Suketi Fossil Park

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Time Required: 1-2 hrs

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9:30 AM - 5:00 PM (Closed on Tuesday)
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Suketi Fossil Park, Nahan Overview

The Suketi Fossil Park, also known as the Shivalik Fossil Park, is a prominent fossil park that is located in the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh in India. This park is the first one in Asia to be situated on the same site where the actual fossils were unearthed, and has a collection of vertebrate fossils and skeletons that date back to the prehistoric times, and have been recovered from the upper and middle Siwaliks geological formations of sandstones and clay at Suketi.

The Suketi Fossil Park is the largest fossil park in Asia and is situated at a distance of 21 kilometres from Nahan, on the banks of the Markanda River. It is located in the upper and middle Shivaliks and has soft sandstone and clay rocks. The fossil park is famous for its open-air exhibition of six life-sized fibreglass models of extinct mammals whose skeletons and fossils were found at the location, displays of fossil finds, and the museum which displays fossil finds.

The various exhibits in the park attract people with a scientific bent of mind from all across the world and also generate curiosity amongst the general public. The park also facilitates international studies in this field by research scholars, who visit the park from different parts of the globe and plays an instrumental role in generating public awareness about this field of study and enquiry. A visit to the Suketi Fossil Park is a must while in Himachal Pradesh to enjoy a fun-filled and informative day.

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The Suketi Fossil Park was established on 23 March in 1974 by the Geological Survey of India, in association with the Government of Himachal Pradesh. The Geological Survey of India presently looks after this park and its development. The fossil park is named after the Suketi Village, where the park is located, since it is at this site that the fossils were initially found, in the Markanda River valley, at the foot of the Himalayas.

The primary objective behind the establishment of this park was to preserve the precious site and the fossils that were found here and to protect the fossils from being extracted and vandalised without thought. At the same time, the park aims to provide scientific information about the prehistoric period for scholarly research.

The fossils that were found in the Suketi Fossil Park were identified as vertebrates that lived in the region about 2.5 million years ago. The mammalian fossils that are found here are also one of the world's richest antiquities. Just outside the museum, one can find fibreglass models of six extinct animals, which include the huge land tortoise, four-horned giraffe, gharial, large tusked elephant, sabre-toothed cat and hippopotamus. The other fossils that were unearthed in this park include a grand elephant (Stegodonganesa Sivatherium), a hippopotamus with six incisors (Hexaprotodon Sivalensis) and a saber-toothed tiger (Paramachaerdus).

One can find models in all shapes and sizes at the Suketi Fossil Park, and it is quite interesting to have a look at these. One such model at the park is that of a sabre-tooth cat which has long upper canine teeth to tear its prey. This particular cat became extinct about a million years ago. The model of the hippopotamus at the fossil park is life-sized and has six incisors with a large mouth. These kinds of hippopotamuses existed in large numbers about 2.5 million years ago, but sadly they are now extinct.

The model of the giant land tortoise is the largest of all tortoises and is quite gigantic when compared to the tortoises that we see today. Other models that one can see in the fossil park are those of giant elephants and four-horned giraffes. All of these were initially placed inside the park, but a fire that occurred in the jungle damaged many of them. The remaining models can now be found just outside the museum.

The museum at the Shivalik Fossil Park exhibits a variety of skeletal remains of the skulls and limbs of different mammals, such as the skulls of hippopotamuses, tortoises, gharials and crocodiles. It also has on display the tusks of 22 species of elephants, besides other rocks, charts and paintings that are related to plant and animal life of existing as well as extinct species.

The museum has stone items on display that belong to the Early Palaeolithic Man, fossils of two genera of extinct primates, Sivapithecus and Ramapithecus, and antiquities that were unearthed by Captain Cautley in the area. The exhibits in the museum also include an Indian postage stamp which has images of two elephants and tusks. This stamp was issued on the occasion of the centenary of the Geological Survey of India in the year 1951.

The Suketi Fossil Park can be visited at any time throughout the year, but it is not advisable to visit the park in January since the weather is very chilly during this month.

1. Do not worry about carrying food along, as a government-run cafeteria provides food and refreshment to the tourists in the fossil park.
2. It is advisable to take a small vehicle to reach the place since the lane that leads up to the park is quite narrow.

The Suketi Fossil Park is located at a distance of 21 kilometres from Nahan in Himachal Pradesh and can be easily reached via any means of public transport.

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