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Nandankanan Zoological Park: The Garden Of Heaven in Odisha

The name Nandankanan illustrates the eternal beauty of the place where the visitor finds himself as to have come into a celestial world. Literally meaning The Garden of Heaven, Nandan Kanan is a real place of relaxing your mind amidst a green environment and a cherishing view of the wildlife. Although established in 1960, the Zoo opened for the public in 1979. It also holds the glory of being chosen as India’s first Zoo to be enlisted in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).  

Nandankanan covers a total area of 437 hectare (1080 acre) adjacent to Chandaka Dampara wildlife sanctuary, that spreads over the district of Khurda. The area includes a Zoo and a botanical garden. It is also a part of the Krishnanagar and Jujhagarh demarcated protected Forests. The Zoo comes in the Bhubaneswar region, the capital of Odisha. The nearest railway station to Nandanakanan is Baranga railway station which traverses through the Howrah-Chennai route of the Railways. The Zoo also comes in the vicinity of a 134 acre lake called Kanjia Lake. 

The Zoo offers as large as 210 enclosures, 116 cages and 94 open moats to roam and see and enjoy the panoramic view of the animal kingdom.  A sum total of  3485 number of animals of 157 varieties of species  can be found in the zoo.  It holds 41 spp. of mammals, 83 spp. of birds, 26 spp. of reptiles, 6 spp of amphibians and 85 spp. of butterflies. Those many fold the beauty of the spot. 

Park entrance
courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Lion
courtesy Wikimedia Commons
White Tiger
courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Nandankanan Park accumulates around 3.3 million  visitors from across the globe in a year. The popularity of the zoo is due to its indegineous and exotic fauna and flora. It also offers the visitors with other major exhibits like : White Tiger Safari, Lion Safari, Butterfly Park and Orchid House. 

History

The establishment of Nandankanan is full of interesting events. In the 1960s, the World Agricultural Fair was organised in Delhi. Some forest officials decided to include some rare animals and plants of Odisha in the Odisha pavilion at the fair. This was planned to be implemented to pull the crowd to the pavilion. 

Hardly, the forest department could capture two spotted deer (Axis axis), two barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak), two black buck (Antilope cervicapra), one mouse deer, one leopard cat, one flying squirrel, one racket-tailed drongo, one hornbill, two parrots, two hill mynah, one peacock, and a mongoose. In addition, the divisional forest officer of Deogarh captured a pangolin (scaly ant-eater) and two porcupines, and the divisional forest officer of Puri captured a pair of wild boars and a Python. All of these animals were delivered to the Delhi fair and exhibited at the Odisha pavilion.

At first, there was an objection from The State Finance Department regarding the establishment of the zoo in Odisha. This was because of the cost of both establishing and maintaining the facility. While the issue was being debated, animals arrived back at Bhubaneswar in May 1960, posing problems to the forest department for housing and feeding them. P. Mohandra (Divisional Forest Officer, Puri) and G. K. Das (Divisional Forest Officer, Deogarh) built temporary structures at Khandagiri for the animals, and the community of Jain helped feed them. Discussions about a real zoo started soon after Dr. H. K. Mahatab, then Chief Minister of Odisha, visited the animals.

Initially, it was proposed to make the zoo at Ghatikia close to Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves. However, this was deemed to pose water problems in the future.

Finally, it was suggested to open the zoo in the Jujhagarh forest block on Kanjia lake near Barang Railway station. The location was chosen because of its picturesque landscape and lush green environment. 

At last, Nandankanan Biological Park was officially inaugurated on 29 December 1960, by Sri S. K. Patil, then Indian Minister of Food and Agriculture.

The opening of the botanical garden took place in 1963. The first tiger arrived at the zoo in 1964 from the Alipore Zoo in Calcutta, along with a pair of African lions, a pair of Mugger crocodiles, and a puma. The facility was renamed Nandankanan Zoological Park in 1981. 

What to See ?

Endangered Species 

Asiatic lion, Indian crocodiles, Sangal lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, Indian pangolin, mouse deer and countless birds, reptiles and fish are the endangered categories of species that can be seen at Nandankanan. 

Acquaria

Around more than 30 acquaria can be spotted which includes a variety of fish.

Fishes
courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Eagle
courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Rhinoceros
courtesy Odisha Diary

Reptile Park

While at the entrance into the reptile park, there is a cave like structure. The structure is a replica of a life size Tyrannosaurus rex. A number of crocodiles, lizards, turtles, and snakes can be seen in the park. 

Special Attractions 

Rare Animals

Rarely seen Patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas), Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius) and Open-billed Stork (Anastomus oscitans) can be seen in the zoo. Orang-Utan which is also seen in Kanpur Zoological Park, Uttar Pradesh,  Indian Pangolin in the Jhargram Zoo, West Bengal, Spotted Munia, also seen in the Sayajibaug Zoo, Gujarat) and Burmese Python seen in Calcutta Snake Park, West Bengal, is also found in Nandankanan. It is among the three zoos of India having Green-winged Macaws and Cinereous Vulture.

Tiger Safari

The first zoo in India with a white tiger safari. It provides a unique situation where the visitors are confined in a vehicle and the animals roam in the open jungle.  

A special protected vehicle takes the visitors straight into the pride of lions in the lion safari. Also visitors can avail opportunity to slight sloth bears in their natural habitat through safari bus service.

Lion Safari

Special protected vehicles take you through dense forests towards exploring the lions. Spotting lions in a vehicle is charismatic. 

Bear Safari

Seeing bears in their habitats while traversing through the jungle drives the visitors into the wild and exotic environment. 

Herbivores Safari

A round of trip spotting the beautiful Barking deer, Spotted Deer, Sambars and Peafowls etc. pleases the visitors. 

How to Visit

Booking The Tickets

Nandankanan Zoo and Botanical Garden has the facilities to choose from offline and online tickets booking. The fees are very nominal. Extra fees are to be given for taking the camera inside the zoo. 

How To Reach

By Air

The nearest airport to Nandankanan is Bhubaneswar Airport. From the airport, Nandankanan Zoo is reachable by bus, taxi or auto rickshaws. The distance is only 12.5 km. 

By Rail

From Bhubaneswar railway station, Nandankanan is easily accessible through taxi, auto rickshaw or bus. 

By Road

By road, Nandankanan is about 12.5 km from Bhubaneswar. Private vehicles, Taxi or rickshaws can lead to the destination. 

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