In this age riddled with problems of industrialization, pollution, climate change, and threats of extinction and endangerment to plants and animals, man is depicted as the worst villain of sorts in the battle against nature, whether his part is wittingly or unwittingly done. Thus, when one comes across an experience that resonates with peaceful co-existence and symbiosis between man and his supposed victim, it is a great cause for celebration. That is exactly what the Guindy National Park stands for – a tribute to a healthy and thriving ecosystem of man, flora and fauna and a celebration of life as it should be.
Guindy National Park is situated in Mambalam, in the southern outskirts of the Chennai district. Encompassing 270 hectares of protected lands, it is one of the smallest national parks in all of India. It is also one of the few national parks that are nestled right at the heart of a metropolis in the Tamil Nadu state, making it easily accessible to locals and tourists alike. The park is made up of vast expanses of dry evergreen scrub lands and beautiful thorn forests, a picturesque lake and sparkling streams. Its lush greenery has then earned the park the name “the green lungs of Chennai.”
The park enjoys a strong historical background that dates way back to 1821 when it was purchased by the government of Tamil Nadu. The territory was then declared as reserved forest areas in 1910. Much later, it was Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who proclaimed that a portion of the Guindy forest be dedicated to children as a park. It was only in 1978, however, when the entire forest was declared as the Guindy National Park.
Part of the grounds was converted into a children’s park with a zoo that was intended to provide children with a natural environment where they can learn about animals and the important matters of biodiversity and conservation of life through the conduct of nature camps. As such, different species are kept in captivity, for the viewing pleasure of the public.
What makes this park so attractive as a tourist destination in Chennai City is the rich diversity of flora and fauna inhabiting the grounds. Guindy National Park is home to fourteen species of mammals including hundreds of black bucks which are found only in India, thousands of spotted deer, some jackals, elephants, jungle cats, Indian civets, porcupines, mongooses, bonnet monkeys, river otters, hedgehogs and pangolins.
A diversity of reptiles such as snakes, tortoises, geckos and amphibians can be found in the Snake Park. The park also offers refuge to more than a 130 species of birds, including honey buzzards, pariah kites, black winged kites, grey pelicans, cormorants, parakeets, quails, and tailor birds. A myriad of invertebrates also find shelter here, including more than 60 species of spiders and butterflies, ants, grasshoppers, crabs, snails, termites, slugs, mites, earthworms, millipedes and scorpions, all free to roam around the dry deciduous forests with very little interference from humans. The park also boasts of rare vegetation which is the tropical dry evergreen vegetation in addition to over 350 species of plant life full of trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers and grasses.
In the face of mounting infrastructure developments in the district, Guindy National Park remains one of the last strongholds of biodiversity and a pollution free environment that is deeply cherished by the residents of Chennai.