A solo trek to the top of Kanheri caves, Sanjay Gandhi National Park2017 August 6
The largest Buddhist caves not only amongst the caves in Mumbai, but in entire India, Kanheri caves are situated in the environmentally protected zone of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivali suburb of northern Mumbai. Kanheri being the erstwhile university during 1st century BC to 11th century AD, has not 1 or 2 but a total of 120 plus discovered caves spread across a large area in the hills of SGNP. Caves here include Chaitya halls, Viharas, stupas as well as massive carved figures of Buddha which are a famous picnic spot for Mumbaikars. This place turns even more magical in monsoons when the greenery takes over this entire area with many small- large streams and waterfalls come gushing down these historic caves best accessed from Borivali station (East) of Mumbai's western local railway line.Elephanta caves:
Kanheri Caves had been one of the places on my wishlist for a while and I was looking for someone to go there with. After planning the visit to the caves a week in advance (and seeing the plans fall through) my friend Adwait decided that a last minute plan will be the best way to ensure its occurrence. Considering that most of the people back out in the last moment of the trip, we managed to achieve a record: roping in 4 others - my classmate Neeti, Adwait's classmates Dhairyashil (or Dhairya, as we called him) and Aishwarya, Aishwarya's flatmate Milky tagged along as well. The impromptu-planning-phase for the trip turned to be a lot more successful than we thought... A WhatsApp group and a couple of hours of trolling each other later, we decided to rent a bicycle each and cycle to the caves.
As almost everyone found travelling by trains pretty convenient, we decided to meet up at Borivali station at 7.45am and take rickshaws to the entrance of the park together. But as I was running late, I decided to join all of them at the main entrance of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). My dad was sweet enough to offer me a ride, and mom didn't mind an early morning drive either. My sister was the awesomest of the lot - with completely dishevelled hair she was the first one out the door, in her pyjamas, a half-drunk mug of coffee in her hand. The weather was just perfect for trekking, or at least it appeared so in the beginning - partially cloudy and windy. Most importantly, it wasn't too hot. Although we missed a turn and had to take a longer route, we reached just in time, at about 8am.
Well, Kanheri Caves lie in the interior of SGNP. One can either choose to cycle, or trek or take the bus which goes right up to the base of the caves. The route from the entrance of SGNP is about 5.5 kilometres long.
"Kumbhkaran" Adwait smirked at me as we walked to the bicycle rack. We found that the bicycles enough for only half of us. Sighing, we decided to walk instead. The walk felt lengthy - even though we walked for about an hour, we barely made it halfway. Taking a short water break, we resumed our journey. On our journey we came across people selling chana chaat (boiled chickpeas with vegetables and spices), fruits and vegetables. Briefly stopping to grab a little bit of chaat and a few slices of kairi (raw mango), we resumed our journey. We talked about everything under the sun - CGPAs, placements, crazy experiences, ideas for future treks and what not. We came across a Jain temple on the way and decided to pay it a visit on our way back. We did see quite a few people ditching their bicycles for a short walk or for selfies.
A simple and enlightning trek