India is a large subcontinent that has been blessed with abundantly varied landscapes and unique eco-habitats. From mountainscapes to utterly blissful seascapes and hills, India has it all. Many of these places are eco-sensitive, and being absolutely careful of one’s activities is a must to continue letting these wonderful places give us joy. Responsible travelling to beautiful natural places is called ecotourism. And ecotourism in India has a host of opportunities. The term has been introduced as a new concept in response to the rampant pollution and activities that have led to global warming and its adjutant problems. The concept expects people to be mindful of their activities in a new place. It also includes going to locations having abundant flora and fauna that have been conserved for their contribution to the surrounding environment.
The places that support ecotourism in India
1. Bandipur National Park, Karnataka
Bandipur National Park in Karnataka was originally set up as a Tiger Reserve. It is a beautiful sanctuary and is part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, which is rich in diverse plant and animal life. Here, you can go on walks and jungle safaris, where you may get lucky and spot an elephant grazing or a tiger prowling. The park is a good choice for ecotourism in India with its bountiful jungles. The best time to visit would be between March and May.
Timings: The bus safari is conducted between 6:15 am – 9:00 am and 2:15 pm – 5:00 pm.
Entry fee: INR 350 per person for the bus safari.
2. Kanger Valley National Park, Chattisgarh
The Kanger Valley National Park is located in Chattisgarh and has a dense habitat with bounteous biodiversity. Chhattisgarh and its plentiful natural landscapes with a rich tribal culture make this spot ideal for ecotourism in India. This national park is also known for its marvellous limestone caves. The park is rich in fauna and flora as well and has plenty of beautiful waterfall spots.
Timings: 6:00 am to 5:30 pm
Entry fee: INR 25 for Indians and INR 150 for foreigners.
3. Corbett National Park, Uttarakhand
The Jim Corbett National Park is also the largest Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand. It is home to myriad varieties of birds and beasts alike. This well-planned National Park has many tourist zones that are spaces explicitly demarcated for tourism, making this Park a unique place for ecotourism in India. These zones allow you to view the diverse wild fauna and flora while soaking in the tranquillity of these forests.
Timings: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Entry fee: INR 200 for Indian tourists and INR 900 for foreigners. Free for children under 8 years old.
4. Panchet Hill, West Bengal
Panchet Hill is a scenic hill in the Purulia district of West Bengal. It is perfect for a short trip away from the commotion of the city. Apart from these picture-perfect hills, there is the Damodar River that adds to the beauty of the place. The Panchet Dam across the river forms a wide lake where you can go on a relaxed boat ride while taking in the ample views around. Panchet Hill is also the site of the famous Garh Panchkot fort and temple ruins. A prime spot for ecotourism in India, Panchet Hill is a perfect ecotourism adventure package.
Timings: 24 hours
Entry fee: Free
5. Biharinath, West Bengal
In the Bankura district of West Bengal lies the tallest hill, Biharinath. This quaint hillock decked with lush forest provides tourists with sights that soothe them. The hill has a popular temple as well as a lake where boating and fishing are popular activities that can be enjoyed. The hills of Biharinath, along with the hills of Susunia, are part of the Eastern Ghats and, therefore, rich in diverse species of plants and animals. Susunia also has mesmerising waterfalls and is a hotspot for medicinal plants making this a hotspot for ecotourism in India.
6. Sundarbans National Park, West Bengal
A completely different kind of wildlife habitat, Sundarbans, is known for its dense mangrove forests and the Royal Bengal Tiger that stalks these jungles. This is the perfect place where ecotourism in India can thrive. The mangroves are salt-water plants that are a natural buffer to tsunamis and other natural disasters. The Sundarbans in West Bengal are well-preserved owing to their environmental importance and is a designated UNESCO Heritage site. The months between November to March are the best time to visit Sundarbans. Visitors are offered boat safaris.
Timings: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
7. Anangamala, Kerela
Blessed with plenty of waterfalls and lush greenery all around, Anangamala is an eco-tourists’ paradise situated in Kerela. A variety of activities are also offered. It includes trekking and sightseeing. Anangamala enjoys a location amidst the dense and picturesque forests of Ottapalam, making it a very good haunt for ecotourism in India. Enjoy the bliss of the quiet forests on your next vacation.
Timings: 9:30 am to 6:00 pm
Entry fee: INR 25 for an adult
8. Thenmala, Kerela
Thenmala in Kerela is the first government-led planned initiative for ecotourism in India. The eco-tourist spot has a myriad of activities enough to satisfy any nature lover who likes a side of adventure. The activities range from jungle safari to boating to trekking. In the thick of these lush forests, you can plan a few days’ trips as plenty of accommodation is also available.
Timings: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entry fee: Entry fee and tariff details for activities are provided on their website.
An Eco-tourist’s to-do checklist
Read up about the place you are going to visit so that you can follow their rules and remain informed about their best practices to avoid disturbing the eco-sensitive zones you will be travelling to.
2. Be on your best behaviour
Be on your best behaviour, and do not solicit teasing animals. Avoid feeding them if explicitly asked to.
3. Plastic is a plague
It is now common knowledge that plastics do not biodegrade, and throwing them carelessly can cause severe environmental hazards. Hence avoid using them or use them responsibly.
4. Responsible waste disposal
Make ample use of the bins provided, and if not available, make sure you do not litter somebody else’s place but dispose of them responsibly.
5. Stay on track
Do not stray during treks and instead follow the paths that you are supposed to follow to avoid encounters with wild animals that will lead to your own harm and that of the animals’.
6. No smoking
Cigarettes are often known to cause forest fires. So when in a forest, avoid smoking.
7. Photography precautions
While photography is naturally expected to be taken while visiting a new place, in forests, it is best to be done from a distance if the subjects happen to be wild animals to avoid disturbing them.
Ecotourism in India has good growth opportunities because of the diversity it enjoys across several landscapes. However, mindful travelling is also the need of the hour with the fear of pollution, global warming, and climate change. If you wish to see pristine nature in all its splendour, be more than just an avid traveller; become an eco-conscious one.
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