There is a bit of personal history over Taraporevala Aquarium:
1) I have visited Mumbai’s sole aquarium over three decades ago, and it was nothing to remember.
2) Three recent visits, only to learn that it hadn’t opened as yet.
3) We’ve been to Singapore’s Ocenarium. And, THAT is a must-visit.
As I exit our cab outside Charni Road I recall these memories, and our visit to the only other attempt at an aquarium in this sea-faced city: the Dolphin Aquarium.
Tareporevala Aquarium is packed. Well, I don’t know what I expected but it is not bad.
After all the fuss and the time taken to open it, it could have been better, but it is not bad.
While the place is a must-visit for Mumbai’s kids, the crowds can be a put-off for visitors as it obstructs clear views of the marine life on display. Pics/Bipin Kokate
The aquarium consists of one long room lined with glass cases that carry fish. The glass cases are bigger, wider and the fish in each case is identified with information given in two languages. We jostled through the crowd trying to look at the fish. The centre of the room also has cases with fish in it. The much-touted Marine Touch Pool is a huge disappointment. It is a mid-size tank that is open on the top where, if you look closely, you will find starfish and cucumber fish and other quiet marine life that can be touched. The kids did not feel like touching them.
Ammol, my son, seems to have a penchant for sharks. Much to his, disappointment, we didn’t get to see any. There is a mix of marine and freshwater fishes, including coral fishes collected from Lakshadweep as well as marine landscape. The Moray Eels, Singapore Turtles and Stingrays excite many. There is a museum of sorts containing specimens of preserved fishes and some varieties of seashells. We were in a hurry, but we could browse through the entire aquarium within 10 minutes.
Taraporewala Aquarium was overwhelming; unfortunately, for the wrong reasons. Perhaps a combination of factors — the closure of schools for smaller kids, the opening of a novelty of sorts for children, the lack of new and affordable places to take kids to for entertainment — made this place crowded and uncomfortably noisy.
The Aquarium is a must-visit and hopefully, there will be more added to the space in terms of activities and information and collection. For now, it seems like a place I would like to re-visit if and when the crowds dwindle.
>> Kamala Nehru Park
>> Girgaum Chowpatty
>> Marine Drive
How to get there: The best way is to board a slow/fast train on the Western Railway and alight at Charni Road (W). It’s walking distance.
Timings: Daily. Shut on Mondays. 10 am to 7 pm
Charges: Rs 30 (below 12 years), Rs 60 (kids above 12 and adults).
Food & water: No cafeteria. Carry water.
Restroom facilities: Yes.
What’s good: Care has been taken to provide information about marine life on displays. At sunset, the lighting on the outer facade made it a pretty sight.
What’s not good: Information on marine life changed too soon on the display. Fees for photography and videos are too steep (Rs 500: mobile phones, Rs 1,000: video, digital cameras, Rs 5,000: DSLR, Rs 10,000: professional videography).