Balasinor is an erstwhile princely state and a trip is incomplete without a visit or stay at the residence of the royal family (which has now been converted into a heritage homestay). Arguably the star of Balasinor, Rajasaurus Narmadensis is a carnivorous dinosaur species of the Cretaceous period which roamed the Narmada regions about 65 million years ago. Paleontologists from the Geological Survey of India stumbled across the bones of an undiscovered species at Balasinor in 1983 and it was only in 2001, that paleontologists from universities in United States arrived to study the fossils. They realised they had the partial skeleton of an undiscovered species, and named it, quite literally, the "regal dinosaur from the Narmada". Today, a dinosaur fossil park exists at the spot with the fenced area spread over more than 70 acres. Unless you are a paleontologist yourself, do book a guided tour hosted by Princess Aaliya Sultana Babi. She has developed deep expertise in the area and works closely with the paleontologists who have been visiting the region. Be prepared to be awed as she helps you spot fossils of different body parts, dinosaur eggs and what not.
The Dinosaur and Fossil Park in the capital city is the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs in the world. The Forest Department of the State started its plantation and renovation work in the 1970.Also known as India’s Jurassic Park, it is spread in an area of 428 hectares and contains a number of sections like the Dinosaur section, fossil section etc. From life sized dinosaur status to fossilised eggs that range from the size of duck eggs to canon balls, palaeontologists suggest that the eggs are more than 65 million years old. It is believed that the area in and around park could have been the dwelling place of these gigantic creatures. The displays a rustic charm in its air and culture. Situated in Mahisagar district is Balasinor, a former princely state of the Yusufzai dynasty, that was created on 28th September, 1758. While a majority of cities today boast about the ultra modern infrastructure and state of the art facilities , Balasinor boasts its old world charm. Being a home to a number of Hindu temples, monuments etc, the festivals are celebrated in the most traditional manner that brings us closer to our roots.
In addition to the magic of culture and traditions, the village of Rayoli in Balasinor could have been one of the shooting destinations for Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Paleontologists accidentally came across the fossil remains of bones and eggs in 1980s. Since then, the place has been flooded with researchers and a number of excavations have taken place in the area the findings of which revealed the fact that there were more than 13 species of dinosaurs that thrived around 65 million years ago. The fossil park here contains life sized statues of those giant creatures and further excavations have found that a squat, thick-legged, heavy-bodied carnivorous dinosaur with a crested horn, Rajasaurus Narmandensis, King of Narmada, (the first half of the name comes from Raja or King due to the crested horn and the second half of the name originates due to its geographical location which was near the river Narmada). This creature belonged to the carnivore family of Tyrannosaurus Rex. Another interesting display is that of the fossilised snake that fed on dinosaur eggs. A skeleton of a 3.5 m fossilised snake is believed to have fed on the eggs of Sauropods. It is probably the first evidences of feeding behaviour in a fossilised primitive snake.
A visit to the fossil park will surely make you dig deep into the history of dinosaurs in Gujarat. And in order to quench your thirst for the same, Gujarat Tourism has come up with an Informatics Centre at Balasinor which is equipped with a Time Machine, 5-D theatre, 3-D film, a vivid display of mesozoic times, souvenir shop etc.
The new Informatics Centre and Museum was inaugurated by Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani in Balasinor.
A giant sculpture of the Rajasaurus Narmandensis will be on display in addition to a display depicting the evolution of Earth. The museum will depict as many as 40 sculptures that will throw on a light on their size, shape, habits and habitat, etc. These patterns have been prepared after careful study done by paleontologists over the years. A Fossil Park Development Society has been established in order to maintain this ultra modern museum.
The museum is spread in an area of over 25,000 sq. feet with 10 galleries spread in the basement and the ground floor depicting various forms of displays (films and exhibitions). An exclusive 3-D film is prepared on Rajasaurus Narmadensis. Other galleries display details on Dinosaurs of India and Gujarat, Fossil Exhibits and many other features that will bring out the child in you. One can relish this museum through digital, print and static form. The state government has not only catered to those seeking information on dinosaurs and their fossils , but also to kids by creating a Dino Fun for Kids area which will be interactive and amusing. The atrium features an exact replica of the habitat of these creatures. A step in the atrium will transport you 65 million years back.
Stay at Garden Palace Balasinor
Relics from the past, period furniture and a grand layout are not the only attractions of this late 19th century palace, accessible from Ahmedabad. It is the generous hospitality offered by the royal family that breathes life into it. Be it sharing anecdotes from the past or a royal recipe, accompanying visitors on excursions, the royal family is eager to make their guests feel at home. The heritage homestay can also be the base for some interesting excursions (chargeable) that can be arranged through the palace. A visit to Raiyoli Dinosaur Fossil Excavation Site or a hike to Dhamod to see the Laliya Luhar fort ruins may involve some walking around but are worth the trouble. The nearest air and rail hub for Garden Palace Balasinor is Ahmedabad (100km away approx).
Nearest Railway Station – Godhra (45 kms | 45 mins)
Airport/Station - Ahmedabad (90 kms | 2 hours Driving
Airport/Station - Baroda (100 kms | 2 Hours Driving Time)