It is one of the largest dinosaur fossil sites in the whole world; one of the few places where you can actually hold a dinosaur egg in your hand, experience through physical touch the remains of these giant lizards that once roamed the face of the earth, even as the monumental fact slowly begins to sink in that you are in close contact to a piece of history that goes back 65 million years.
As you walk around the site, you come across a dino limb embedded deep inside a pre-historic rock, fossilized egg rings, and remains of dinosaur bones and skins. Experts believe that this dino site was home to 7 different types of dinosaurs –the Tyrannosaurus, Iquanodon, Megalosaurus, Tricerotops, Titanosaurus, and Brontosaurus.
With the discovery of about a 1000 dinosaur eggs, this site has also been recognized as one of the most prominent hatcheries in the world. And yet, if you see this dinosaur fossil site in its current state, you would hardly recognize it for the important paleontological find it is.
Welcome to India’s very own Jurassic park in Balasinor, Gujarat – a place that’s simply begging to be set up as a UNESCO Geo Park even as officials of the Gujarat Government show scant respect to this monumental discovery made almost three decades ago by mistake.
However, not all is lost for this neglected dino site as it has found an unlikely ally in the former princess of Balasinor, Aaliya Sultana. Her enthusiasm and relentless championing for the protection of this important legacy have earned her the rather comical nickname of the “Dinosaur Princess”. In addition, as the only English-speaking guide in this area, she has personally taken on the responsibility of training more than two dozen people, imparting to them some her extensive knowledge on the fossils, so that they too may serve as guides to foreign as well as domestic tourists.
Although admirable, Sultana’s contribution to the cause is limited. Unless the government steps in and takes active steps to preserve this dinosaur fossil site, the elements of nature, along with human as well as bovine intrusion on the site can cause serious damage.
Currently, this crucial archaeological find is being protected by only two caretakers as a rickety, half-broken fence run along the perimeter serving as a poor indicator that this land is off-limits. The onsite museum-cum-interpretation center has taken five years to build and even now, it has yet to be completed. Unless the Gujarat Government shows a little more initiative to tap into this potential tourist opportunity and works towards putting Indian on the paleontological map, this find runs the grave danger to being lost to neglect and ignorance.