GUINDY NATIONAL PARK
The Guindy National Park is a small preserve and a protected area of only 2.7 sq. kms. It is situated in Guindy in the metropolitan city of Chennai, state of Tamil Nadu. The park has the distinction of being one of the parks established in a city. There is a zoo and snake park in its premises. The Park is home to garden birds as the estuary at Adyar which has mud and sand banks finds favour with a lot of the exotic variety.
The Guindy National Park is the 8th smallest park in India. The Raj Bhavan where the Governor of Tamil Nadu stays was earlier called Guindy Lodge. The name of the Park has been coined out from the name as the Park is an extension of the Raj Bhavan.
The Park has conservations that are both captive and otherwise. The park even has a lake called ’Tangal Eri’. Within the park there is a large network of roads. There are two large tanks known as ‘Kathan Kollai’, also known as KK Tank and ‘Appalam Kolam’ known as AK Tank in short. There are two ponds within the park but they generally dry up during summer.
Guindy Park, the earlier name of this National Park, was originally a game reserve. A space was created out of the Guindy forest in 1670 where the Governor William Langhorne resided between 1672 to 1678. The place of residence was known as Guindy Lodge. The forest was owned by a British resident named Gilbert Rodricks. The place was purchased by the Government in 1821 for Rs.35000.00. The area was around 505 hectares at that time and the Government, to conserve the area as a reserve forest, introduced chital in to it. Later, between 1961 and 1977, 172 hectares of land was utilized for constructing an educational institution and various memorials. In 1958 the Indian Institute of Technology came up in the forest area. At the instance of the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, a children’s park and a deer park came up in the land. In 1978, the remaining portion of the land was declared a National Park. The area was walled off from the other adjoining establishments.
The park has the remnants of a game reserve established during the days of British rule and there is a small portion of tropical dry evergreen forest that made the Circar-Coromandel Coast. The present park is only a skeleton of the dry evergreens and thorn shrubs that made it a great forest once upon a time. There are scrub lands, forests, streams and lakes within the Park and is enmeshed deep inside the Raj Bhavan compound. There are about 350 species of plants consisting of shrubs, climbers, herbs and grasses and 24 species of trees including Sugar Apple, Wood Apple and Neem. Approximately one sixth of the land is grass land as this is preserved as the habitat for the Balckbucks. The deer in the park lives off the shrubs and bushes. The trees are perfect habitat for the birds. In the Children’s Park, there is a fossilized tree specimen which is stated to be more than 20 million years old.
The Park is a favourite place for water birds and the woodland variety of birds like the Pacific Golden Plover, western reef heron, Swinhoe’s snipe and sanderling which comes to roost in this park in winter. There are 130 species of garden variety birds that make themselves at home in this Park and there are also birds with exotic names like the blue faced malkoha , Indian pitta, black baza, Malayan night heron, eye browed thrush, ashy minivet and the long legged buzzard. The Park has 24 Jackals, 400 Blackbucks, 2000 spotted deer, small Indian civet, palm civet, bonnet macaque, hedgehog, common mongoose, the three striped squirrel, bats, rodents and reptiles like snakes and many other insects and animals kept in confinements. There are enclosures within the park where King Cobras, pythons saw scaled vipers and other reptiles reside within touching distance of the children’s park. There are other animals and amphibians like the crocodiles, which have been put up in enclosures and are protected. There are 60 species of butterflies and spiders. The place is also a wonderland of invertebrates that consists of caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants, termites, crabs, snails, slugs, scorpions, mites, earthworms and millipedes and grasshoppers.
- Shore Temple: Named after the place where it has been located on the shores of Mahabalipuram, it was built by the Pallava king, King Narasimhavarman in the 8th century. The temple is 42.9 kms from the park. The five storey structure was built of massive slabs of granite and the better part of the structure was submerged for more than 10 centuries and which was unearthed after the tsunami of 2004. The temple reflects the Dravidian culture and has been dedicated to the reclining form of Lord Vishnu on one side and a bigger temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
- Marina Beach: It is about 8 kms. from the Park. Marina Beach is the second longest beach in the world. There are monuments dedicated to the great Tamil leaders, Annadurai and M G Ramachandran.
- Connemara Library: This is one of the four ‘deposit libraries’ in India which entitles the library to receive all publications in India. The library started as a part of the Madras Museum and later Lord Connemara, the then Governor of the Madras Presidency threw open the library to the public in 1896
- Fort St. George: On the shores of the Bay of Bengal, it was built by the British India Company under the direct supervision of Andrew Cogon in 1640. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Indian army. There is an Anglican church and British tombstones in the courtyard. The present Legislative Assembly and the secretariat are housed here.
- Ripon Building: this massive structure houses the Corporation Office and is done in white. The architecture is a combination of three styles – Gothic, Ironic and Corinthian. There is a huge clock which has to be wound every day.
- National art Gallery (Victoria Memorial Hall): It is a pink sandstone building. It houses various priceless traditions of Indian Art
- Ashtalakshmi Temple: On Besant Road near the Bay of Bengal, the architecture is different from those found in and around Chennai in that the temple had only been constructed 25 years ago. The presiding deity is Goddess Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. The temple is four tiered and there is a separate shrine for the eight forms of Goddess Lakshmi. There are other deities also in the temple.
The Park is within the city of Chennai and the nearest place is Laxmi Nagar. The airport is within the city at Meenambakkam which is 16 kms. away. The railway station is 12 kms away. There are many buses that pass in front of the park and transportation is never a problem in this area. There are separate passes for the snake park and the children’s park. The entrance to the Park is on Sardar Patel Road. The nearest railway station is Kasturi Bhai Nagar MRTS, which is less than a kilometer from the Park. The Guindy Railway station where the suburban trains run is within 1 km.
GETTING INTO THE PARK
The Park is open on all days from 9.00 am to 5.30 pm. The entry fee is Rs.15.00 for adults and Rs.10.00 for children. It takes three hours to see the park. The Children’s Park is open from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.
CLIMATE AND TEMPERATURE
The temperature within the park varies from 32.90C at the maximum and 24.30C at the minimum level. Summer is from April to May and monsoons pay its annual visit between June and December. From December to March, it is the dry season.
ACCOMMODATION AND RESTAURANTS
There are small restaurants and vendors around the park. Chennai is a metropolitan city and there are many hotels within the city that fits in the pocket of any traveler. Visitors can log on to makemytrip.com, agoda.com or any other popular sites to reserve their accommodation at reduced rates.
There is a new Interpretation Centre where any visitor can get to know of the biodiversity of the park. Visitors are not allowed in to the core area of the park unless there is a permit and accompanied by a Forest Ranger. Permission has to be availed from the Forest Department.
Details can be had from: The Wildlife Warden, 50 IVth Main Road, Gandhi Nagar, Adayar, Chennai – 600 020 or from The Wildlife Warden, 259, Anna Salai, DMS Compound, IV Floor, Teynampet, Chennai-600 006