Being in Chennai for many years now, gives me a kind of complacence in exploring places closer to the city. One such place I visited couple of weeks back, breaking my complacence is Vandalur Zoo.
Aringar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur is popularly known as Vandalur Zoo. It is run and maintained by the Tamilnadu Government with wide variety of animals. It is situated on the GST Road before Urapakkam, may be 15 kms from Tambaram. It is spread over a sprawling area of more than 1000 acres of reserve forests. Zoo boasts of wide variety of wild animals, birds and reptiles in well maintained enclosures.
The zoo has a battery operated car to take you to the various animal enclosures as well as offers a Lion Safari. Though the Lion Safari offered by the Zoo does give you a semblance of a safari when you start but actually it is not. The driver of the van knows exactly where the Lions would be in the forest and take you directly there. The Lions roam around freely in the forest and the driver parks the van very closely for you to see the Lion.
The animals are well fed and the enclosures are well maintained. The watch and ward staff cleans up the enclosures as well the zoo very regularly. You can either choose to walk the entire zoo or take the battery operated car. I suggest if you have young children to take the battery operated car. It saves you lot of time and energy. The charges are very nominal right from entrance fees to lion safari to battery operated cars. The battery operated car drivers tries to make some quick money by taking along passengers without valid tickets!!
Overall it is an enjoyable day out in the open rather than sitting in front of the Television. The children would love to see the different kind of animals, snakes and birds.
Tips if you are planning to visit Vandalur Zoo:
1. People who are travelling from the western part of the city (like Ambattur, Anna Nagar, Vadapalani - Porur, Mogappair) can take the Maduravoyal - Tambaram bye-pass toll road. This road will help you to bye-pass the city traffic and helps you to reach Perungulathur closer to Vandalur in no time.
2. The weekly holiday is Tuesday. This Pongal day may be an exception, I guess.
3. Start early in the morning. We started around 8.15 AM and reached there by 9.15 AM and had plenty of time to look around.
4. If you intend to take the battery operated car, on entering the zoo find out where is the booking counter. There is an advance booking mechanism in place for the battery operated cars and Lion Safari. You need to book it in advance else you would not seats, particularly on weekends.
5. There is a Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corporation hotel inside, but the food is not of great quality. You have one hotel by name Hotel Sangeetha just opposite to the zoo on the GST Road.
6. If you are planning to carry light snacks, please avoid carrying it in very thin plastic bags/covers. Plastic covers are banned inside the zoo. Better way to carry biscuits or other food stuff in a air-tight container rather than in plastic bags. Otherwise, you have to undergo the ordeal of transferring your eatables in plastic bags to hand-rolled paper covers at the entrance.