The universe is vast, mysterious and really interesting. Join us as we set you up on a date with the stars at Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai.
The iconic white dome is hard to miss if you are cruising down Worli sea face. Nehru Planetarium, commissioned on 3rd March 1977, is one of Mumbai’s most visited tourist attractions. It is one of the five planetariums in India that are named after India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. These are located in Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Bangalore, and in Allahbad as Jawahar planetarium. In fact, the one in Pune was established in 1954 and is Asia’s first planetarium.
Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai. This cylindrical structure and white dome spectacle is a delight to all stargazers and space lovers. The building was designed by one of India’s most prominent architects, J.M. Kadri. The simplistic yet stunning architecture is a delight to the eyes and makes a proud statement to the timelessness of the late 70s style of architecture. It captures the essence of Mumbai’s inclusivity with the entry fee still being ₹60 for adults and ₹40 for young astronomy enthusiasts. And for a group of 25 or more students, the entry fee is a mere ₹20.
It soon became immensely popular among astronomers and children alike in Mumbai. The planetarium also serves as a center of logical study for students and amateur scientists of astronomy and space science. The planetarium also plays host to various discussions and lectures based on astronomical and cosmological events from time to time.
School kids love to participate in the science quiz contests, astro painting contests, astro poetry and even science elocution. Since its establishment, it has conducted thirty-one astronomical presentations and boasts of being the only astronomical centre, which includes both the concert and the movie auditorium. Even now, shows are conducted on a daily basis. And if it’s the weekend and you haven’t booked a day in advance, chances are the show might be running house full.
The special Planetarium’s sky shows are the quintessential treat for everyone who visits the place and strives for an incomparable learning experience. ‘Tryst and Destiny‘ was the first show and it outlined the stars and constellations like they had donned the sky on the night of 14 August 1947. The second show “Mahatma – The Eternal Light‘ recreated the celestial configuration as on 2nd October 1869, the day Mahatma Gandhi was born combining it with other historic events from his life. Since the very beginning, these shows have mesmerized the visitors. Currently, ‘The Wonders of the Universe‘ and ‘Invaders of Mars‘ are featured. Amidst all the activity, the planetarium houses an art gallery, a restaurant, a library and a cultural centre.
Inside, an exhibit attracts many at the first sight, it allows you to check your weight on each planet of the solar system and the moon. Next, a 14 cubicle exhibit called the ‘Discovery of India’ takes you through the journey of India through the ages highlighting art, philosophy and academics with major architectural and artistic works, photographs and audio visuals. This roomful of history also has a scale model of a tram car, a railway engine, a steam lorry and a supersonic jet. And if you stroll down to the basement, you will find yourself in the middle of a huge marble-paneled auditorium with amazing acoustics and the capacity to comfortably seat at least a thousand people at a time. This auditorium is the usual venue for various classical music concerts, plays, seminars and dance recitals. But what really takes the cake is a 45 minute show called ‘Stars and wonders of the universe’. The show happens every day and in English, Hindi and Marathi.
The planetarium, over the years, has become a platform for aspiring astronomers and has helped build a
community of people who want to get a closer look at the universe and uncover its mysteries. It also makes special arrangements on different stellar occasions to watch, study and photograph eclipses and other major events like meteoroid showers. Various telescopes and other high-tech astronomical equipment allows any curious kid to explore the depths of the universe. The Digital Planetarium projector, Digistar-3, and Universal Planetarium Projector have showcased the magnificence of the celestial world to over 96 lakh people in 26 years.
Nehru planetarium also has a mini mobile planetarium for people in rural areas to create awareness and keep them updated with all astronomical news.
And if you that’s impressive, wait till you visit the Nehru Centre Library. It has a wide collection of over 30,000 books. These include religion, literature, social science, astronomy, biographies, geography, history, and various other disciplines. A peaceful ambiance, well-equipped cyber-centre, audio-visual facilities, and even a kids section, this library is perfect for a little quiet time with yourself and a book.
And of course, then there are the various workshops and programmes organised for students, teachers and other professionals that keeps it the hub of intellect and conversation in the city.
Even a walk in the campus is very informative and a one of its kind experience. It is lined with plants and herbs of over 1000 varieties including many rare species. The Nehru Planetarium truly captures the love of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s love for kids and will continue to inspire and instill dreams of becoming astronauts and scientists in kids for years to come.