The Guindy National Park is commonly referred to as the lungs of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It has the unique distinction of being one of the only forests to be located within a metropolitan city. The Guindy National Park is undoubtedly the lung of the city. The people living in the park know that the temperature they experience even in summer is lower than that experienced in other parts of the city.
Like all national parks today, the Guindy Park was originally a game reserve. It was in 1958 that the area of 400 hectares was handed to the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. Today the National Park has only 270.57 hectares.
The biodiversity within the Guindy National Park is quite amazing, despite the fact that it is a very small area surrounded by houses and habitation. The vegetation is mainly of the tropical dry evergreen type, and over 350 species of plants have been found including trees, shrubs, climbers, herbs, and grasses. There are large numbers of Chital and Blackbuck that graze in the open grassland on the northern end of the park. Nocturnal animals include the toddy cat, civets, jungle cat, pangolin, and hedgehog. The dense forest, grasslands, and water-bodies provide an ideal habitat for a large species of birds, some not seen anywhere else in Chennai. Apart from snakes, certain species of tortoise and turtles, lizards, geckos, chameleons, and the common Indian monitor lizard are also found here.
Other than the Guindy National Park, the Arignar Anna Zoological Park, popularly known as the Vandalur Zoo (spread over a lush green forest area of about 510 hectares) also acts as a lung to the city.