borivali national park: the upper kanheri trail
it started with the first visit to the sanjay gandhi national park or borivali national park with two others. the first time we went, we were amazed that we lived so close to such a large track of nature, and hadn’t explored it for so many years!
in the urge to share, last weekend, i smses many friends and so did aurla… we were headed back on saturday for the upper kanheri trail, the guide was booked, permission got and we wanted more people to join. out of all the people who said yes during the week, by friday night we had ‘no, not this time’, ‘going to play paintball’, ‘partied last night, need to sleep’ and silence…
that left me shrugging my shoulders. and i’d missed out on the borivali national park for the 7 years i have been in bombay, but now that i am awake to it, i want everyone to also join in!
so to all of you who didn’t come, here is a post to tell you what you missed
the nature centre manager informed me that there are two trails – the upper kanheri and the lower kanheri. upper was a little more of a challenge, so we decided to take the upper!
the two enthu-cutlets woke up at 6.45am on a sat, and reached kanheri national park by 8. the californian who comes from churchgate woke up at 6am i suspect, caught the train and was there before we chandivali folks reached!
we picked up our guide for the day, ganesh naik, a MSc Zoology student and made our way to the kanheri caves. the caves are situated around 5 – 6 kms from the main gate, so you either need your own transport or need to hop onto the bus that goes from borivali station right to kanheri – think it was 188 or 184…
there was a small parking for cars and other vehicles. so we left the car there, got ready with bags and camera and umbrellas and raincoats and got cracking on our ‘upper trail walk’. we wondering if it would be too tough, given our sad levels of fitness – ‘upper’ sounded like a lot of climbing right?instead of walking upward by a cement road towards the caves, we took the road that went into the forest.
it was a road through a jungle, not the rainforests with scarce light that exist in my dreams as a reference point to all jungles, but a deciduous and evergreen forest – mix of both that exists at the borivali national park. the trek or walk had a mild upward inclination but at no point was it more than 30 degrees i suspect. it was gradual, and we walked up very slowly… why were we that slow? we were with a zoologist! we stopped at every point and asked hazar questions and he patiently pointed to spiders, birds, plants, shrubs and told us many stories about the eco-system around that… there was a cacophony of noises as we walked… the birds chirping, the hanuman langoor with its LOUD UUUPHHH that was almost startling every time he made it in the distance, the cicadas protesting from tree to tree as we walked by, and the crabs scrambling over the rocks… it was a beautiful soundtrack that took centre-stage that saturday morning…
1/3rd in and it began to rain, actually just drizzle… so raincoat out, camera tucked away and instagram (read my phone) bundled away into my pocket, we continued the upward walk. the forest came alive even more. without any distraction of taking pictures i was concentrating on the world around me…
did you know rain in the forest sounds REALLY loud? the pitter-patter on the trees, dry twigs, falling on the ground, the regular sound of rain on the tiny rivulets, and the rain-water streams gushing by… it was loud! for those ten mins of walking in the rains, we only heard the rain. it was gorgeous!
at this point, i must tell you that the trek was through a tiny path, it wasn’t that slippery but yes there were some rocks, some little puddles and streams to jump over and once of twice, all of us had a near-fall experience! i was being extremely careful to not step in any slush as i definitely didn’t want to get my shoes dirty… ganesh, our guide, was wearing crocs and i snickered in my head saying, how is that going to give him a good grip.
he obviously knew MUCH more than us about this walk. in a short distance, we came across monsoon stream, running right across our supposedly trail. the path way through the stream. there was no telling the monsoon stream is was out-of-bounds and had crossed and boundaries and to get back! ganesh just walked on like nothing had changed. realisation hit, the crocs were a really good idea. the three of us waded in with our shoes, in second we had water till our ankles and our shoes were completely wet. it made the ‘being careful with shoes’ till then seem so pointless. for me this part was the best! the water was cold and clear, we could see the stones at the bottom of this tiny stream… and we walked on it for around 5 mins till we branched out and took a route that went up away from this stream!
the rain stopped appropriately when we reached the mid-way point… and we stood there on this tiny plateau like point with a clear view of the deep valleys in front of us, gorai and the pagoda in the distance to the right, and hills on all other sides. it was GREEN! and quiet. suddenly startled by a cacophony of crows, ganesh told us they would be feeding on some leopard’s kill… the scavengers cleaning up…
and sure enough in a bit we came across some leopard scat. with no other shit, have i been so curious and gone so close. it’s not the first time i have seen leopard or a big cat’s scat… but every time i do, i go close, look at it… and almost marvel at it! probably in my head that’s the closest i would ever get to a wild cat, except for that experience at kaziranga, assam!
there were so many spider webs, some huge, some gorgeous and some that i have just not justice to with my shots. ganesh rattled of the names, stories and who eats whom and how they hunt. i have forgotten most of those stories, maybe another trip is due, soon. the malad trail is supposed to be one just for these spiders and their gorgeous webs. maybe that’s in order soon! it seems there are some spiders that have an x-mark across their webs, and that X is not visible to the human eye, except in some angles. but insects see it, and get attracted and stuck to the web! interestingly, that’s what those bug killers or zappers in restaurants… those boxes with tubelights in them? that’s truly bio-mimicry (if you haven’t as yet, then definitely check out the video on bio-mimicry at tedx)
the walk took us around an hour or more, it was slow and we paused at every small thing to know more about it… when we reached the top and kanheri caves, there was still so much beauty left for us to explore!
- you need to book two days in advance. call the nisarg mahiti kendra or nature information centre at – 28841428
- if you headed in the monsoons, take your umbrella or raincoat
- wear good footwear, the rocks are slippery and you do not want to be scraping the moss clean with your ass!
- the upper trail is around 1 to 1.5 hours at a slow pace and many stops to observe the abundant nature around, if you want to do it quicker, i think 45 minutes is good. it’s not steep and importantly, not on a cement / tar road at all… completely through the jungle!
- and go, its beautiful at this of the year…