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In Gandhinagar, the capital of the western Indian state of Gujarat lies the Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park. This park is home to the one of the world’s largest dinosaur fossil remains dating back some 66 million years. Here’s everything you need to know about India’s Jurassic Park, a treasure trove of dinosaur remains.
Established by the Geological Survey of India and managed by the Gujarat Ecological and Research Foundation (GEER), the Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park is home to the fossilised dinosaur remains found in Raiyoli, a tiny village in the Balasinor town of Gujarat, which is in fact, the world’s second largest hatchery and third largest dinosaur excavation site.
Stretching 428 hectares (1057.6 acres), this park has dinosaur fossils from the Cretaceous era, which ended almost 66 million years ago. The park has three major sections – Dinosaur and Fossil Section, the Zoo and the Botanical Garden. However, there are other sections too, visitors can see and find out more about avifauna, Planet Earth, mammals, plants, reptiles and marine life
This section showcases millions of years of dinosaur history with its display of life-size fibreglass dinosaur statues as well as fossils and eggs of varying sizes. The remarkable statues on display here include Iguanodon, Brachiosaurus, Megalosaurus, Stegosaurus, Barapasaurus, Titanosaurus, Antarctosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex. The fossils and eggs on display are from different sites in Gujarat, including Balasinor, Kheda, the Songhir Bagh basin, Vadodara and Panchmahal district.
Some of the eggs on display come from the village of Raiyoli, which is approx 113 kilometres (70.2 miles) from the park. Raiyoli was the site where the fossilized dinosaur eggs and other remains came to palaeontologists’ attention in early 1980s, while they were conducting a routine mineral survey of the area. The geologists have excavated the area and discovered around 10,000 dinosaur eggs, belonging to thirteen different species of dinosaurs, thus making the Raiyoli excavation site the second largest dinosaur hatchery in the world. The Geological Survey of India brought some of the finds from this site to the Indodra Dinosaur and Fossil Park for the visitors to marvel at these fascinating species.
The richest find at the village of Rayoli was Rajasaurus Narmadensis (princely lizard from the Narmada Valley), a dinosaur unique to India. It is a 30-foot (9.1 meter) long carnivore with a crested horn and heavy body, and is said to be over 65 million years old. Today, the site holds a six meter tall replica of Rajasaurus Narmadensis, made of mud, cement and metal, with a brass exterior. Tourists come from all over to see the statue. Remnants of non-dinosaurs were also found at the site in the form of a fossilised snake called Sanajeh.
Home to a wide range of animal and bird species. Nearly 180 species of birds can be found at the park. Visitors can catch a glimpse of mammals like the four-horned antelope, leopard, sambar, blackbuck and jackal. There is also a section dedicated to different species of snakes and another for sea mammals featuring juvenile and adult blue whale skeletons. It’s a perfect spot for bird lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.
With over 300 species of trees from different agro-climatic regions of Gujarat, 250 medicinal herbs, 200 cacti species and a green house, this tranquil botanical garden within the park is a great place for you to reconnect with nature.
The nearest airport is the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, which is approx. 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) away from the Indroda Dinosaur and Fossil Park. The nearest railway station is the Ahmedabad Railway Station, which is approx. 23 kilometres (14.2 miles) from the park. From the airport/railway station, visitors can take a cab/taxi the rest of the way.
The best time to visit the park is from October until March and it is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8 am until 6pm.
Entry fee: Free for children under five; INR 20 for Adults
The village of Raiyoli is approx 97 kilometres (60.2 miles) west of Ahmedabad and can be reached by road. There is a homestay option in Raiyoli – the Garden Palace Heritage Homestay. Tours of the Raiyoli site are available on request by Aaliya Sultana Babi, who is also called as the ‘Dinosaur Princess’.