Located very close to the state capital of Odisha, Bhubaneswar, Nandankanan meaning the garden of the Gods is a pristine zoological park which has own worldwide accolades for its population of the rarest white tiger. Spread across the forests of Chandaka the zoological park with an amalgamation of a wildlife sanctuary, a Zoo, a Botanical garden enclosing the splendid Kanjia Lake, an amusement park and many trails of nature scattered across the park, a visit to Nandankanan is a delightful retreat for the tourists. 67 varieties of mammals, 18 varieties of reptiles and 81 species of birds can be noticed in the forests of Nandankanan.
The park has the Lion and Tiger safaris where the kings of Jungles the giant Asiatic lions and the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers can be seen roaming in their natural habitats. The specially designed vehicles ensuring your outmost protection takes you inside the life of these Royals and make you witness the incredible view of their lifestyle. The zoo inside the premises of the park has a part of these giant beasts in captivity.
The zoo came into existence after the idea was shared by the National Geographic Magazine after it covered the story of a wild tigress who wandered in to the captivity meant for the tigers and choose to stay their instead of going back to her natural habitat. The act was surprising as the tigress unlike her nature has chosen a protected enclosure instead of wandering freely in her habitat. The trivia of the tigress inspired the authorities to set up the Nandankanan Zoo.
The zoo is being the first of its kind for implementing the first captive breeding center for crocodiles. But it came into world wildlife map and got the recognition of the worldwide animal conservationists in 1980 when three litters of white tigers were born to Ganga and Deepak, a tawny normal father daughter duo carrying the rare genes of white tigers. The research and studies of the zoo authorities of Nandankanan has been acclaimed all over since then and it has sent the white tiger cubs to zoos worldwide. Today around 34 white tigers are existing amidst the thick forest of this Zoological park.
The zoological park has also been instrumental in successfully carrying out the breeding programs for the endangered Asiatic Lions, 3 Indian Crocodilians, Sangai Lion tailed macaque, Indian Pangolin, Mouse Deer and Nilgiri Langur. The park is also the home for a variety of fresh water fishes exhibited in around 34 aquaria. The reptile park showcases a wide range of these creeping creatures that include several species of Crocodiles, Lizards, Turtles and Snakes.
The Botanical garden at Nandankanan has 400 varieties of Bonsai, a Cacti house displaying numerous species of Cactus, a nursery which is engaged in display and sales of plants. The garden inside the Botanical park includes the following:
It is the dwelling for around 200 medicinal plants, shrubs and herbs having medicinal values.
This garden displays a typical Japanese Tsukiyama-Niwa style garden.
Stretched in an area of around 11 acres, it has around 100 varieties of trees, plants herbs and shrubs.
The ropeway in the zoo connects it with the botanical garden. Activities like Boating, Toy Train and Elephant rides are immensely popular amidst the kids while the groves of the trees and lakes around provide an ideal location for family outings and picnics.
Best time to visit Nandankanan is between October to March.
Bhubaneswar is the nearest Airport and the park is at a distance of 20 kms from Bhubaneswar.
The nearest railhead is Bhubaneswar it is well connected to all the major railheads of India.
Its proximity to the state capital Bhubaneswar keeps it well connected via road.