Guindy National Park
Gundy National Park is one of the few in the world, has the distinction of being situated within a city, next to the governor's House at Adyar. Acting as a lung to the metro city of Chennai, this national park boasts of dry evergreen scrub and thorn forests. More than 30 tree species grow here. This is a sanctuary for endangered black buck and the spotted deer. Also spotted are civet cat, mongoose, monkeys, and a variety of avi fauna and reptiles. More than 100 varieties of birds, both migrant and resident including king fisher, quails, parakeets, lapwing, etc. are seen here. Phone: 044-22301328. Timing: 9.00 to 18.00, closed on Tuesday.
Spread over 270ha/668 acres on the South-Western edge of the city, Guindy is literally the lung space of Chennai. Originally a private game reserve owned by Englishman Gillbert Rodericks, the park was once part of the Governor's estate. Later, its outer edges were hived off to create plethora of institutes-IIT, CLRI and Anna University.
Primarily a tropical dry evergreen forest interspersed with scrub jungle and grasslands, the park is dotted with centuries-old banyan trees and numerous water bodies. Of the three ponds, Appalan Kulam is a habitat for water birds, Kathan Kulam is where deer congregate while Bhogi Pond is near the edge. The grassland, Polo Ground, is maintained as a grazing habitat for blackbuck. Thorny scrub is regularly cleared by the forest department and burnt; its ash contains essential minerals beneficial to the 350-stron population of blackbuck. Minimum groups of four, or larger school groups are taken on 1.5hr nature walks accompanied by forest staff. Along the two trals, one can spot nearly 132 bird species and deer, jackal, mongoose and herbivores in a free-ranging habitat.
The complex also houses other popular attractions like the Children's Park and Chennai Snake Park, which have separate entrances and fees.
The Snake Park was the old site of the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust until it was relocated to a larger site on the ECR. However, small open enclosures with an assortment of crocodiles remain, providing a complete reptilian atmosphere, in addition to the glass enclosures for snakes. Lec-Dems are conducted at the interpretation Centre, as are regular snake demonstrations at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 4.30pm. The Snake Park conducts free environment education programmes for local schools between 10am and 12noon on weekdays, making it a busy time to visit. Open Wed - Mon 8.30am to 5.30pm.
Spread over 9ha/22 acres, the adjoining Children's Park is bisected by a long tree-lined pathway leading off into 70 enclosures with caged birds and animals like deer, fox, jackal, hyena and primates. There is a great collection of pelicans, ibis and other water birds in the Vedanthangal Birds enclosure while exotic bird species like cassowary, emu and parakeets get individual cages. Don't miss the 20-million-year-old tree fossil on display between the lion-tailed macaque and the Tower Slide near the playground to the right. Open daily 9am to 5.30pm
Crocodile Bank is about 14km from Mamallapuram or 44km from Chennai is the crocodile breeding and research centre, which is run today by the Chennai Crocodile Bank Trust. Started by Romulus Whitaker in 1976, who was also the founder of Guindy Snake Park, it has succeeded in its Endeavour to protect the endangered gharial and marsh crocodile. It houses several species of Indian and Continental crocodiles and alligators. They are bred in captivity. These reptiles are kept in open pools and can be viewed from safe proximity Phone: 044-27442447. Timing 10.00 to 17.00. Night Safari on weekends only from 19.00 to 20.00.