Vainu Bappu Observatory, Yelagiri

Visitor Information

  • Famous For: Telescopes, Fabry-Perot Interferometer, Star-gazing, Research and Astrophysics
  • Entrance Fee: Entry is free.
  • Visiting Time: Open to public on Saturdays from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • Visit Duration: One hour approximately.

Vainnu Bappu Observatory (VBO) is located at Kavalur, near Yelagiri, in the state of Tamil Nadu. This observatory was established in the 1970s, at Kavalur, by M.K. Vainnu Bappu, the former director of the Kodaikanal observatory. The VBO comes under the ownership of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore and has several observational facilities yielding research theses for the students of IIA and other universities. The VBO is one of the best operating observatories in Asia.

Vainu Bappu Observatory
Photo by Prateek Karandikar, CC BY-SA 4.0

Traveler Tips

  • Do not visit the observatory during the monsoons. The chances of having clear skies, which are the condition for proper observations, is very rare. You might be disappointed to know that the observatory is not open for public viewing, if you end up there on a rainy day.
  • Do not disturb the position of any equipment or instrument. Do not fiddle with them since the positioning of instruments greatly affects the observations.
  • Do not forget to carry your camera. However, avoid using it in prohibited places within the observatory.

Things to Do

  • For gazing the night skies, visit the observatory on a perfectly clear-skied Saturday night, anytime between 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
  • To learn about the telescopes and other instruments, interact with the officials who are available for providing information’s.
  • This astronomical observatory is located in a secluded forest land, amidst dense greenery. The campus is strewn with plants of medicinal value. Owing to the thick forests, several species of birds take shelter here. For bird watchers and photographers, this place is a sheer delight. On some occasions, wild deer, snakes and even scorpions could be spotted in the campus.

Availability of Guides

The officials of the Vainu Bappu observatory are available for the assistance of the visitors.

Best Time to Visit

Tourists can visit the observatory on all Saturdays of the year. The peak season for observation is from January to May.  The winter months obstruct the observations, owing to fogs, cloudiness and rains. Therefore, it is advisable to visit the observatory on a summer Saturday with clear skies.

How to Reach

The nearest airport to Vainnu Bappu Observatory is the Bangalore International Airport. The observatory is located 175 kilometers away from the city of Bangalore. From Bangalore and other cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, one can take a train to either Jolarpettai or Vaniyambadi, which are the closest railway stations to the observatory. To reach Kavalur, you can take the local bus or get a taxi. Kavalur is well-connected by bus to Hosur, Vaniyambadi, Krishnagiri and most prominent cities of Tamil Nadu.

Interesting Facts and Trivia About Vainu Bappu Observatory

  • The VBO houses the famous VBT (Vainnu Bappu Telescope) which has a 234-cm wide aperture.
  • It also hosts the JCBT (J.C. Bhattacharya Telescope) and the Carl Zeiss telescope whose respective apertures are 130 cm and 100 cm.
  • The VBO has well-operating optical instruments including the Fabry-Perot interferometer.
  • The 2.3 cm telescope and observatory were named ‘Vainnu Bappu’ by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi during a function in Kavalur.
  • In 1988, the Schmidt telescope in the VBO discovered a new minor planet, now named as 4130 Ramanujam. This is one of India’s most outstanding discoveries in the field of Astrophysics.
  • This observatory detected the presence of atmosphere in the satellite Ganymede and contributed towards the confirmation of the presence of rings around Uranus and Saturn.
  • The Vainnu Bappu telescope has a very high resolution, so much that it can resolve a twenty-five paise coin kept at a distance of 40,000 meters away.
  • Owing to its advanced observational facilities, the VBO attracts hundreds of research proposals from around the world, every year.
Vellore Fort
 Vellore Fort, Photo by C/N N/G, CC BY-SA 2.0

Nearby Attractions

  • Vellore Fort
  • Muthu Mandapam
  • Swamimalai Hills
  • Velavan temple
  • Nilavoor Lake
  • Puganoor Lake
  • Archaeological Museum
  • Nature Park
  • Jalagamparai Falls
  • Sripuram Golden Temple

Nearby Restaurants

  • Sai Sangeet
  • Go-go Camping
  • Taj Hotel
  • Ambur Star Biriyani
  • Touchstone
  • Rajalakshmi
  • Hotel Sujiz

For all the science buffs seeking to explore the applications of science and all night-sky lovers, the Vainnu Bappu Observatory is a must visit. This internationally reputed observatory is sure to increase your quest for knowledge and the love for sky observations.

About Rohit

An architect by profession, Rohit Agarwal is a curious traveller, seeking out the minutest detail about the places he travels to, and that’s what one will find in his writings. His writings have appeared in various blogs, he’s currently trying to bring forth as many different places a traveller who shares the same level of curiosity like him would like to visit through his writings.

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