Mumbai for kids: Irla Dolphin Club

Jun 25, 2014, 08:58 IST | Vinitha Ramchandani

Mumbai for kidsEvery time I looked for a place to take the kids to, the Dolphin Aquarium name would come up.

Finally we head there and the dome of the Irla Dolphin Aquarium (IDA) looms promisingly.

When we get off, however, the exteriors startle me.

Dolphin, I prompt and I’m nudged into the central atrium. The atrium is lined up with glass cases that contain fish.

Some are labeled, and some aren’t. We walk around examining the fish. I feel deflated. The entire atrium is empty except for us. At the door, someone is chopping bread into cubes that is being bagged.

You can buy food for the fish in the pond surounding the aquarium. I learn that this little space was built over an old dumping ground.

We get out of the aquarium and move to see the rest of this space. Built around the indoor aquarium is a pond where one can go boating. The water is murky, yet people are paddling in swan-shaped boats and throwing feed. Up come brightly coloured fish to eat the bread. Boating? I ask the kids. They say no.

Between the pond and the indoor aquarium is space where you can take a walk/jog, or sit around and watch the fish or feed the fish, or the water lilies that are grown. You can also take a train ride, or look at the assortment of birds that have been caged, or enjoy a snack or simply, be. This space is dotted with people doing different activities. The kids try the toy train. There is even a small temple here. Something for everyone, I guess.

This quaint space has an interesting collection of birds — from the emu that looks at me questioningly as I aim my camera, fantail pigeon, turkey, yellow golden pheasant, guinea fowl, kaka tale (cockatoo), silver dove, java, finches and African love birds. There are rabbits and hamsters too. As we walk an un-caged hawk flies down and stares at us belligerently. The children want to feed birds.

“Why is it called The Dolphin Club?” I ask owner, Owen Misquitta. I have scanned the water of the pond in vain to spot a dolphin. “We have baby dolphin fish. When they grow they will be moved into a bigger aquarium.” But the baby dolphins indicated looked nowhere like a dolphin. But then the cage of Cockatoo here has been named Kaka Tale and the guinea fowl is called guinea faul, so whatever.

Guide book
Dolphin Aquarium, Irla Gauthan, Baji Prabhu Deshpande Road, Vile Parle (W).

Getting there
Alight at Vile Parle (W),  and hail an auto. From Cooper Hospital, take the Irla lane until you reach the end. Cross the signal and head into the lane on the other side. Go straight till you reach a BMC green dump; the road turns slight right. The park is on the left.
Timings Daily, 10 am to 9 pm
Charges Different fees for different activities, ranging from `10 to `30
Food: Available. Agarwal Fastfood inside the premise serves everything from Pav Bhaji to
ice cream.
Water Available
Restroom: facilities Yes
What’s good? There is a feeling of being inside a castle surrounded by a moat. And there are many things to do, from boating to
a train ride.
What’s not good? The aquarium is a disappointment because of poor lighting and inconsistent labelling of fish in the tanks. Also, apart from the name (some of which are spelt incorrectly), no information is provided about the fish or bird. Knowing about the origins of these fish or habitat of exotic birds would have been informative. This is a place for really young kids. Older kids end up feeling impatient.

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