Nandankanan literally means ‘The Garden of Heaven’, exhibits a wide variety of flora and fauna, house of Lion Safari, White tiger Safari, Bear safari, Deer Safari, Butterfly Park, orchid and reptiles.
The Nandankanan Zoological Park is located near the capital city of Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. Nandankanan literally means ‘The Garden of Heaven’. The park was established in the year 1960 and was opened for the public from 1979 onwards. The park houses a botanical garden and 134-acre of Kanjia Lake.
More about the Nandankanan Zoological Park
The park is spread across 990-acres of land. In the year 2009 it became the first zoo in India to have joined the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). It exhibits a wide variety of flora and fauna. The total number of animals in the zoo is around 2669 and around 3.3 million visitors visit the zoo annually. The major attraction here is that the park houses, white tigers. Many tourists and visitors flock in on a daily basis to take a glimpse of the white tigers strolling.
Nandankanan Zoological Park also exhibits Lion Safari, White tiger Safari, Bear safari, Deer Safari, Butterfly Park and orchid house. The safari is ticketed. The park houses a reptile exhibit too. It showcases an array of reptiles including snakes and crocodiles.
A major upgrade was done in 2000 after the damage caused by the super cyclone in the year 1999.
History behind the Nandankanan Zoological Park
The construction of this zoo cum botanical garden has undergone various difficulties. It all started when the forest officials in the year 1960 decide to include rare plants and animals in the Odisha pavilion at the World Agricultural Fair in Delhi. They took this initiate so as to increase attendance at the fair. So, in other to cater to this demand the forest officials sent out a team to capture as many small animals as possible. Following were the animals captured by them.
- Two spotted deer
- Two barking deer
- Two black buck
- One mouse deer
- One leopard cat
- One flying squirrel
- One racket-tailed drongo
- One hornbill
- One mongoose
- One peacock
- Two hill mynah
In addition to all this a pangolin, two porcupines, a pair of boars and a python were captured by the different forest departments and were exhibited at the fair.
This highlighted the need for a zoo for the wide variety of animals present in the state of Odisha. But the State Finance Department was not willing to take a step towards this initiative due to lack of funds. Eventually more animals started pouring in Bhubaneswar and it became very difficult for the Forest Department to fed and maintain these numbers. So, a temporary structure at Khandgiri was established for the animals. This was maintained by the Jain community.
When the then Chief Minister Dr. H. K. Mahatab visited the animals, the path for construction of a permanent zoo was paved. Earlier the location decided for the construction of the zoo was near Khandgiri and Udaigiri caves. But the area posed water shortage problems so it was rejected. Then the location near Kanjia Lake was chosen for the construction of the zoo. This place was apt in very sense.
The Nandankanan Biological Park was officially inaugurated on 29th December 1960 by Sri S. K. Patil the then Indian Minister of Food and Agriculture.
The zoo now houses about 1600 individual animals. There exists 67 species of mammals, 81 species of birds and 18 species reptiles. It is also the home of various endangered animals like Nilgiri languor, Indian pangolin, Asiatic lion etc.
Breeding Programs for Animals
Various animals are bred in captivity in here. These breeding programs have a high success rate. The zoo is also recognized internationally for its breeding of black panthers, gharials and white tigers in captivity.
The zoo took this initiative in the year 2008 in order to facilitate the better functioning of the zoo and the inhabitant animals. It came up as an initiative by which the general public could help in the conservation of the animals and also for raising money. There are perks given to the adopters like they get a customized adoption certificate and one free entry ticket for each animal adopted. The adopters name is also mentioned in the annual report of the zoo. The most attractive sites are also up for adoption here i.e. the lion and tiger safari. Many indivisuals, public, private and government institutions have adopted various animals. Some of these include the State Bank of India and the Confidence factory.
The funds raised from this programme is used for the welfare of the animals. Good quality good, medical care and conservation of the biodiversity are some of the few things done with these funds.
A Tourist’s Guide to Nandankanan Zoological Park
The Nandankanan Zoological Park is 20km away from the hustling and bustling city of Bhubaneswar by road. The nearest railway station is 1km away at Barang and the Bhubaneswar Railway Station is 18km away from here. The nearest airport is 20km away in Bhubaneswar itself. Reaching this location is not a big issue as it is well connected by road.
The entry to the zoo is ticketed. In case you want to take a safari then it has got extra charges. The entry fee for Indian nationals above the age of 12 is Rs.50 and between 3 to 12 years is Rs.10. The entry fee for foreigners is Rs.100.
It also has tourist cottages and cloak rooms. One can enjoy bating, toy train rides and ropeway. All these are charged separately. The time limit for boating is 30 min. Vehicle parking is also chargeable. The zoo is open is from 7:30am to 5:30p on all days of the week except on Mondays.
One can even book tickets online and explore the place with friends and family.
The Nandankanan Zoological Park enjoys the picturesque beauty of the Kanjia Lake. The abundance of vegetation makes strolls even during the afternoons peaceful and serene. It is busy throughout the days. The visitors include school children, nature enthusiasts, foreigners, city dwellers etc. Many a times movies and documentaries are also shot in the beautiful and vast area enclosed in this park. The animals are well kept and fed here. Nandankanan Zoological park portrays a wide range of animal and plant species for the visitors to learn and enjoy.