The zoo charges for entry are Adults: Rs.20, Children: Rs.10 and for Photo camera: Rs.25. You can see many varieties of animals, birds, fishes in the zoo. The zoo is situated on a large forest land with lot of space for each animals, so the area you need to cover is quite huge. There seems to be lot of vacant areas with no animals and the overall animal count seems to be low compared to the area of the zoo. You can cover the entire zoo in multiple ways: by walk
by renting a cycle (just after the entrance in front of Hotel Tamilnadu)
buy a ride in the electric golf-carts (you need to wait for this in a queue)
buy a ticket in the zoo tours (in motor van or trams, these are to be booked in advance for the same day)
We went there in the afternoon (in the scorching sun, which was not a good idea) around 1:30PM. By the time we went options 2,3,4 were not available for us – so we took the trip by walk. We saw the animals near the entrance (Monkeys, etc.), then the birds and so on. There are adequate number of resting area (shades) provided for sitting and relaxing, Toilet facilities are okay. The zoo severely lacks in food courts and cafeterias. Inside the zoo area there are a Aavin ice-cream booth, a small snack shop and in the entrance a restaurant Hotel Tamilnadu owned by Tamilnadu Government. After spending nearly two hours walking, we were tired and hungry – we wanted to get some snacks and my son wanted to eat a ‘dosa’. At that time we were half-way inside the zoo, we walked all the way back to the entrance and went to Hotel Tamilnadu hoping for some eatables. To our utter dismay the restaurant was in bad condition (water stagnating on the floor), people having arguments with the billing counter staff (only one for a crowded zoo) and non-availability of any food. They don’t seem to be serving Dosa/Idly or any other light snack – only rice items, veg and non-veg biryani’s which too had ran out very soon. This re-enforced my general view that Governments (that too in India) have no business running a service industry, Hotel industry is a great example of that and you can add Resorts, Airlines to that list. We decided to cut-short our trip and came out of the zoo. The parking lot attendant helped us by suggesting a “Hotel Sangeetha” which was on the other side of the national highway, just opposite to the zoo. We drove down there, had some good Dosas and Fruit-Juice, came back re-energized.
Post the Auroville Marathon and celebrations we decided to go via Mahabalipuram (60 km from Pondicherry) – Chennai bypass. It would be a long ride and still we started late aft 10.
Mahabalipuram (also known as Mamallapuram is a town in Kancheepuram district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It has an average elevation of 12 metres (39 feet). Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th century, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we reached Mahabalipuram we quickly bought the tickets and started out date with history. Now Mahabalipuram has a lot of monuments intact and it seems Tsunami in 2004 also uncovered some of them. The details one could get at http://www.mahabalipuram.co.in These are Panch Rathas, Trimurthi cave, Mandapams, Arjuna’s Penance, Adivaraha Temple and Krishna’s Butter Ball. At Panch Rathas There were some amazing stone carvings we discovered in many temples as in the pic below. The Shore temple (below) was the highlight centuries old still standing there majestically. Roy had joined us at the Shore Temple. After a trailblazing photography session with our SLRs.
Before visiting Mahabalipuram, we visited Tambaram and had lunch at Domino's Pizza. After having an awesome mamamiia pizza. We then went to Mahabalipuram and thus spent our day at CHENNAI.