Phokte Dara in Sikkim is a very special and hidden place. a wonderful panoramic view, a true delight for mountain lover. This place is very special as world’s highest mountain i.e. Mt. Everest & India’s highest i.e.Kanchanganga both are visible at a time from a single spot. Other visible peaks from Phokate dara are Lohtse (world’s 4 th highest), Makalu (5 th ), Nuptse, Chamlang, Three sister’s peak, Chomolonzo etc. Phokte dara offers phenominal views and can be compared to view from Gokyo-ri in Everest base camp trek. This trek is entroute Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, providing dense forest trails.
Sikkim the tiny Himalayan state and the best kept secrets of Himalayas. It is castled between Nepal, China, Bhutan and West Bengal and overlooked by Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak. Sikkim is attractive place for holidayers, the adventure sports enthusiast and those interested in Buddhism and Tibetology. Sikkim is paradise for botanist, about 4000 flowering plant species and 600 speicies of Orchid are found in forests of Sikkim.
Best season: March to May or October to December
How to reach Gangtok:
Nearest Airport: Bagdogara (1.5 hour of flight from Delhi) about 11 kms from Silliguiri (124 kms from Gangtok). Sikkim tourism department have started helicopter service from Silliguri to Gangtok.
Nearest railway station: Siligudi
One can reach Bagdogara by flight from Delhi or Kolkata. From here move to Dargeeling and then to Gangtok. Alternately, one can reach Kolkata by flight and catch a train to Siliguri or Siligudi. From Siliguri, Gangtok is 4 hours of drive.
Foreigners must obtain Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit Sikkim. The permits can be obtained from all Indian missions, Tourism Office, New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism Office, Calcutta and Sikkim Tourism Office. Entry permits for visitors in Barsey Sanctuary can be obtained from the wildlife check post at Hilley and even from the Forest Secretariat, Gangtok . One has to contact: DFO Wildlife, South and West Wildlife Division, Namchi, S. Sikkim Pin: 737126, Sikkim, India, Phone : +91 3595 – 264635
Note: Rules keep on changing, hence one needs to check with tourism department and forest department, whether permissions are available for foreigneers to visit these places. With necessary permits and letters one may proceed to this trek.
Day one: Kolkata-Silliguri : One can reach early morning in Kolkata by flight. One may choose to take rest or visit places in Kolkatta for sight seeing. In the evening, one can catch train for Siliguri. Travelling overnite is best way to save time and logding expenses.
Day two: Siliguri to Gangtok : One can hire a vehicle or bus for a 4 hour journey to Gangtok. These roads are very narrow and scenic. This route would give you first hand view of this himalayan state which is actually smaller than Switzerland in size, but no way smaller in terms of natural beauty. Vast geographical and cultural differences could be found once you move ahead of Siliguri. This strategic town connects mainland India with its north eastern states. About 70% of population in Sikkim speak Nepali.
Gangtok is a nice city, situated on the slope of different hills. In India, you always tend to find small tea or coffee shops in roadside. At Gangtok, you would find similar wine shops. Rest of the day one may spend at hotel in Gangtok. Local visits in the town could be done. Flower exhibitions are regularly held in Gangtok.
Day three: Gangtok : One may spend this day in Gangtok. Permissions from the forest department and other necessary permits could be obtained. For a foreigner, permissions are required to visit Sikkim, this could be obtained from Gangtok, or their respective consulate needs to be contacted. Phote dara doesnt require any speical permission, except forest department permissions and authority letters to descent to Chiba from Phote dara. Local guide is necessary for this trek,
Day four: Gangtok – Hilley : There is no direct bus or jeep available for Hee school area. It was brake journey first from Gangtok to Jorethang & then to Hee school area. Camping can be done here, or lodging facilities can be made available on request to locals or army camps. This trek is not very popular and local assistance is required. This route is via dense forests. Local guide can be found in this area
Day five: Hilley – Barsey/Barshey: The route is not well defined and so one needs to start early. Sighting human being on this trail is rare, occassionaly one can find one or two shepherd huts. One has to cut random vegetation to make way. Stopping in between would mean treat for leeches. Local remedy of salt, tobacco and limestone works excellent on leeches. It would be only late evening one would reach Barsey. Barsey is a very nice place situated on top of the hill and surrounded by dense forest. It offers a panoramic view of mountains including Kanchanganga. The temperatures here are often below zero at night. There are two tourist lodges on top providing dormitory. This region is under Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary located in the south west corner of the West Sikkim district and spreading over 104 sq. km, across the razor sharp Singalila Range, which forms the natural international border with Nepal. In the South the Rambong Khola separates it from West Bengal.
Day six: Bersey/Barsey – Jhor Burtey: The leads through the dense forest of Rhododendron, Alpine, Conifer and mixed broadleaf trees. Enroute you would find hundreds of species of flowers and colorful leaves. The entire route is dense and through shades of forest. One has to camp at Jhor Burtney.
Day seven: Jhor Burtey – Phokte Dara : One has to keep climbing in the dense forest with a freshness in air more prominent. Midway are some huts of cowmen. By evening one would reach near Phokte dara. One may camp just below the top. Phokte dara is spot on the top of mountain at a walking distance of 30 min. Camping here is wonderful experience, with chilly and clear nights may make this more memorable.
Day eight: Phokte Dara – Uttarey : Sunrise in himalayas are very early. First sun ray falling on the snow clad peaks provide a superb view. One may get up early in morning by 0400 am and reach top of Phokte dara. From here a wonderful view of Kanchanganga, Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, Kumbhkarna, Kabru, Japnu and so many peaks. This is truly a fantastic place. But unfortunately there is no mention of it on the trekking or Tourist map of sikkim. Points like Phokte dara are true treasures for a mountain lover. It’s a joy to watch some of the highest peaks of this world from a single point. Phokte dara is situated exactly on the border of India and Nepal. There are few small pillars at this place, if you cross it and stand on other side then it means you are in Nepal. From this spot peaks of Bhutan, China, Nepal and India are visible.
Enroute you may find Border security force and may check forest permission and authority letters at Chiba. In the return journey met BSF soldiers unit at Chiba.
Chiba camp is located in a picturesque location with snow peaks around. Chiba to Uttarey is a very steep down walk. Uttarey is connected by road and lodging facilities can be obtained here.
Day nine: Uttarey to Darjeeling or Gangtok: One needs to hire vehicle back to Darjeeling or Gangtok
Gulmarg or the meadow of flowers is located about 57 kms south west from Srinagar and is situated at about 8694 feet above sea level. Gulmarg is popular day trip from Srinagar and is surrounded by huge crassy meadow surrounded by fir trees and snow peaks. Gulmarg was discovered by Kashmiri ruler Yusuf Shah Chak during the 15 century. Since the british era, it had been the popular hill resorts, providing softly undulating slopes and fresh mountain air away from population and pollution.
Gulmarg is a small place and one can roam around the city on foot. A walk along the inner and outer ring road reveals the beauty of this place. It has the highest golf course in the world. Affarwat is the highest peak in Gulmarg and is among the popular trek near Gulmarg. Trekking near Gulmarg require army permission. Alpathar is another popular trek near Gulmarg.
The recently built cable car takes you from Gulmarg to Kongdor through Seven springs and Khailanmarg to provide ultimate views of the Srinagar valley.Maharani mandir, St. Mary’s Church, Baba Reshi are some of the other religious places around.
Skiing in Gulmarg has been the focus of tourism here. Its gentle slopes are perfect for first timers, while more advanced have option of slaloming down the gondola car at Kongdor. A number of people provide skiing gear on rent. If you are serious about skiing, you may as well hire an instructor for about USD 10 dollar a day.
This place can be visited throughout the year, but is best during winters whenphoto from flickr user willewonker the skiing season is at its peak. Nearest airport for Gulmarg is Srinagar. One can as well reach Jammu by train or flight and hire vehicle to reach Gulmarg. From Srinagar, Gulmarg is connected via Tangmarg.
Some other places around Gulmarg include Pahalgam on banks of Lidder river, Amarnath Cave, Mamleshwar temple
Kudremukh Peak is the one of the highest peak in Karnataka and highest in the Kudremukh national park also known as Kudremukha National park. This peak lies about 1892 meters or 6214 feet above sea level. ‘Audre’ means horse while ‘mukha’ means face. As the name suggests, it looks like a horse face hence called Kudremukh or kudremukha. This peak lies in the forests of Kudremukh National park. Kudremukh peak trek lies on the popular trekking trails in the national park. Tickets are to be taken from the forest department before entering the park and follow the guidelines set by them. Kudremukh national park amidst Western Ghats has a very rich biodiversity and home to certain species of wildlife which is no where else found on this planet.
Nearest Airport: Mangalore(60 kms) is the nearest airport to this place. Bangalore is the nearest international airport having connecting flights from most parts of India. Bangalore is about 351 kms from Kudremukh.
Nearest Railway station: Mangalore or Udipi is the nearest big railway station. Both lie on the scenic route of Konkan railway.
How to reach Beltangady: To reach Beltangady or Beltangadi or Belthangady from Bangalore, one has to take national highway 48 or NH 48, which passes through Hassan. After Uppinangadi, a 18 km diversion from the NH 48 towards NH 13 would lead you to Beltangady. Alternate route is from Golitattu on NH 48 one may take route to Dharmastala and then to Beltangady.
To reach Beltangady from Mangalore, one can take NH 48 till Panemangaluru and then NH 13 to Beltangady.
Note: This region has leeches in plenty and so you may carry salt or tobacco powder to remove leeches.
Day one: Beltangady-Navoor (or Navuru)-Tolali, camp at Lobomane
Navoor is on Beltangady-Killoor road. Jamalagad can be seen on left along this route. Tickets to enter the park may be obtained here. After Navoor foot trail starts and most of the climb is in North north west direction on eastern side of hill range and valley on right.Tolali lies somewhere between Hiremar Guppa peak and Kudremukh peak.
Lobomane or “Lobo’s house” was a house made by Simon Lobo, a priest who made the Kudremukh ranges his home. After Simon Lobo had passed away, Lobomane is under a caretaker called Shankar. Lodging accommodation can be obtained here. Food is can also be made available on request. Grave of Simon Lobo is located just ahead of Lobomane.
Day two: Lobomane-Kudremukh summit-Lobomane about 16 kms
From Lobomane about 3-4hours of trek lead you to the summit. One may come back to Lobomane and camp. This route passes through shola (montane) forests near the top. About 30 minutes below summit is a ruined church and a small waterfall. Birds are found in abundance and is paradise for bird lovers.
Around 6-8 kms walk from Lobomane leads you to Mullodi. Further 6 kms would lead to Basrikal gate. Road is motorable after Mullodi. One has to reach Malleswara and then to Samse to catch vehicle further.
Alternatively, if one has vehicle left at Navoor, then on day three, one can trek back towards Navoor and trek to Jamala or Jamalabad fort or Jamalghad kote, situated at around 1700mts from sea level, supposedly built by Tipu Sultan near Navoor. However camping is not allowed here.
(map from karnataka tourism)
The Western ghats is full with short and swift flowing rivers. However due to uneven terrain, there are not may river rafting location in Maharashtra. However Kundalika river which lies hardly 100 kms from Mumbai and Pune provides excellent opportunity for river rafting. It is preferred one day weekend getway adventure destination near Mumbai and Pune. River Kundalika is fed by waters released from Mulshi Dam and Bhira dam and provides 9 km rafting location with class 3 and class 4 rapids.
The best time to visit here is the monsoon, when the water levels are good for rafting. However, depending on levels of water, rafting can be done rest of the year as well.
A number of Mumbai and Pune based adventure clubs organize white river rafting camps during monsoon near Kolad. The daily rafting charges are around USD 50-75.
Some of the clubs are:
How to reach Kolad:
Kolad lies on the Mumbai – Goa national highway. It is about 98 kms from Mumbai. The river rafting site is located at Saje village, 97 km west of Pune on the Mulshi-Kholad Road. Mumbai and Pune are the nearest international airports. Kolad or Roha railway station on the Konkan railway is the nearest railway station.
Sight seeing near Kolad
Namdapha National park proposed in 1947, was declared a wildlife sanctuary and subsequently National park to join the Project tiger network. This tiger reserve is the only jungle in world to have four feline speices coexisting; tiger, leopard, clouded leopard and snow leopard. This place situated in dense vegetation of Aurnachal hills have over four hundred varieties of orchids. This rain forest is situated on banks of river Noa-Dihing and is located 150 kms from blue hills of Patkai mountain ranges near Miao. This place is one of the places you must visit in North East India.
Namdapha Tiger Reserve is delight for Nature and Trekking lovers. This torpical Wet Evergreen forest in the Changland District of Arunachal have altitudes varing from 200m to 4500m above sea level. It is home ot some of the endangred species like Slow Lorris and Hoolock Gibbons; the only ape species of India. Other animals which could be sighted include elephants, black bears, deers, Leaf deer, black barking deer,Assamese macaque, pig-tailed macaque, stump-tailed macaque, Indian Bison, White winged wood duck, Great Indian Hornbill. Namdapha tiger reserve is actually sandwiched between Myanmar on east and south, while Himalayan foot hills on west. About 57 tigers have been reported in this virgin jungle.
Best season to visit Namdapha Tiger reserve would be after monsoon, October to April.
To visit most places in North East India, permissions are required. To visit Namdapha National park permission could be sought from Arunachal bhavan in New Delhi. Indian tourists need obtain inner line permits, while foreginer visiting Arunachal Pradesh need to get Restricted Area Permit from Ministry of Home Affairs, New Delhi 15 days prior to visit. Other conditions for Foreign tourists include minimum group of four persons. Permit is extendable by 10 days. Documents need to be brought include Xerox copy of Passport and Visa and passport size photgraph.
Places to visit near Namdapha Tiger reserve are
Deban is forest camp located on banks of river Noa-Dihing and provides trails for trekking and hiking. Firmbase is popular cmaping site located 25 kms from Deban. Forest department provide equipments and guide for camping here. Hornbill located about 9km from Deban is home to flocks of hornbills. Haldibari camping site is about 5 kms from Deban and can be reached by boat. Overnight stay can be made at this place. Bulbulia is excellent camping site with several natural springs. Camera Point camping site provides excellent view of Namdapha forest. Motijheel spot with grazing pastures is good place to spot herbivorous and birds. Gandhigram located on southeast periphery of forest is the remotest and last village in India on borders of China and Myanmar. This places is home of Lisu tribe and is located about 120 kms from Deban. It has to be reached by a week long trek through dense jungles.
How to reach Namdapha National Park:
view from motijeel photo by Rahul NatuGuwahati is the nearest internationa airport to reach here. However, one may have to come via Delhi for arrange restricted area permits. Mohanbari, Dibrugarh is the nearest domestic airport located about 160 kms from Miao. Tinsukia Railway Station in Assam which is the nearest long distance railway station is located about 141 km from Deban. Miao in the Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh is entry point for Namdapha. State buses regularly ply from Dibrugarh and Tinsukia to Miao. From Miao, one may hire a vehicle and reach Deban located about 26 kms along the forest roads intersected by several streams and rivers.
The Field Director, Project Tiger, Namdapha Tiger Reserve
Miao – 792 122, Changlang District, Arunachal Pradesh, India, Phone/Fax: +91-3807-222249
Rivers of Varahi and Sita are ideal for rafting in Udipi district on East Karnataka. Rafting here is possible during rains when water levels are high. Rafting in Sitanadi and Varahi, you may encounter Grade II and III rapids. Apart from several private agents who organise rafting, Jungle Lodges and Resorts is state government body which organises rafting in the region. With around 350 kms from Bangalore and very close to Mangalore, these rafting sites in Karantaka are quite popular.
There are two choices of rafting at Sitanadi. One is from Nisarga Dham to Belinje bridge covering 14 kms and other is Nisarga Dhama to Jomlu Tirtha which is around 22 kms.
Rafting in Varahi river is on at Anejari Nisarga Dama near Kollur. Rafting in Varahi river starts from Hosangady to New Bridge covering 24 kms or from Hosangady to Hole Shankaranarayan covering 18 kms. Here rafting can be done throughout the year.
Apart from Sitanadi rafting, rafting in Karnataka is done in Kali river in Dandeli, Varahi river in Kollur, Cavery river near Bheemeshwari and Coorg.
How to reach:
Goa is the nearest international airport for these rafting locations. Hebri and Kollur are well accessed by road from Bangalore, Mangalore and Udipi. Sitanadi Nisarga Dhama is about 35 km from Udipi. Kollur is about 70 kms from Udipi.
One can also combine one of the following options during rafting tours.
Nal Sarovar bird Santuary is situated about 64 kms from the busy and crowded city of Ahmedabad. It is home to various migratory birds or ‘featheredbiped’ beings as Salim Ali used to call them. Nal Sarovar is situated in a very arid region, and this contrast attracts various birds in the region. The lake is spread over 115 square kilometers and ferry boats are available here which take you across the lake. Mainly inhabited by migratory birds in winter and spring, it is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India.
From a host of regular visitors like kingfishers, egrets, darters, storks, pelicans and flamingos, this place is a safe haven for both bird lovers and over 250 species of birds that visit here every year. The waders or the water birds even nest here at times and if you are lucky you may see nesting sites of purple moorhen, egrets, ducks and teals. Greater flamingoes migrate here from Kutch every year and one can find tall standing birds like painted and blacknecked storks, pelicans (both rosy and white), purple herons and spoonbills watching over the place, like custodians to a declining breed.
Many rare birds including the green pigeon, European migratory ruff & reeve, great Indian bustard, Bengal florican and green pigeon are said to have been in and around the lake in the past. Other migratory birds that one can see here are gulls, terns, godwits, ducks and goose, shanks, swifts and swallows. Birds of prey like the ospreys, eagles, sparrow hawks and falcons hover here in search of prey. The bushes across the lake gives refuge to mammals like hares, porcupine and even foxes are spotted here. Those with long bills like whimbrels, curlews, spoonbill (derives its name from its spoon-shaped beak), sandpipers, snipes and kingfishers, cormorants and the darter or snake-bird probe into the details earth in search of food.
The best time to visit the place is after October when the water levels have receded to two to five feet in the area and it serves ideal for the aves to visit the place. There have been cases of bird poaching in the area in the past.
The migrating Padhars who populate the islands of the lake are also a fast declining tribe. This Bharwad shepherd community are excellent folk singers, dancers and artisans and also make their living here by offering food to visitors and ferrying them around the lake. They are mainly into animal husbandry and visit this lake when the water levels are lower especially during the winter season.
How to reach
By Air: Ahmedabad is the nearest International Airport., Connected to UK, USA and all metro cities in the country.
By train: Ahmedabad is also connected by direct train services from Mumbai, Delhi, Banaglore, Goa and Chennai.
By road: It likes on the national Highway 8, which connects Mumbai with Delhi.
“Hampi in the Karnataka state of India is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites”
Hampi, the domain of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire, amidst boulder strewn landscape is charismatic even in its ruined state and attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims every year, says Rohan Rao.
How to Reach Hampi:
The Shila-Shilp (Stone Carvings) of the granite it bears are scattered everywhere in the vast expanse of Hampi, reminding of the richness and exquisite lineage of Vijaynagara Empire. It is very rightly said, “If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi”
The fragrance of Hampi’s richness was carried by the winds far beyond the shores of India and it was a very much coveted seat then. Now lying in ruins, the Vijaynagara dynasty of the 14th Century, seated at Hampi, spreads over 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, these granites have an epic engraved in their bodies and silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways, crumbling plinths, dilapidated walls with the weeds and shrubs widening their cracks, the arches and the architectural grandeur of Hampi tell a tale of men infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction. Every rock, every path and every monument at Hampi speak the same language; a language of glory and beauty.
Dotted around the hills and valleys are 500 plus monuments. Among them are beautiful temples, basement of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings. Hampi is a backpackers’ paradise, the same way the pilgrims’ delight.
In March 2002, the Government of India has announced that Hampi would be developed as an international destination centre. The State Govt. will constitute a Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authorityfor integrated development and conservation of Hampi.
Renowned historian and Kannada literary scholar M Chidananda Murthy had earlier this year demanded the Karnataka Government to take steps to confer special status to World Heritage centre Hampi on the lines of Vatican City. Dr Murthy, who had done extensive study on the Hampi ruins, alleged that the seat of power of the then Vijaynagara Empire, destroyed by a confederation of Muslim kings, still stood unprotected.
Karnataka state government has released Rs 20 crore for infrastructure development at the heritage site of Hampi. The tourism ministry has already taken steps like launching tongas for visitors to go around Hampi. Soon, battery-run vehicles will be introduced to minimise pollution. Earlier Hampi was listed under UNESCO’s endangered, but the removal of the name of world heritage site Hampi from the list of endangered monuments last year is recognition for the Hampi Development Authority which took up several works to develop it as the historic spot as per the guidelines of UNESCO. The Vijaynagara Festival organized by the Government of Karnataka in December recreates the grandeur of the bygone era.
An entire day, which the tourism packages offer to witness and experience the grandeur of Hampi, is very very limited. Imaginations, they say run wild, but even a lifetime is sometimes too short to imagine the richness that Hampi harboured in the Golden era. Still some of the significant monuments and major tourism attractions that can be witnessed give an insight of the glorious past.
Source – old archives of portal india-travel.co.in
Its wooden toys, bamboo craft, pottery art, traditional art paintings & carved bison horns are world famous and has been adding to the glory of Sawantwadi since 250 years, says Rohan Rao.
Lined by the golden strips of sun-kissed beaches on one side and bounded by the steep slopes of Deccan plateau on the other, the limited confines of the Konkan caters an unlimited vibrant space to its visitors. With a rich history, varied culture, authentic Konkani food, forts, temples and the untouched serene beaches, Konkan is a blessing bestowed on Maharashtra. Sawantwadi, an elite heritage destination nestled in these beautiful environs of Konkan is a standing testimony to our rich heritage and a sentinel of history waiting to be explored by the touristers. Thus, heritage tourism is an important component of Sawantwadi.
Established by the Sawant Bhonsale dynasty almost 300 years ago, Sawantwadi is basically a heritage town with several ancient heritage spots including Lester gate (1895), the Great Royal Palace (1790s), Chitnis wada (1836), Mathi , Atmeshwar Tali (1891), Vithal Mandir, Raghunath market and 200 years old Kolgaon darwaja.
As part of the Sahayadri hills, it has the second largest biodiversity in the whole of India. Sawantwadi is also known as a Handicraft Town with 250 years of tradition in the manufacture of wooden handicraft, pottery, gold and silver embroidery, lacquer ware and ganjifa.
Hand made Ganjifa Cards of Sawantwadi reminds everyone about richness of its art work. These cards are made from circular pieces of paper on which intricate designs of Dashavtar (Ten Avtars of God Vishnu) are hand painted. Each card pack contains 120 hand painted cards housed in equally colourful box. History says that these cards arrived in Sawantwadi 350 years ago, when Bhonsale, Royal Family of Goa settled here after fleeing from portuguese regime there. The Bhonsales brought several artisans who were versed in woodcarving & paintings. A clan of indigenous people, the Chitkaris, is skilled in the art of painting on playing cards, wooden and clay artifacts, jewellery and other embellishment. The paintings have intricate patterns depicting royal lifestyle as well as spiritual beliefs of the people in the region, dating back to almost the 7th century. This art has been preserved and patronized by the Royal family under the aegis of Sawantwadi.
Color lacquer is applied to the surface of the object to be decorated and the lacquered surface is polished using a ‘kewda’ leaf. Floral patterns are painted on the borders and surfaces. The final step involves painting mythological figures on the surfaces.
The mythological figures are painted with Chitrakatha, Temple or Ganjifa styles. Images belonging to the Chitrakatha style are of bold nature, with the figures depicting some action. Temple style usually portrays deities in a sitting position. Ganjifa is more stylish and depicts the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. This style is especially seen in the famous Ganjifa cards made during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Ecotourism is another major component of Sawantwadi. The town is blessed with natural beauty. Established around a beautiful lake, Moti Talav, it presents a panoramic view of Narendra hill in its background. A water sports center has been established at Moti Talav Lake. The area around the lake has been beautified and a Geneva Jet Fountain is installed at its center further enhancing its beauty. It is replete with ecological wonders providing a rich and unique biodiversity with interesting locations such as Kesari River, which provides water supply to the town of Sawantwadi, Nageshwar falls, Ragheshwar point, and the scenic village of Amboli .
Ecotourism is likely to fuel the demand for greener and eco friendly lifestyles, by catering not only to foreign tourists in search of simple and peaceful lifestyle, but also for the local tourists looking for affordable yet unique atmosphere distinct from urban concrete jungle. At the same time, Ecotourism provides opportunities for local people to improve their standard of living and preserve their cultural heritage, arts and crafts.
Despite the limited tourist amenities in Sindhudurg district, international tourists visit the remote yet well known hill station of Sawantwadi, known for its unique biodiversity, flora and fauna, which has 10 – 12 species of fauna and more than 59 varieties of medicinal plants. The Municipal Council of Sawantwadi has also undertaken a massive tree plantation program along roadsides and gardens. Local varieties of trees that are on the verge of extinction are being specially planted and propagated. These include Moha, Pangara, Palas and Bahawa.
Three unique projects that are shaping up in Sawantwadi are: Shilpagram, Environmental Awareness Center at Narendra Dongar and an Ayurveda-based health Center .
An Artists village, Shilpagram is a replica of the ancient Raghunath market built in 1891. Being developed on a lush green plot of 5 acres, it is built maintaining natural contours and with minimal damage to the surrounding ecosystem. The Shilpagram plan includes working areas for artisans to manufacture wood, clay and bamboo handicrafts as well as pottery and a very rare leather-craft known as Pinguli art. Local folk art like Pinguli puppet show, Dhangari Nritya (shepherd dance), Dashavtaar and Koli Nritya (fisher folk dance), shall be presented in the specially built Amphitheatre at Shilpagram. Cottages are provided for tourists staying overnight. The plan also includes waterfalls operated on solar energy, replicating the famous Amboli waterfalls. Waterfalls and streams have been planned to create a village ambience. The State Bank of India has sponsored the landscaping of the place. Large-scale tree plantation has been undertaken in the entire complex. All structures at the Artist village are constructed using locally available laterite stone.
Ayurveda Health Resort; Sawantwadi is also known for the practice of traditional Indian medicine called Ayurveda. It has one of the best Ayurveda colleges in the country. The center is proposed to be built using eco friendly techniques of construction such as laterite stones and mud walls.
The Environmental Awareness Center is situated on Narendra hill, with 11 acres of tabletop park site land demarcated by the forest department from the lush reserved forest area of the region. The Center will also serve as a demonstration center for eco friendly construction technologies as well as for renewable energy, watershed management, water and waste recycling. It will be a self-sustainable demonstration model for locals and tourists.
Indeed, places like Sawantwadi, with their natural marvels need to be preserved for their own sake. They provide inspiration and spiritual regeneration. They are a powerful representation of the forces of nature. Ecotourism must sustain these resources, not only because they serve as an evolutionary link to our future, but for the pure joy of experience
(source – 2006 archive of portal india-travel.co.in)