Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Arignar Anna Zoological Park is situated at Vandalur which is 32 Km away from the metropolitan city of Chennai.   It was the first zoo in India, founded in 1855.  Currently, it is the largest zoological park of the country.  This place also serves as rescue and rehabilitation center for animals.

I’ve heard a lot about this zoo from Masood.  The university he went to was close to the zoo, so close in fact that the students could hear the lion roar very clearly!  A narrow two-way road is what separates the walls of the university and the zoo.   But the thing is, neither Masood nor his friends ever visited the zoo while they were attending university. In fact, they used to make fun of people who came from distant cities to visit the animals.  Little did Masood know then that one day his own wife will bring him to that same zoo!

I had my first meal in Chennai here, at the zoo cafeteria.  We arrived in the city around 11 am, and it had been crazy until we left that evening.  The auto rickshaw driver kept asking, “Sir, you go airport?  I bring you airport.”  To which, to my complete amazement, Masood replied in Tamil (the local dialect) that we were going to a hotel.  I didn’t know Masood could speak Tamil!  What’s more amazing was that the driver understood him!

The zoo was a long drive away from where we stayed at, so after washing up and changing clothes, we took a bus to Vandalur.  How we managed to reach the bus stop is another painful story that I wish not recall at the moment.  Needless to say, it’s very difficult to be in this city unless you speak (and read) Tamil.  And that’s how we ended up having the first meal of the day in a zoo at 3 pm, where a staff stood next to me, waiting for me to finish my fried rice so that he could take the plate away.

I couldn’t help but take the picture shown above, because this is how people usually take pictures in a zoo.  There’s a couple of animals in an enclosure, a group of people standing in front, and a person who holds out a camera and makes sure the shot includes everyone.   That is not wrong, of course.  Except that when you go through their pictures,  they all look the same.    Next time you go to a zoo, try interesting compositions.  I took my tips from here.

There’s this annoying wire near the Indian Bison’s mouth, but since I do not know my way around Photoshop yet, I do not have the patience to sit and edit it out.  I had a lot of fun experimenting with the 70-300 mm lens that I took with me.  I used the tripod in some shots.  And this was my first attempt at zoo photography.

On our way out, a young boy pointed at Nikon (and the long lens plus hood attached to it) and told his friend with great excitement, “Look!  That’s a zoo camera!”

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29 Responses to Arignar Anna Zoological Park

  1. I thought they understood Hindi across India. I am amazed to know that things become so difficult in Chennai if one does not speak Tamil.

    The third last picture (people being photographed) is marvellous. Except the people, the rest looks like a painting.

    • nadia says:

      Ahmed Irfan, actually this surprised me too, because I had always assumed that Hindi is taught in schools all over India. However, I came across an article on the web that states that the people of Tamil Nadu are extremely passionate about their language, so much so that if the Hindi language is introduced, they fear that Tamil might be rendered a secondary language in the state.

      In an address in 1962, former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, C N Annadurai, made the following statements opposing imposition of Hindi: “It is claimed that Hindi should be common language (in India) because it is spoken by the majority. Why should we then claim the tiger as our national animal instead of the rat which is so much more numerous? Or the peacock as our national bird when the crow is ubiquitous?”

      Annadurai kept up the rhetoric in Parliament, saying, “Since every school in India teaches English, why can’t it be our link language? Why do Tamils have to study English for communication with the world and Hindi for communication within India? Do we need a big door for the big dog and a small door for the small dog? I say, let the small dog use the big door too!”

      The language issue still evokes strong passions among Tamils and the words of Annadurai are fondly remembered.


      • Oh…they seem to be really emotional about this language thing 🙂

        • Lat says:

          We sure do! 😀

          Actually I was puzzled as to why Tamizhans do not speak Hindi in India.Afterall it’s their national language.Indonesians,Malaysians and other countries do emphasis strictly the rule of law regarding language.Indonesian goes a step further to mandatorily making the people have Indonesian names!

          I suppose India is different with it’s proud cultural heritage spanning from the time of the various kingdoms in the south which mostly spoke Tamil.And she being the world’s most democratic country seems to work for people like Annadurai and his countrymen.The southern people are often called Dravidans and the northern people Aryans.Perhaps the difference in the languages between this two is meant to show more of the history than anything else.

  2. Shahan says:

    Lolzz at ZOO CAMERA 🙂
    Nice to know about your escapade to the zoo .. but the point i was thinking of was , we do not value our things or places that are a part of us or something we grew old with.. as Masood bhai and his friends used to mock people coming to the zoo .. we all do this sometime or the other .. For example if ask us the value of Dubai 🙂 .. why do people come here and stay in expensive hotels and eat expensive foods and spend hell amount of money just on amusement!

    If we value our things and own them … we will be valued in return!

    • Shahan says:

      Ohh .. and nice pics btw 🙂

    • nadia says:

      Shahan, I can’t believe you just compared Dubai to a zoo! LOOOL 😀 Lekin sach baat to yeh hai ke Dubai kissi zoo se kam nahi hai.

      But I agree, we take certain things for granted, which may mean very special for others.

      PS: I’ve been trying to convince the girls and Masood for a trip to Al Ain Zoo. It will be an amazing opportunity to practice the new lens, lekin koi maanta hi nahi hai, aur ab to garmi bhi barh gayi hogi 😦

  3. Heehee @ the boy calling your Nikon a zoo camera. B4 my sis got her Canon, I thought big cameras were only for professional people who take pics for money! We all have our stereotypes.

    • nadia says:

      LavendarClouds, I used to think the same too: that SLRs were only meant for professional photographers. But calling it a zoo camera is another thing 😀

  4. 'liya says:

    Were the animals active or sleepy? I was at Toronto Zoo recently and the animals were very strangely active, like they were on some kind of drugs or something :S

    • nadia says:

      Most were lazy, probably because of the summer heat. That made it easier for me to take pictures.

      You may be right about the animals being high on some drugs because I do not think animals kept in enclosures are normally very active.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ha ha..that was good description..
    btw.. u know when you reach “Chennai” (provided you are not a Tamilian)…. you are sure to get an out of the world experience [*pun intended*]

    Either Chennai-ians will understand English (that too in bits and pieces off-course) or Tamil..

    I remember once i went to a South Indian city and that too in one of the remote places of that city.. i needed to stop a passing auto-rickshaw..but nobody was able to understand me and my frens..
    we only knew one word that “Anna” means brother hence we said “Anna.. Illad pillad chillad” and to our surprise two auto-rickshaw wallas stopped in front of us !! 😀

    Btw it was nice to know that Masood Sir was knowing Tamil.. that would have surely made your trip comfortable as you would have been able to understand all the bill-boards and sign-boards.

    • nadia says:

      Anonymous, LOL @ your conversation with the rickshaw wallas! 😀

      We’d be totally lost if Masood didn’t know Tamil, because once a local knew he speaks the language, they become extremely helpful (and rickshaw walla charge less fare). Billboards are 80% of political nature, and yes, all (almost) are in Tamil.

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  7. Tiger picture is lovely! such an amazing animal!

    • nadia says:

      Thank you, Kirigalpoththa. It was late in the afternoon, and right after I took this picture the tiger turned its back towards us and decided to take a nap.

  8. Alisha says:

    Oh so you visited Chennai! 🙂 And it’s really true about the tamil thingy, even the billboards are in tamil. Sri Lankans speak a different dialect of Tamil and even we occasionally found it hard to understand what they said, especially when asked how much something costed! Good for you that Masood bro spoke tamil [picked it up at uni maybe? :-)] otherwise it would have been really difficult for you.
    And, did you go shopping there? I remember the Chennai Silks had some good saris…
    I guess my comment is quite late, been a while since I commented here [or any other blog, for that matter]. Just that I am quite busy juggling everything right now, pretty hectic. 🙂 Btw thanks a LOT for your wishes left on my blog. Take care Nadia!!

    • nadia says:

      Welcome back, Alisha. I missed you!

      Yes, we visited Chennai a few days ago. No shopping though because we were there only for the day (we had a train to catch at 8 pm that night).

      Oh, it truly helped that Masood spoke a bit of Tamil; you are right, he picked it up from uni 🙂

      You take care too, and keep us posted whenever you have time.

  9. Alisha says:

    Oh and your zoo pics are awesome masha Allah, especially the tiger one. 😀

  10. Leena S. says:

    lol @ zoo camera
    love the pictures…esp the tiger one 😀
    so wat i have heard abt chennai is actually true, its good in a way that they are proud of their language and dont want to give it up.

    • nadia says:

      Thank you, Leena. I agree that it’s a good thing to take pride in one’s language, but I also believe that everyone should be able to speak (even just the basics) the national language as well.

  11. Raheel says:

    You did a beautiful work with the camera.

  12. Really beautiful pictures!

    I love how you travel and visit so many places!

  13. masood says:

    I know how I spoke Tamil on that day, at first it took me sometime to recall tamil words and later on it blended with the typical tamil accent. I am sure the guys who thought that I knew Tamil would have got inspired more with my accent than the language…lol

    • nadia says:

      Hahaha! So that was the trick!!! I can’t say anything about your Tamil vocabulary, but I must say you got the accent right 😀

  14. Pingback: An Afternoon at the Mudumalai National Park «

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