Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nehru Zoological Park of Hyderabad - Close Encounters with the Wild Kind

Visit a zoo? Not so hot with the idea. It isn’t usually a part of my travel itineraries. To be quite honest, I’d rather walk around a foreign neighborhood and watch people as they go about with their daily routine. But then, this was offered as part of an optional itinerary, so why not? It would be interesting to see what an Indian zoo looks like. The verdict? Not to shabby, thank heavens. I was glad I joined. Children, particularly, would love it.

Nehru, the first Indian Prime Minister.
Nehru Zoological Zoo opened in 1963. Named after India’s first Prime Minister - Jawaharlal Nehru, it’s one of the three biggest and most visited zoos in the country. Located near the Mir Alam Tank in the fringes of Hyderabad (it’s a considerable distance from the city central), the zoo is accessible through National Highway 7. The zoo is more specifically a part of Bahadurpurna in Toli Chowk, Hyderabad. It has an area of 380 acres (150 hectares). A complete visit would probably take half day to fully appreciate the zoological expanse.

I didn't have that much time; this being part of a tour. We were whisked off to a special safari jeep with bars protecting the windows. I settled on a window seat and relaxed.

The terrain was undulating, with dust-covered bushes and makeshift moats where animals could frolic in the warm sun. Once the gates slid open, our jeep was ushered into this artificial macrocosm. Not long after, we saw the 42-acre (17 hectares) span of what could be a jungle, parched but adequately vegetated. Punctuated by Lantana bushes and acacia trees, the land also has rocky outcroppings and concrete foot paths.

There were lions and bears, but its special attraction was those graceful tigers of India. Tigers, I was told, are the national animals of the country. The lions hail from the Gir Forest of Gujarat. The sloth bears, aka “honey bears” (like Pooh Bear, they love their honeys) were supposedly shy of visitors, but the few we saw  were particularly curious; one even peeped through our window. 

There were deers in another section of the park. There were supposedly more than these handful. In fact, the zoo has 250 species of animals so there was a lot to see. It’s also the perfect place to realize that these beautiful creatures are wild animals. They are not the cuddly stuffed teddies we could pat and hug. Having this in mind is important so we protect them, as well as ourselves, from fortuitous events - and accidents.

The safari is a special part of the zoo, thus requires a separate fee from the rather inexpensive zoo entrance fee; one of the cheapest in the region. I was glad that foreigners weren't taken advantage of. If this were in Delhi, I'd have been charged 250 rupees instead of 25 rupees.

If you were to go all the way to this zoological park, you might as well take the safari to make the trip well worth your while.  

Just outside the entrance, there are few auto rickshaws which can take you back to the city center. This was actually the last part of the tour (but decided to post this first) so we had the option to take our time here and hail a ride after.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

Gate opens. Our safari jeep were allowed in. The gates closes again.

Sloth bear says hello.

Relaxed in her environment, a Gujarati lion moves towards us.

The zoo is open Tuesday to Sunday, so do not go on a Monday. Zoo facilities include a train, boat, elephant rides, a jeep safari, a cafeteria, and they even have a guest house.


April to June - 8 AM to 5:30 PM
July to March - 8:30 AM to 5 PM

Zoo entrance is 20 rupees; another 20 rupees for use of camera; 100 rupees for video cameras; the safari ride is just 25 rupees. For more information, email them here:

A fruit and juice stand outside the zoo.

Their official website

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