Every weekend we have the same conversation – what should we do? Not ones for partying or pub-hopping, we end up watching a movie, catching up on chores, and occasionally trying a new restaurant.
We’ve been working on a book about Chennai for a very long time now (more about how long it takes to publish a book later), so in an attempt to check off all the ‘to do’ things in Chennai, we hit three recommended spots. The Vandalur Zoo, The Lighthouse, and the Egmore Museum.
The Vandalur Zoo
The only driver among the five of us rented a Zoomcar, and picked us up at 8 in the morning. The drive to Vandalur took just under two hours, and we packed breakfast to eat on the way. You cannot take any food inside, so eat a heavy breakfast – it’s a very big zoo and you will get very tired very fast!
If the Chief Minister’s photograph with tiger cubs plastered all over the city isn’t enough reminder, here’s some more. NOW is the time to go! The zoo has four 2 month old baby orange Bengal tigers, and the mama is a white tiger. A debate on whether white tigers are actually albino tigers (they’re not) ensued.
The zoo has at least 4 full grown orange tigers, and 4 full grown beautiful white tigers, apart from the cubs. There might be more that we didn’t see!
You can walk if you wish, but we hired cycles at Rs.15 per hour to get around faster. The only problem with that is the start-stop you end up doing. There are also battery operated vehicles that show you around all the enclosures.
The entire zoo is green and clean, with passionate staff taking care of the animals. It’s not half as commercial as other famous zoos around the world, but is definitely must-do at least once!
There’s also a solitary lion (and lion cubs that we didn’t see), leopards, many species of deer, bisons, a butterfly park, a reptiles section, and lots more that we didn’t have the energy to do! Migratory aquatic birds flock to the lake, and if you’re lucky enough to not have hundreds of screaming kids around, the birdsong is pretty overwhelming.
The Egmore Museum
The museum has upgraded many of its sections since I last visited 6 years ago. While it has a good collection, it does leave much to be desired. There’s very little information about the artifacts and historic pieces, and almost no context of time and events.
Now open to public, you have to take a lift upto the viewing area. It’s jam-packed with people and security guards yell at you if you stay more than 5 minutes. Lovely views from up there, and worth doing!
And once again, we have nothing to do at the weekend!