VGP Marine Kingdom
Wondering where to take your kids for the Holidays. Think no further, just take them to the VGP Marine Kingdom – entertainment plus learning guaranteed. VGP (The Golden Beach guys) have always come up with unique and international concepts in their property to attract more and more customers. After the huge success of VGP Snow World, they have now kept the promise of bringing a state of art underwater tunnel aquarium to Chennai - VGP Marine Kingdom. This article is a review of my experience in visiting this facility which is located on ECR (East Coast Road), adjacent to VGP Golden Beach.
VGP Marine Kingdom
VGP Marine Kingdom is the first underwater aquarium in India. It is spread around75000 sq feet and constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 115 Cr. It has an underground tunnel aquarium which is 70m long with a walkalator. It’s understood that most of the equipment’s were imported to ensure best quality and standards. They have recently added Indoor Scuba diving as another attraction inside the facility. Most of the fish varieties are also imported.
I went without much expectation. Most of the aquariums I had seen until then are just large fish tanks with mostly decorative fishes like guppies and the mollies and very few real marine species. But VGP Marine Kingdom is way ahead and really surprised me. While it may not be as big as other international underwater aquariums, it’s definitely unique, grand and created aesthetically to give that international experience.
The facility is bang on the ECR and you can’t miss the large circular structure to your left, towards Mahabalipuram (If you don’t read the board, you may mistake it for some meditation centre though). They have a parking facility for Rs 50 (valet included), but you can find some space for yourself inside the vast property especially during week days. The tickets are priced high – its Rs 500 for Adults and Rs 400 for kids (free for kids <90 cms), but they are indeed considerate to some extent. The good point is that they don’t have any time restriction (as of now). You can easily spend two hours inside at leisure. The cost for scuba diving is Rs 3500’- including tax for a duration of close to 25 minutes. You are allowed to take photographs inside.
Once you enter, you are immediately asked to pose for a picture which is optional (chargeable, with background of your choice) and the photo will be given at exit. As you go further, you can see the exhibits which are lined up in both sides and then inside the basement. It’s not just a place to see the fishes behind glass fish tanks, they have actually made up an entire ecosystem with 5 unique themes - rainforest, gorge, mangrove, coastal and deep ocean sections. This gives a very authentic feel of their habitats though it’s largely artificial.
VGP Marine Kingdom Fish varieties
The exhibits are placed with good spacing and allows you to look at them at your leisure pace. The facility has around 35 large exhibits with more than 150 varieties of marine and fresh water species ranging from Sharks (in all sizes) to the famous clown and blue tang fish (Nemo and Dory). Some of the other prominent varieties are neon tetra fish, discus fish, marble angelfish, black ghost, lion fish, knife fish, scat fish, razor fish etc. There are other marine species as well like octopus, star fish, tortoises, sea weeds and corals too.
Underground Tunnel Aquarium
The project is work in progress, in the sense that they are trying to keep adding new species. The tunnel experience in VGP Marine Kingdom is the best of all. It’s definitely a unique experience to see the sharks swim overhead. The walkalator was not in use when I visited, probably they use it during the peak time to avoid overcrowding inside the tunnel. If you are visiting the facility around 11:00 am and 4:30 pm, you can see some divers feeding the fishes as well. I couldn’t explore the scuba diving activity (around 3.5 ft depth), however am told it’s worth a try.
There are some good photo opportunities for some exhibits, where you can sneak into the middle of the tank and take photos as if you are in the center of the action. There are also places to just sit and relax watching the fishes. Restrooms are provided inside the facility and was maintained well. There is food joint at the exit.
VGP Marine Kingdom is open between 9:00 am and 8:00 pm. There is no batch entry and hence you can walk-in anytime, but my suggestion is to keep atleast 2 hours at your disposal. Some might feel the ticket price is very high. But then this is an experience and in my opinion – definitely worth your money.
I hope you make a visit and let me know your comments below!