Despite having dabbled in religion, philosophy, and psychology, I still found no peace. I knew for a long period of time from what learned people say and from personal experience that nature treks are the perfect medication for the stressed out. I never had company for such trips. Finally, I decided to take things into my own hands. I put aside music, movies, reading and writing to pay Mother Nature a visit. A random advertisement on Facebook (Where I spend an unhealthy amount of time) drew my attention to a forest/park situated 10 minutes from my home which I had criminally neglected all my life. Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). A highly underrated location in the center of Mumbai city. A favorite among joggers and families looking to spend weekends having fun in parks, playgrounds, watching caged cats, reptiles and simians (Can monkeys ever be caged?), only a chosen few (Mostly out-of-towners and professional naturalists) appreciated the treasure-trove of heavenly experiences that await those who dig deeper into the offerings of SGNP. I grabbed this opportunity to heal myself and booked a half-day weekend trek here. It’s cost me a paltry sum of 750 rupees. The experience was outrageously awesome. As a picture speaks a thousand words, the rest of this article consists mainly of photographs with spare comments in certain places.
The Journey Begins
It’s a difficult forest trail. No doubts about that.
Here we see a symbiotic relationship between a tree producing smelly and sticky gum and aggressive ants in a nest. The familiar odor which the tree releases on perceiving a threat can cause the ants to swarm toward the potential threat.
Each team member respects the level of interest shown by the other and waits patiently.
Bhutia (Marathi) or Ghost Tree, called so because of its white bark, is a deciduous tree native to India.
Semi-circular shaped mushrooms.
Don’t you wish you could run into these woods and never return to city life?
A baby snake has shed its skin. The vigilant naturalist guide spots it and displays it for everyone.
The fallen feather of a raptor. (Kite, Eagle, Hawk etc.)
Someone tries to sneak the feather home and the guide reminds everyone that any material that they come across is the sole property of the park. He further adds that more qualified naturalists at the office attached to the park will identify the bird and note it in the ongoing research work.
Surprise: This plant does not belong to the cactus family.
Darwin’s Theory of Evolution still true.
It is mentioned that the heat given out by the dark-colored volcanic rocks that make up this mountain top will be too hot to bear during summer noons.
Tulsi and Vihar lakes which still supply water to uptown Mumbai using pipes laid down by the Britishers in the 1800s.
Mother Nature is always speaking. She speaks in a language understood within the peaceful mind of the sincere observer. Leopards, cobras, monkeys, rivers, and trees; they all served as my teachers when I lived as a wanderer in the Himalayan foothills.
~ Radhanath Swami