23 April 2012

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre

If you ask any old timer in Trivandrum regarding any 'Space Museum,' chances are that either you will get quizzical looks or you will be directed to the impressive and large State Science Museum. However, Trivandrum in its precincts hosts a huge space research centre, the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Majority of Indians will recognise it as being located at 'Thumba' and the fact that Thumba is just inside the municipal limits of Trivandrum dawned on me only the last week. A quick look at its website reveals the existence of a Space Museum. However, getting inside the Museum is no mean task. First, you have to head to the Veli Gate of the Centre and ask over phone an appointment with the PRO. Once inside the heavily guarded premises, it is a world into itself. The action at the PRO's office is pretty fast once you have submitted a written application stating the number of people, their age and nationalities who want to visit the space museum. You are issued with an entry pass which is valid through the 'Canal Gate' well over two kilometers away. And, don't forget to make an entry pass for your vehicle as well otherwise you will be walking well over a kilometer once inside the Canal Gate. Do not bring ANY electronic instrument, like mobile phones, cameras, pen drives, in the car. The Museum itself is very interesting to visit and is worth the trouble. It is housed in an intensively airconditioned old church and has models of various space launch vehicles made by ISRO. It also has various films on Chandrayaan and a Re-entry module. This, is infact, the most interesting exhibit, an actual reentry probe. The curator is very enthusiastic and will answer most of your questions in great detail. There is a small auditorium where a 15 minute film is screened on the various achievements of ISRO. The museum will take easily  two hours to visit. A truly rewarding experience! The flipside: intense security and open only Monday through Friday from 10.00 AM to 3.30 PM!

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