A look at the newly opened biodiversity museum in Thiruvananthapuram.

In pics When an old boathouse in Kerala was turned into a biodiversity museumPics: Sreekesh Raveendran Nair.
news Tourism Saturday, June 09, 2018 - 15:19

The building and a good part of the land had been lying useless for a long, long time. It used to be where the many boats that came to Thiruvananthapuram stopped once upon a time. When the boats stopped coming, Vallakadavu was forgotten. Till some years ago, when the State Biodiversity Board picked it up and decided to turn it into a museum. And this week, the century old building has turned into a musuem, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurating it. 

“Back then people would come in boats and get down at Chackai. But you couldn’t stop for too long there. So the boats would go on and park at Vallakkadavu, like at a garage,” historian M.G. Sasibooshan says. 

Even now you could see the Amayizhanjan Canal at the back of the building. With the rains some of the water has seeped into the pond at the back, where the museum has put varieties of fish and turtles and reptiles. Inside too, there is a large display of sea shells and corals and other ‘treasures from the sea’.

“It was taken up first by the Tourism department, passed on to the Environment Board and then the Biodiversity Board,” says Vishnu Thulasidharan Nair, supervisor of the museum. 

The renovation work started in 2014, he says. Apart from the kiosks and panels and exhibits of wild life, there is a room dedicated to a new concept the team has developed – Science On Sphere or SOS. A rotating globe that switches colours and displays pictures, information, weather updates, real time, this is perhaps the best part of the new museum. 

It provides the satellite view of the earth along with live programmes, developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The data comes from NASA, says project associate Ajmi U.R. “This includes cloud formations of the past and present times, and predictions of the near future, climate change etc. We hope to add a version in Malayalam,” she says.

A 3D theatre is at the entrance. Vishnu also shows us recordings of 25 bird sounds, including the musical whistles of the Malabar Whistling or Choola Kakka. There are aquariums and vertical gardens outside. Stuffed animals of the endangered species inside.

Rice varieties are on a floor below. Coloured panels next to the exhibits display basic information. “Kerala constitutes only 1.8 per cent of the geographical area of India but it accommodates 28.41 per cent of the flowering plants occurring in the country,” says one. Next to a large exhibit of greenery, a placard quotes Tagore: “Trees are Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.”

 
 

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