The Birla Science Museum was started in 1990, and is Hyderabad's only museum dedicated to science. Which is not surprising since you cannot make a business out of running science museums - several people would never be able to live down the stigma, all their life, of ever having voluntarily visited a science museum. And if one already exists, that's a big sigh of relief for anyone who might feel any social responsibility to create one.
The Birla Science Museum is competently maintained, since it is property of one of the biggest and most dynamic business groups of the country, which can afford to spend a half lac each month without getting emotional about it. And it is worth visiting, too - they have some pretty cool stuff there which shows that science actually works outside of textbooks.
The Museum has 4 sections that mostly kids on school excursions and families who've somehow landed in the neighbourhood, mostly to pay respects to the Big Man round the corner, visit. Here's a lowdown.
Interactive Science Center
Start with the Interactive Science Center simply because it's great fun to hit things. It starts with a section of optical illusions, and is followed by an electronics section that has, for instance, a musical harp which plays when you pass your hand through the sensors in its base. Then there are various holograms boasting images of plants, faces and drawings.
The Recreation Center has you testing the various principles of physics, mechanics in general. You can check your pedaling power or lift yourself, literally. Or you can just watch an energy ball fall and roll in a series of interconnecting loops. Then there's an arch bridge that leads to a Xylophone at end, and a pendulum pattern maker at the other end.
There are also the black hole with a coin, a corner cube, a color mixer, and some mirror tricks, all designed to wreak havoc on your eyes. If that weren't enough, you have another section of optical illusions. And when you finally stop seeing dots, spirals and a summary of the universe before your eyes, venture downstairs into the Archaeology Center.
Archaeology Center and the Nirmala Birla Art Gallery
The first stop here is the Nirmala Birla art gallery, which in fact is a labyrinth of interconnecting corridors. It can get a little scary after a while given the fact that you are kept company by hundreds of porcelain dolls. These Royal Dolton England figurines are all dolled up in various attires, and are really quite dainty.
There are also some crystal and glass sculptures, along with decorative objects in jade and stone. There is also a collection of vases and china trays. However, the real eye-catcher has to be the ivory architecture on display. With exquisite cravings of figures and designs on the ivory, this is truly something to stop and actually look at.
The Archaeology Center has a lot of pottery and various carvings in stone. Then you have the obligatory selection of the basic tool fragments used for cutting and chiseling. There are pieces of slabs and pillars with drawings and inscriptions on them, kept company by metal figures and a display of ancient locks. The ending of the tour comes in the form of ancient relics and palm leaf inscriptions, which have a whole room to themselves.
The only drawback to this whole experience is the lack of proper air-conditioning, since all you have is one air-cooler in the middle of the Nirmala Birla art gallery. On a hot summer day, it's hard to, ahem, chill here.
Located on the top floor, there is one big momma in the middle of the hall. Called the Kotasaurus Yamapalliensis, it is a saurpod dinosaur whose fossils were found in the Adilabad district during 1974 and 1982. It is truly an experience of gigantic proportions. There are also a lot of bone fragments and even some fossilized remains of plants and animals, along with a couple of completely preserved eggs.
The walls are splattered with posters and other bits and pieces of information about the various ages - Jurassic, Mesozoic etc. - and the types and classifications of the dinosaurs. This section was started on 25th July 2000.
Window On Science
This section deals with the heavens and people who went there in shuttles. The model rocket, that has its base on the ground floor of the science museum, peaks here. Model satellites and various diagrams, along with other visual aid to better understand the cosmos, fill this section. Various mysteries of the universe - black holes for example - are chronicled with some very good pictures.
Also read: Birla Mandir, Birla Planetarium