Crazy about reptiles or just curious about them? Want to keep your child engaged in the summer heat or just want to while away time? These reptile parks of Chennai are the right places to visit.
If your children are crazy as mine about reptiles, then Chennai has so much to offer you. One of the favourite places for my children to visit is the Snake Park. Started by Romulus Whitaker, it is also India’s first reptile park. It has been one of my favourite spots too as a child. A lot of things have changed there but still it is such a fun place to visit.
The park has more than 30 different species of snakes, half a dozen species of crocodiles and lizards and a couple of species of turtle/tortoise. The park has shows where they demonstrate venom extraction from snakes. As a child, I remember being allowed to touch the snakes, but over the years because the snakes are abused by general public knowingly or unknowingly, they do not allow to touch the snakes anymore.
The park also has a small auditorium like space with displays which have information on all kinds of snakes in English and Tamil. This place is used for conduction classes and demonstrations for visiting students. Other than this the park also has a well-stocked library with books on reptiles and a museum with specimens of preserved amphibians and reptiles.
The place is full of trees and is adjacent to the children’s park and Guindy National park. It is a nice place to spend a hot day in summer and keep the kids entertained. The place is closed on Tuesdays and the opening times are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The entry fee is Rs.15.00 for adults and children from 5 to 12 pay Rs.5.00. There is a small fee of Rs.20 for still camera and Rs.100 for a video camera. The classes conducted for students in their auditorium are free.
There are a lot of city buses that connect to the snake park from all over the city.
The Crocodile bank is a little far off from the hustle bustle of Chennai and for a reason. The crocodile bank is in the south coast of Chennai and is in the coastal dune forest. This forest provides a natural haven for local native wildlife, including water birds and also is a nesting place for Olive Ridley sea turtles. When this was started, the three Indian species of crocodiles were nearing extinction and the whole idea was to save them. This is the biggest crocodile park in India. The crocodile bank has 14 different species of crocodiles, 3 species of snakes, 10 species of turtles and 1 species of lizard.
The crocodile bank is on the way to the tourist spot of Mahabalipuram and not to be missed. If you are there around feeding time, you are allowed to feed the crocodile for a fee. It is one of the biggest breeding centres for crocodiles and turtles in captivity.
The park is constantly expanding and bringing in new animals using exchange programs all the time. They also conduct nature walks, education programs for schools and local villages.
I would definitely recommend this place as a “not-to-miss” for any child that loves crocodiles and even for adults too.
The place is closed on Mondays and the opening times are 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The entry fee is Rs.35.00 for adults and children less than ten pay Rs.10.00. There is a small fee of Rs.20 for still camera / mobiles and Rs.100 for a video camera.
Other places of interest
Vandalur Zoo or Arignar Anna Zoological Park
While the above two is exclusively for reptiles, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, which is a regular zoo has a huge collection of reptiles and is a centre for breeding in captivity for pythons. This place has six varieties of crocodiles and they also breed crocodiles here. The park also has a serpentarium with 14 different species of snakes. This would be more like a full day program for children and adults. Pack your picnic lunch and enjoy a day there.
Karadi Malai Camp
If you are one of those people that none of the above satisfies you and you want to be one with nature and enjoy the animals and reptiles then this is the place to go. This is the home of Rom who started the Snake park and Crocodile Bank and his wife Janaki Lenin. They have simple bamboo cottages and they provide simple home cooked meals. You can go for a morning walk, a hike on the hill or a night time trip with the people who work there. A place to enjoy for all naturists and adventurists.
Depending on whether you want to spend a couple of hours, half a day or a couple of days you can pick and choose which place to visit.