The Birla Planetarium in Kolkata is a single-storeyed circular structure designed in the typical Indian style, whose architecture is loosely styled on the Buddhist stupa at Sarnath. Situated at Chowringhee Road adjacent to the Victoria Memorial, St Paul's Cathedral, and the maidan in south Kolkata, it is the largest planetarium in Asia and the second largest planetarium in the world. There are two other Birla Planetariums in India: B.M. Birla Planetarium in Chennai and the Birla Planetarium in Hyderabad.
Popularly known as taramandal, the planetarium was inaugurated in 1963 by the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. It has an electronics laboratory for design and fabrication of science equipment. It has an astronomy gallery that maintains a huge collection of fine paintings and celestial models of renowned astronomers. The Planetarium also has an astronomical observatory equipped with a Celestron C-14 Telescope with accessories such as ST6 CCD camera and solar filter. It offers to the public and students more than 100 astronomical projects dealing with various facts of astronomy, astro-physics, Space Science as well as myths concerning stars and planets. It has a capacity of 500.
Daily programs are conducted in English, Bengali and Hindi from 12:00 to 19:00 hrs except on Mondays. Programs are occasionally conducted in Oriya, Tamil and Gujarati, as well. Extra shows are arranged on holidays.
- M. P. Birla Institute of Fundamental Research