elliptica), shisam (Dalbergia sissoo), kulu (Sterculia urens), and kadamba (Neolamarckia cadamba). These forests are characterized by their lush green foliage and provide a habitat for several animal species.


(2) Semi-Evergreen Forests: 

Semi-evergreen forests are found in parts of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. They consist of trees like Indian gum arabic (Acacia nilotica), black cutch (Acacia catechu), Indian kino tree (Pterocarpus marsupium), and Indian beech (Pongamia pinnata). These forests exhibit a mix of evergreen and deciduous characteristics.


(3) Bamboo:

Bamboo is indeed quite widespread in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, particularly in the lower-lying areas. Bamboo is a type of grass that belongs to the family Poaceae and is known for its rapid growth and versatility. In the park, the most common species of bamboo is Dendrocalamus strictus, also known as "Male Bamboo" or "Bans." This species of bamboo grows abundantly in the lower regions of the park, where the soil and moisture conditions are suitable for its growth.


(4) Grasslands: 

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park has extensive grassland areas, which are vital for supporting a diverse range of plant life. Species such as elephant grass (Saccharum spontaneum), Cynodon dactylon (common Bermuda grass), and Imperata cylindrica (cogon grass) are commonly found in these grasslands.


(5) Aquatic Plants:

The lakes and water bodies within the Sanjay Gandhi National Park are home to various aquatic plants, including water lilies, lotus, and various submerged plants like Vallisneria and Hydrilla.


(6) Medicinal and Aromatic Plants:

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is also known for its rich collection of medicinal and aromatic plants. Several species with medicinal properties, such as Acorus calamus (sweet flag), Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng), and Asparagus racemosus (shatavari), can be found in the park.


(7) Epiphytic Plants:

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park's trees host a variety of epiphytic plants, including ferns, orchids, and mosses, which thrive in the moist and shaded environment provided by the forest canopy.



Mass flowering of Karvi

The Karvi (Strobilanthes callosa) is a shrub native to the Western Ghats region of India, including areas within and around Sanjay Gandhi National Park. One of the most remarkable phenomena associated with the Karvi plant is its mass flowering event, which occurs at irregular intervals of around 7 to 8 years.


During the mass flowering event, a large number of Karvi plants simultaneously bloom, covering the landscape in a vibrant display of purple flowers. The flowering period typically lasts for a few weeks, attracting numerous pollinators such as butterflies, bees, and other insects. The Karvi plant relies on these pollinators to facilitate cross-pollination and ensure successful reproduction.


The mass flowering of Karvi is a spectacular sight and draws nature enthusiasts, researchers, and visitors who want to witness this unique phenomenon. It is a testament to the ecological rhythms and cycles that exist in the natural world.


The last mass flowering event of Karvi in Sanjay Gandhi National Park occurred in 2016 and it is scheduled to bloom here again in late August-early October 2024.


However, it's important to note that the timing and intensity of mass flowering events can vary depending on various environmental factors, including rainfall, temperature, and other ecological conditions. 




Sanjay Gandhi National Park Fauna (Sanjay Gandhi National Park Animals)

Which animals are there in Sanjay Gandhi National Park?/Sanjay Gandhi National Park is famous for which animal?

Sanjay Gandhi National Park is home to a diverse range of fauna, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. The park's varied habitats, which include forests, grasslands, and water bodies, support a wide array of animal species. 


Here are some of the notable fauna found in Sanjay Gandhi National Park:


Mammals:

  • Leopard
  • Spotted Deer
  • Sambhar
  • Barking Deer
  • Four-horned Antelope 
  • Mouse Deer
  • Black-naped Hare 
  • Porcupine
  • Palm Civet
  • Striped Hyena
  • Rhesus Macaque
  • Bonnet Macaque
  • Hanuman langur (leaf monkey)
  • Indian Flying Fox


Birds:

  • Tickell's Flowerpecker 
  • White-bellied Sea Eagle
  • Paradise Flycatcher
  • Trogon
  • Kingfishers
  • Woodpeckers
  • Brown-headed Barbet
  • Parakeets
  • Racket-tailed Drongo
  • Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher
  • Malabar Whistling Thrush 
  • Spotted Babbler


Reptiles:

  • Crocodiles in Tulsi Lake 
  • Monitor Lizards
  • Pythons
  • Cobras
  • Russell's Viper
  • Bamboo-pit Viper 




Top Things to do in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (What to do in Sanjay Gandhi National Park?)

Sanjay Gandhi National Park offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some top things to do in the park:


  • Visit the Kanheri Caves
  • Wildlife Safari
  • Trekking and Hiking
  • Visit the Nature Interpretation Centre
  • Boating at Tulsi Lake
  • Butterfly Park
  • Picnicking and Nature Walks




Kanheri Caves

The Kanheri Caves are a significant historical and archaeological site located within the premises of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. These ancient rock-cut caves date back to the 1st century BC and were a prominent Buddhist center during that time.


Here are some key features and things to know about the Kanheri Caves:


Buddhist Monastic Complex: The Kanheri Caves comprise a complex of 110 caves, carved out of the basaltic rock hills. These caves served as a Buddhist monastery or vihara where monks resided and practiced their religious rituals.


Architectural Marvels: The caves showcase remarkable craftsmanship and architectural features. They vary in size and purpose, ranging from simple cells to larger halls, prayer rooms, and chaitya halls (prayer halls).


Buddhist Art and Sculptures: Inside the caves, you will find numerous sculptures, carvings, and inscriptions related to Buddhism. These include depictions of Buddha, bodhisattvas, lotus symbols, and various other Buddhist motifs.


Vihara Layout: The caves are organized into different groups or clusters, each with its own specific function. Some caves served as living quarters for the monks, while others functioned as assembly halls or study rooms.


Water Management: The Kanheri Caves exhibit an impressive ancient water management system. They feature channels, cisterns, and tanks carved into the rock, demonstrating the efficient utilization and conservation of water.


Natural Surroundings: The caves are nestled amidst the lush greenery and natural beauty of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. As you explore the site, you can enjoy the scenic views of the surrounding hills and forests.




Trimurti Temple

The Trimurti Temple, also known as the Trimurti Digambar Jain Mandir, is a famous religious site located within the premises of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. It is a significant place of worship for the Digambara sect of Jainism.


Here are some key features and information about the Trimurti Temple:


Jain Tirthankara Statues: The Trimurti Temple is dedicated to the three Jain Tirthankaras (spiritual leaders) - Lord Adinath (also known as Lord Rishabhdev), Lord Shantinath, and Lord Parshvanath. The temple houses large statues of these Tirthankaras, which are the main focus of worship.


Idols and Decorations: The idols of the Tirthankaras are intricately carved and beautifully adorned. They are made of marble and placed in separate sanctums within the temple complex. The idols are worshipped and revered by Jain devotees.


Serene Setting: The Trimurti Temple is located amidst the serene natural surroundings of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The lush greenery and peaceful ambiance add to the spiritual experience for visitors.


Jain Festivals and Rituals: The temple hosts various Jain festivals and important religious events throughout the year. Devotees gather to participate in prayers, religious ceremonies, and cultural programs during these occasions.


Digambara Sect of Jainism: The temple follows the Digambara tradition of Jainism, which believes in the practice of nudity as a symbol of renunciation. The Tirthankara statues within the temple are depicted without any clothing, representing the concept of absolute detachment from worldly possessions.


Visitor Facilities: The temple complex offers basic amenities for visitors, including parking facilities and restrooms. Devotees and visitors are expected to adhere to the guidelines and customs followed by the Jain community.




Sanjay Gandhi National Park UPSC Questions

Q. Which national park was renamed as Sanjay Gandhi National Park?

A. Borivali National Park was renamed as Sanjay Gandhi National Park.


Q. What is the importance of Sanjay Gandhi National Park?/What is Sanjay Gandhi National Park famous for?

A. Sanjay Gandhi National Park holds significant importance for various reasons:

  • Biodiversity Conservation
  • Urban Green Lung
  • Water Catchment Area
  • Historical and Archaeological Importance
  • Educational and Research Value
  • Eco-Tourism and Recreation
  • Environmental Awareness and Conservation


Q. Which river passes through Sanjay Gandhi National Park?

A. Dahisar, Mithi, Poisar and Oshiwara river passes through Sanjay Gandhi National Park.


Q. What is Sanjay National Park also known as?

A. Sanjay National Park is also known as Borivali National Park.


Q. Where is Sanjay Gandhi National Park?/ Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located in which state?

A. Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located in the northern part of Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.


Q. How big is Sanjay Gandhi National Park?

A. Sanjay Gandhi National Park covers an area of approximately 87 square kilometers (34 square miles).


Q. How many leopards in Sanjay Gandhi National Park?

A. Sanjay Gandhi National Park is home to around 47 leopards.

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