The Capital is an ideal setting for the scientifically inclined, or those who have the burning zeal to do something for the environment. Go birdwatching in the biodiversity parks, get introduced to the 70 fish species found in the Yamuna river, check out what’s being done to protect and save the river... The science centres in the city, too, have a wealth of information to those who are interested.
Yamuna Biodiversity Park, Near Wazirabad village
Spanning about 457 acres near Wazirabad village, the Yamuna Biodiversity Park has two major zones. One is for visitors and the other is a nature reserve zone. It features a conservatory for fruit-bearing trees such as guava, sapota, pomegranate and lemon; a herbal garden; a butterfly conservatory, a sacred grove (growing plants of religious significance), a Bambusetum with a variety of bamboo species, and wetlands which attract 5,000-6000 migratory birds. “All species of fishes – 70 –- found in the Yamuna now exist in the water bodies of the park as well,” says CR Babu, prof emeritus at the Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, Delhi University, and also the project in-charge for the Delhi Development Authority’s biodiversity parks. Wild boars which inhabited the area 100 years ago can be spotted here again, so can wildcats, he adds. Some of the bird species that have nested and bred here are the darter, pond heron, white eye, and purple sunbird.
The park also has a nature interpretation centre to promote nature education among students.
Situated 15km north-east of Connaught Place and 4km north of ISBT, the park can be reached from:
* East Delhi through Bhajanpura
* South and central Delhi through ISBT
* North Delhi through Burari
Visitors should come in groups who are then taken around by a guide or a forest officer.
Ticket: Entry free
Timings: 10am-5pm; Sunday closed
Nehru Planetarium, Teen Murti Bhawan, Teen Murti Marg
A wing of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, Nehru Planetarium aims at promoting astronomy among school and college students. It engages amateur astronomers as well. It hosts live interactions and programmes for visitors, students and amateur astronomers. Recently, during the transit of Venus, “Observations were conducted in collaboration with the Amateur Astronomers Association, Delhi (AAAD), and support from Vigyan Prasar for the construction of the special dark room for projection.” The planetrium’s sky theatre screens English and Hindi shows about astronomy. The planetrium is the meeting ground for AAAD.
Ticket: Rs. 50 (for visitors above 12 years)
Timings: 11.30am and 3pm (English shows); 1.30pm and 4pm (Hindi shows); (special shows for school children at 9.30am and 10.30 am). Closed on Monday and national holidays
National Science Centre, Near Gate No.1, Bhairon Road, Pragati Maidan
The National Science Centre (NSC) has galleries with models and other exhibits on themes such as water, our science and technology heritage, human biology, pre-historic life, fun science, information revolution, and emerging technologies. “There are three galleries I’d specifically recommend for undergraduate and postgraduate students,” says Anurag Kumar, senior curator, NSC. “One is on science and technology heritage, which may interest even history students. The other is on information technology which gives a brief account of the entire development information technology starting from cave paintings which were the first communication man used, then verbal communication, coded communication, printing, telegraph, telephone, and finally the internet. The third gallery is on emerging technologies where we show biotechnology, nanotechnology, communication technology, space technology, transportation and ocean technology,” he says. “We are also coming up with a gallery on nuclear power in cooperation with Nuclear Power Corporation of India. It’ll come up in about a year and a half.”
Ticket: Rs. 20 (for adults); Rs. 10 (for college-organised trips)
Timings: 10am-5.30pm, all days (except Holi and Diwali)
Delhi Greens, 9873124937,
Delhi Greens, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, organises trips and excursions as well as events such as workshops. It also keeps members posted (through its blog) on environmental news and activities in the city. One of its major initiatives is urban eco-tourism. In the half-day eco-tour, undertaken every third Sunday of the month (except in summers), participants are shown Delhi’s physical and natural heritage. “We show them the Delhi ridge, the baolis (water bodies), the river, forests (like Rajokri), the Asola wildlife sanctuary,” says Govind Singh, director (honorary), Delhi Greens. Their other programme is Discover Delhi, which involves going on nature trails at places like Ferozeshah Kotla “to understand the heritage as well as its ecological significance,” explains Singh.
Besides, the NGO holds workshops on ‘kabaad se jugaad’ where you learn to turn waste into useable items such as necklaces and invites. The venues include Delhi University and Teen Murti Bhawan. Delhi Greens gives new members a gift, which these days is a cloth bag. To register, contact the NGO through the website.
Annual membership fee: Rs. 200
Timings: Usually Sundays (for eco-tours and Discover Delhi)
Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi,
The Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi’s (AAAD’s) activities include public interactions on astronomy-related events like eclipses, transits of planets over the sun, meteor showers, etc. “We also at times participate in camps where we teach astronomy to people,” says Raghu Kalra of AAAD. Members meet at the Nehru Planetarium every Sunday. Membership is open to people of all ages. The membership form, available at www.aaadelhi.org, can be submitted to AAAD at the meeting point on Sunday.
Annual membership fee: Rs. 600
Timings: Noon (every Sunday)