Society

Kids’ day out

Visitors at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo Photo: S. Mahinsha

Visitors at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo Photo: S. Mahinsha

Children love outings. Period. And it doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy. There are many interesting and entertaining places in and around the city where you can spend some quality time with your kids and have a lot of fun too. On Children’s Day today, MetroPlus checks out a few child-friendly destinations nearby that are easy on the pocket.

JUNGLE BOOK

Thiruvananthapuram zoo

It’s the home of Malar, the white tiger, Ruth, the anaconda, Ammu and Appu, a mischievous mother and son duo of monkeys, Sangeetha, the jaguar, lions Ayush and Aiswarya, Jadu, the rhino, Bhavani the Himalayan bear, Sindhu and Ravi, the sloth bears...Take your child on a voyage of discovery through the jungles of the world at the city zoo. It’s around 36 acres of open and closed exhibits, so expect a fair bit of walking – and carrying your child, especially if it’s a pre-schooler you’re taking along. And that’s up and down innumerable hills, slopes and stairs! The best bet? Write off the extra cost and just take a motorised ‘buggy’ that sets off from the zoo’s entrance every hour. First up are the macaques, cobras, owls and vultures, followed by the huge aviary with storks, pelicans, cranes, peacocks and the like, the river otter enclosure (try a game of find the otter with your kid) and the crocodile/gharial enclosure. It’s easy enough to explain what each exhibit is to your kid for there are information boards in front of each, though at times you would have to go search for it. It’s then on to the beautiful African parrots, cockatoos and the like, but you’ll have to squint to see them thanks to the thick grills on the cage. You can see rhinos and hippos, especially the baby hippo, and the huge herds of spotted deers, Sambar deer and antelopes, and bears and tapirs and Gaurs before you climb up to the zoo’s big cat enclosures. Here you can find ominous looking leopards, tigers, lions, jaguars and so on. Be sure to keep an eye on the kids and ensure they stay on your side of the protective fence. There are more tigers, deer, crocodiles, parakeets, flightless birds and peacocks on the way out. And last but not least is the zoo’s new piece-de-resistance – the green anacondas. There’s usually a fairly long queue to get into the exhibit and it’s fairly crammed, not to mention hot inside, but the sight of the anacondas and other snakes more than makes up for it. If you are lucky you can see the anacondas being fed a chicken each! Do pop in to the adjacent Natural History Museum with its full-scale animal skeletons and models, stuffed animals, figurines, and so on. Wind up your trip with a visit to the playground.

It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5.15 p.m. Expect crowds at all times. Monday holiday.

FUN WITH SCIENCE

Kerala State Science and Technology Museum and Priyadarshini Planetarium

It need not only be fun all the time, you know. How about a bit of learning too – for you and for your child? Then look no further than the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum and Priyadarshini Planetarium at PMG. It’s a maze of galleries – there are 10, at present – packed with interesting exhibits on everything from popular science, electricity and electronics and robotics to automobiles, mathematics, and astronomy. For example, in the space gallery, where you can learn a lot about Indian and international innovations and journeys through space, they do a daily prediction of the night sky in the city, which the friendly and enthusiastic young staff members explain is done by observing the moon. Stumped trying to explain the quadrilateral theorem to your child? You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to understand thanks to the physical explanation of it and other math theories and equations at the museum’s mathematics gallery... Apart from galleries, the museum also has a medicinal plants garden, a palaeontology garden with fearsome dinosaur models from the Triassic and Jurassic era, a butterfly garden, a 3D show at extra cost but a must-do for the sheer fun of the experience, and so on. No visit to the museum is complete without watching a show at the Planetarium, home to India’s largest publicly available telescope. It’s brand new and available for night sky observation and astrophotography on request. The show, hosted by ‘Galileo’ and projected on the dome-like screen, which you can sit back and enjoy on comfy recliner chairs, is a ready-reckoner on astronomy and space science (word of warning: the show in Malayalam is rather difficult to comprehend, if you are not familiar with space science terms in the language). The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

CHILLING BY THE BEACH

Shanghumughom Beach

Although there is a crowd at the beach anytime of the day, this particular stretch of sand is usually crammed in the evenings with families who stop by for some fresh air and for some quality time with their loved ones. There are quite a few fun things to do on at the beach, right from making sandcastles to riding teacups. The beach is perfect for a stroll and is also the place to just chill and watch the waves rise and ebb. Dip your toes in the water. However, we wouldn’t recommend taking a dip in the sea. Young kids will enjoy the mini amusement park with its Ferris Wheel and toy train. Those who want their wards to learn how to ride a bicycle or get first-hand knowledge about traffic rules, can head towards Chacha Nehru Traffic Training Park. Before you go back home you must have some bajji, sundal or ice-cream on the beach. If you fancy a heavier meal, there are several restaurants and shacks nearby. Fly a kite, play ball, watch the sun set… the beach is a place to be

ABRACADABRA!

Magic Planet, Kazhakoottam

For a little bit of magic, head to Magic Planet at Kinfra Video and Film Park near Kazhakoottam. “It’s a mix of education and entertainment,” says magician Gopinath Muthukad, the brain behind the park that completed a year last month. There’s a fair bit to do here, so much so that they say you can’t cover it all in one day! But we do have our favourites. Get ready to get lost in the mirror maze, for example. The excitement lies in finding your way out. Or try crossing a narrow bridge inside a rotating drum. You’ll most probably end up on the ground! There are a lot of street magicians in the park. One of them ‘grows’ mango tree from a seed within minutes. Another magician’s signature trick is spitting nails by the dozen out of his mouth. Others will mesmerise you with tricks with coins, cards, balls, currency notes, rings and bottles, vanishing acts, illusion shows, mind games that test your EQ and IQ... There is an arena where you can get hands on experience about the ‘power of magic’ and another section which unfolds the history of magic. A rendezvous with Harry, the brand ambassador of the place, is also not to be missed. So too a magical presentation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest , where you also get to see some vanishing acts. The newly-opened Kids’ Rainbow Planet also has a host of activities for children in the age group of four to 10. Don’t miss out on the closing act of the day, the great Indian rope trick. You can either book tickets online (www.magicplanet.in) or dial 9447014800. The park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Mondays.

SEA OF ADVENTURE

Marine Research Aquarium, Vizhinjam

It’s a bit of a drive to Vizhinjam but its worth the look of wonder on your child’s face as he or she catches a glimpse of the vibrant aquatic life. Children who are fans of the film Finding Nemo will be excited to see Nemo or rather several Nemos swimming around in their pretty tanks. Remember Ursula’s evil sidekicks, Jetsam and Flotsam in The Little Mermaid ? They are there too. From the information cards in this section of the aquarium you learn that ‘Nemo’ is a clownfish and that Jetsam and Flotsam are Giant Moray Eels. Apart from scenes from under the sea, children can also learn something about what’s life like underwater. For instance, did you know that the Blue Damsel fish is peaceful but can be aggressive toward others of its kind? Or that the Maroon Clown is considered the most beautiful variety of clownfish? If you are lucky, you might get to touch one of the several turtles in the aquarium. Do take note of the sign that says you shouldn’t tap on the glass tanks in the aquarium. Also, while taking those selfies, don’t forget to turn off the flash button. Open daily from 9.30 a.m. till 5 p.m., with a lunch break from 1 p.m. till 1.30 p.m., the Marine Research Aquarium is fascinating time well spent.


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Printable version | Jun 26, 2022 10:36:23 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/childfriendly-destinations-in-and-around-the-city/article7873206.ece