Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Destination Chennai: Part Two – Vandalur Zoo, Egmore Museum, Crocodile Park and more

Central Bus Stand - Chennai

From Kanchipuram, I reached Chennai’s Koyambedu Central Bus Stand in the afternoon. Next destination was Vandalur Zoo (aka ‘Arignar Anna Zoological Park’). However, there was not enough time. One of my friends already informed that, zoo requires atleast one day. Whatever it may be, I decided to stick to the schedule. The moment I reached on MTC side of Koyambedu stand, I got a direct bus to Vandalur.

Vandalur Zoo

It was a lengthy journey. I tried to stay awake, but slipping in to sleep was more appealing. We crossed ‘Officers Training Academy’ (OTA), ‘Chennai International Airport’ (CIA), ‘National Institute of Siddha’ etc and reached Tambaram bus stand. After spending some time here, my MTC bus resumed the journey to Vandalur Zoo.

One of the most sought after program here was Lion Safari. Unfortunately, I was late for that; hence after buying tickets, I went to see the animals

Chennai Streets
Nilgiri Langoor was there on one side, in another block Chimpanzee was chewing something, and sea eagle was on the nearby cages. After walking for some more time, I met a group of Gaur – one of them, wearing an expressionless face, was looking towards a remote corner of the zoo.
In between the under growth, far away from the eyes of visitors, a tiger was taking rest but his majestic head was still above the shrubs. Next to that, in a block specified for lions, four of them were on a deep family discussion – tea time chat.

A lot of couples enjoying their private moments, sharing jokes and concerns about future were sitting on a remote corner - free of animals and birds. Leaving them behind, I moved ahead to see the white tiger. Lot of people were making noises for this prince to come out. But no... he prefers the place behind that shade over two legged animals.

LIC Building - One of the old big building in the city
From the next junction I took a diversion to see Jackal and bear. There was an artificial cage like room in one end of Jackal’s block. One Jackal was inside and the other one was standing outside. The interesting thing was, after some 7-10 seconds, Jackal which was standing inside the cave would come out and the one standing outside would go in. After next 7-10 seconds the one currently inside would come out and the other one would go in. This process continued for a long time.

After seeing the bear, I walked towards water birds location. Sun’s bright golden rays were slowly but steadily getting replaced by cool dark waves of night. Water bird’s location used to be, one of my favourite locations in any national park.

I hate to see them in those small cages, whose inner area won’t justify the enthusiasm displayed by these creatures. Still, just to see them standing in single legs, searching for food in waters, taking a round around the cage, for hearing the fluttering sound of their wings, their lengthy lips, small eyes, soft feathers, I used to spend a lot of time around them. In any day, Eastern grey horn, Grey Pelican, White/Rosy Pelican, Painted stork etc will add some happiness to viewer’s life.

As darkness was getting thicker, I started walking fast towards the exit and from there to Koyambedu central bus stand.

Egmore Museum (Friday Holiday)

Egmore Museum
I kept the program to visit Egmore museum for the last day. In the early morning, my cousin’s husband dropped me close to the museum. This big museum, also known as Chennai museum, spread over an area of 16.25 acres. Located in the heart of Chennai (Pantheon Road), Egmore museum has six independent buildings and 46 galleries. From the counter I bought the tickets and gave bag at the clock room close to the entrance gate.

Main building houses galleries like South Indian Sculptures Gallery, North Indian Sculptures Gallery, Indus Valley Civilisation Gallery, Memorial Stones and Hero Stones Gallery, Hindu Sculptures Gallery etc. Here you can see the sculptures of Dwarapalaka, Parvati, Dakshinamurthi, Surya etc. On a nearby garden a piece of wooden fossil was on display.

Geology section has two galleries. Here everyone sealed their lips and remained silent, except the noisy old fan. Zoology section has nine galleries. The main attractions are Reptiles, Birds, Mammals, Coral, frogs, Invertebrates etc. Botany gallery is located close to it.

National Arts Gallery building
Children's museum was very close. In the modern building of Bronze gallery, objects were illuminated by small pointed lamps. Big statue of Nataraja (Dancing Shiva) stands at a corner in the ground floor. A group of foreigners standing in front of Nataraja statue with their guide (who was again a foreigner) were curiously picking up each words coming from the mouth of their guide about Shiva and Tandava dance. This building also houses old coin gallery.

One of my main intentions, in visiting Egmore museum was to see the paintings of Raja Ravivarma. Unfortunately, National Art Gallery building was closed for maintenance on that day. However, Contemporary Art Gallery standing close to that was open. After taking a quick look on 'Exposition on the progress of Industries and Handicrafts of Tamil Nadu' located on ground floor, I went to the first floor. Here, life size paintings of British officers will welcome you. A couple of feats away, we can see beautiful paintings from Tanjavur, Rajput, Mughal schools.

Magnificent paintings by Raja Ravi Varma were hanging on one side. First one on the row was,

‘Lady with Mirrors’ – in this painting a beautiful young lady in red saree is holding a mirror in one hand, and combing her long hair using a comb with the other hand. She is standing at the corner of a bedroom, facing long windows.

Retired Sepoy’ - This painting shows the sitting image of a retired sepoy. What the lines in his face have to say?

The Miser’ – A miser with a long greyish white beard, wearing a red overcoat, is sitting on a chair. His both hands are set in table in front of him, holding a white bag - probably filled with money. He wears a headgear as well.

Going out’ – A lady wearing new dresses, with an umbrella on left hand is on her way out (probably to market). Her other hand is on the door knob.

Apart from Raja Ravi Varma, paintings of many others were also on display. Second floor of the same building hosts Holographic Gallery – Objects which appear like real but are illusions only. In a single word – Maya.

After taking the bag from clock room, I left the museum around 1.30 in the afternoon.

Madras Crocodile Bank and Snake Venom extraction centre

Next to museum, there is a Government Maternity hospital. From here, I took a bus to Paris (This Paris is a place in Chennai!!!) bus stand. From Paris I got another bus to Kovalam (Not the famous Kovalam beach in Thiruvananthapuram, but a village close to Mamallapuram in East Coast Road).

The idea was to see ‘The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Centre for Herpetology’, located on ECR. This is one of the large reptile zoos in Asia. ‘Irula tribal snake venom extraction cooperative’ is also operating close to it.

Running parallel to Bay of Bengal, ECR (East Coast Road) is one of the good roads to travel in southern area of India’s eastern coast line. Escaping from the crowded city and giving shake-hand to Bay of Bengal, I finally reached the place; only to hear that ‘Monday’ is a holiday.

This park was not part of my original plan, added to it on the last moment. So, I didn’t find much time to explore about this place and find out holidays. Interestingly, I was not the only person came there on that day. One family, coming from Mysore, was already in the gates to see the centre; however they didn’t allow them to go inside. Sadly, with a heavy heart, I had to catch the return bus. If I could stay in Chennai for one more day, I would have went there once more!!!


Horn Bill

Water Birds
Wooden Fossil

1 comment:

  1. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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