BENGALURU: The Aquatic Kingdom at Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna railway station India’s first tunnel aquarium in any railway station has quietly shut shop due to heavy losses. It had completed a year on July 1 and the contract permitted it to extend it by three years but the owners decided to call it a day. Without any intimation given by the Bengaluru Railway Division about its closure, passengers heading to it in the concourse area returned after seeing the ‘Closed’ board.
“We did not get the kind of footfall we had in mind. We suffered huge losses. There are no regrets and it was a big learning experience for us,” Syed Hamid Hassan, managing partner, HNI Enterprises, which was awarded the contract by the now wound-up Indian Railway Station Development Corporation told TNIE.
A couple of railway stations in the country emulating it have sought his expertise in this connection, “We might think of setting it up at Sir M Visvesvaraya terminal station in the future as it a world class station and spacious too,” Hassan said. While the place attracted between 500 and 600 passengers on a daily basis and more during weekends, HN1 was looking at drawing a daily crowd of 4,000.
Asked if the economically priced ticket could have been increased to mobilise resources, Hassan said, “The idea was to let everyone, including those with limited income, partake of the experience inside our Aquatic Kingdom. We deliberately made it a very affordable entry.” Divisional Railway Manager, Bengaluru Division, Shyam Singh said, “The one-year contract period is over. They do not want to extend it for another three years and have shut it.”
For a ticket price of Rs 25, Aquatic Kingdom opened up a different world and won rave reviews from passengers. Black Diamond, Sting Ray and High Fin Sharks were present in the tunnel aquarium apart from exotic fish from abroad. A 12-feet-long paludarium, an aquarium with terrestrial plants, aquatic plants and life forms, modelled on the Amazon rainforest, was a big attraction here.