The Best Places For Wildlife Enthusiasts to Visit in Chennai

A group of greater flamingos at the Pallikaranai Marshlands
A group of greater flamingos at the Pallikaranai Marshlands | ©Sriram Chatty/Wiki Commons
Arun Venkatraman

Indian cities are definitely not among the first destinations that come to mind when it comes to experiencing the country’s wildlife. However, Chennai is one of the few cities in India that is gifted with a rich wealth of wildlife activity. Apart from being one of the only cities to have a national park within its limits, Chennai is also home to a wide variety of destinations where visitors can truly get a taste of India’s diverse fauna. Here is a list of all the places in Chennai where you can feel as close to the jungle as you possibly can, all while staying within city limits.

1. Vandalur Zoo

Park, Zoo


Located just 15 km from Chennai, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, or Vandalur Zoo, is the largest park of its kind in India and is also one of the city’s most-popular tourist attractions. The park attracts more than two million visitors annually and is one of the largest repositories of fauna in the state. Spread over 512 hectares, the Vandalur Zoo is home to some 1,500 species of animals, birds and reptiles in over 160 enclosures, making it Chennai’s best destination to experience wildlife. Apart from animals local to the region, such as the Indian leopard, the gaur and the Indian elephant, the park is also home to some 46 endangered species, including the white tiger.

Aringnar Anna Zoological Park, Vandulur, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

A jaguar inside an enclosure at the Arignar Anna Zoological Park | © Padmanabhan07/Wiki Commons

2. Guindy National Park


A spotted deer inside the Guindy National Park
© Sudarsun Jayaraj/Wiki Commons
The Guindy National Park may be one of the country’s smallest national parks, but it has the unique distinction of being the only one located completely within the limits of a major urban centre. The National Park is sandwiched between two other sprawling green spaces in Chennai, the IIT Madras campus and the Raj Bhavan, and houses over 130 species of birds, 14 species of mammals and several hundred species of insects, butterflies and spiders. Together with its vast variety of flora, the National Park is one of the most-visited green spaces in the state, attracting some 700,000 visitors annually.

3. Chennai Snake Park and Children's Park

Forest, Park, Zoo

Bordering the sprawling Guindy National Park is the Chennai Snake Park and Children’s Park, which is one of the largest ex-situ conservation sites for reptiles in the city. Carved out the earlier forest regions of the ‘Guindy Lodge’, the Snake Park was conferred with the status of a medium zoo by the Central Zoo Authority in the 90s and became Chennai’s only zoo located within city limits. It’s a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts and conservationists and contains several reptile species, including the king cobra, python, vipers, and mammals such as deer, jackals and porcupines.

Guindy Snake Park and Children’s Park, Guindy, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

5. Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

Home to some 2,500 animals, including most major crocodile species, the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is one of Chennai’s best-known wildlife attractions. It is also an extremely important centre for the conservation of reptiles. The ‘Croc Bank’ is located along the scenic East Coast Road near Kovalam and houses over 14 of the world’s 23 major crocodilian species. It conducts crucial research in the area of herpetology as well. The trust also undertakes several conservation programmes all across the state and is involved in the rehabilitation of local animal dependent tribes, such as the snake-catching Irulas of Tamil Nadu.

Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, East Coast Road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Dozens of crocodiles within an enclosure at Madras Croc Bank | © Sumit Bisht/Wiki Commons

6. Turtle Corridor (Chennai-Mahabalipuram Coast)

Bridge, Forest

Chennai is one of the few urban centres where the endangered olive ridley turtles come for nesting. However, due to the increasing urbanization of the city’s coastal areas, the nesting activity had taken a serious blow and had been declining for years, until volunteer groups and government departments took up the cause and started serious conservation efforts. During the first few months of every year, Chennai sees a large number of student volunteers and conservation activists take part in ‘Turtle Walks’ along the city’s beaches to make the region safe for the breeding of turtles. As of now, the Forest Department has already established a hatchery for olive ridley turtles near Adyar’s Broken Bridge. Volunteer groups, like the Student Sea Turtle Conservation Network and the Tree Foundation, undertake routine walks on the beaches of Neelankarai and Sholinganallur to aid in conservation efforts. Over the years, Chennai’s Turtle Walks have gone from simply being a conservation effort to becoming an integral cultural activity and a unique wildlife experience in Chennai.

Neelangarai Beach, East Coast Road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Olive Ridley Sea Turtles use the beaches between Chennai and Pondicherry as nesting grounds | © PinkyHalder/Wiki Commons

7. IIT Madras


Deer IIT Madras

The IIT Madras is one of Chennai’s largest and best-known educational institutions. However, apart from being home to some of the brightest minds in the country, the sprawling campus also houses a rich wealth of the region’s indigenous wildlife. Carved out of the Guindy National Park in the 1950s, the IIT Madras campus is one of the best examples of harmonious coexistence between men and animals and it is home to several species of deer, such as the chital and the blackbuck, along with a rich population of monkeys.

IIT Madras Campus, Sardar Patel Road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

The IIT Madras Campus has a rich population of several deer species, such as the chital and the blackbuck | © Masatran/Wiki Commons

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article