Gujarat, the state famous for its rich heritage and culture, art and craft, fairs and festivals, warmth of its people and mouth-watering cuisine now has a new attraction for tourists, no we are not talking about Statue of Unity. The state which boasts India’s only Heritage City in the form of Ahmedabad to being a home for the desert festival at Kutch, Gujarat’s cultural extravaganza in addition to its serene and blissful pilgrimage destinations in the form of Shakti Peeth at Ambaji, Pavagadh, etc., have attracted one and all from within and beyond the borders.
Gujarat has always carried an element of surprise that has caught the eyes of one and many across the globe. Gujarat was also home to dinosaurs in the pre-historic times. It is one of the very few states in the country that has a rich treasure of fossilised remains of dinosaurs. The Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park in the capital city is the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs in the world. The Forest Department of the State started its plantation and renovation work in the 1970. Also known as India’s Jurassic Park, it is spread in an area of 428 hectares and contains a number of sections like the Dinosaur section, fossil section, etc. From life sized dinosaur statues to fossilised eggs that range from the size of duck eggs to canon balls, palaeontologists suggest that the eggs here are more than 65 million year old.
It is believed that the area in and around park could have been the dwelling place of these gigantic creatures. Approximately 100 km away from Gandhinagar, we find a place the displays a rustic charm in its air and culture. Situated in Mahisagar district is Balasinor which boasts its old world charm there are also a number of Hindu temples, monuments, etc. In addition to the magic of culture and traditions, the village of Rayoli in Balasinor could have been one of the shooting destinations for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Paleontologists accidentally came across the fossil remains of bones and eggs in 1980s.
Since then, the place has been flooded with researchers and a number of excavations have taken place in the area the findings of which revealed the fact that there were more than 13 species of dinosaurs that thrived around 65 million years ago. The fossil park here contains life sized statues of those giant creatures and further excavations have found that a squat, thick-legged, heavy-bodied carnivorous dinosaur with a crested horn, Rajasaurus Narmandensis, King of Narmada, (the first half of the name comes from Raja or King due to the crested horn and the second half of the name originates due to its geographical location which was near the river Narmada).
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This creature belonged to the carnivore family of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Another interesting display is that of the fossilised snake that fed on dinosaur eggs. A skeleton of a 3.5 meter fossilised snake is believed to have fed on the eggs of Sauropods. It is probably the first evidences of feeding behaviour in a fossilised primitive snake.
A visit to the fossil park will surely make you dig deep into the history of dinosaurs in Gujarat. State’s Tourism Department has opened an Informatics Centre at Balasinor which is equipped with a Time Machine, 5-D theatre, 3-D film, a vivid display of mesozoic times, souvenir shop, etc. The new Centre and Museum was inaugurated by Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday in Balasinor.
A giant sculpture of the Rajasaurus Narmandensis will be on display in addition to a display depicting the evolution of Earth. The museum will depict as many as 40 sculptures that will throw on a light on their size, shape, habits and habitat, etc. These patterns have been prepared after careful study done by paleontologists over the years. A Fossil Park Development Society has been established in order to maintain this ultra modern museum.
The museum is spread in an area of over 25,000 sq. feet with 10 galleries spread in the basement and the ground floor depicting various forms of displays (films and exhibitions). An exclusive 3-D film is prepared on Rajasaurus Narmadensis. Other galleries display details on Dinosaurs of India and Gujarat, Fossil Exhibits and many other features that will bring out the child in you.
One can see this museum through digital, print and static form. The state government has not only catered to those seeking information on dinosaurs and their fossils, but also to kids by creating a Dino Fun for Kids area which will be interactive and amusing. The atrium features an exact replica of the habitat of these creatures. A step in the atrium will transport you 65 million years back. Fascinating enough for a visit, what are you waiting for?