India is a country with a diverse lifestyle. In Hindu culture, the co-existence of humans and nature is considered virtuous and a necessity for a complete lifecycle. By following these guidelines, Indians have been protecting and conserving wildlife for centuries. However, with the social and economic development, people started exploiting nature and we started losing our flora and fauna over greed.
By creating and spreading awareness of environmental degradation, states have started making laws regarding sustainability and promoting eco-friendly tourism. With this, tourists can visit places closer to nature, without disturbing it. Here’s a list of the Top 4 ecotourism destinations in India.
- Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve, Sikkim
Located in Sikkim, Khangchendzonga Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bordering Nepal to the west and Tibet to the northwest, it is home to exotic animal species like Red Panda, Snow Leopard, Great Tibetan Sheep, Bharal, Musk Deer etc. This Biosphere reserve was established on 26th August 1977 and was named after Mount Khangchendzonga (also known as Kanchenjunga), the third-highest peak in the world. The Reserve is also one of the highest ecosystems in the world, reaching elevations of 1,220 to 8,586 meters above sea level.
Trekking is the most popular tourist activity here. The trips are mainly organized by the State Tourism department along with other travel agents. There are certain restrictions for tourists visiting the Biosphere Reserve. Every tourist has to take mandatory permission from the State Chief Wildlife Warden. If you are a foreign national, you need to have an additional restricted area permit from the Ministry of Home Affairs. For Indian nationals, you need an Inner-Line Permit from the State Home Department along with permission from the State Chief Wildlife Warden.
- Mawlynnong, Meghalaya
Located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, Mawlynnong has earned its name as Asia’s cleanest village. Also known as ‘God’s own Garden’, this village takes pride in sanitation and mandates the residents to participate in keeping the village clean. The waste is collected in bamboo dustbins and is put in a pit to make manure. Smoking and the use of polythene are banned in the village and most people use water by rain harvesting. Since it got its name from the travel magazine Discover India in 2003, this place has attracted many tourists. Other than cleanliness, this village has much more to offer.
The Khasi tribe are the habitants of this village and are also the main attraction of the tourists. The iconic root bridge, the Nohwet Living Root Bridge is found in this village. This bridge showcases the staple Khasi architecture and it was created by weaving roots of the Rubber (Ficus Elastica) tree on the framework throughout generations. The atmosphere in this village is serene and helps you relax and take a break from your busy life. In short, you can enjoy your time here connecting with nature.
- Chilika, Odisha
Spread over the Puri, Khordha and Ganjam districts of Odisha, Chilika Lake is a brackish water lagoon on the East coast of India. Situated in the mouth of river Daya, this lake is the second largest lake in India, after the Vembanad Lake. Chilika is an as important habitat and a breeding point for both resident and migratory bird species. Every year, it hosts over 160 bird species and has the largest ground for wintering for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent. You can also sight the Irrawaddy Dolphin in this lagoon.
Tourists mainly flock here to see the endangered dolphins and the variety of bird species. They can also enjoy activities like boating, walking on nature trails and visiting sites like Rambha Bay, Somolo and Dumkudi Islands, Kalijai Temple, etc.
- Tsomoriri Wetland Conservation Reserve, Ladakh
Located in the Northern plains of Ladakh, Tsomoriri Reserve is the largest of the high-altitude lakes in India. The lake is located in the Trans-Himalayan biographic region, bordering Tibet to the East and Zanskar to the West. The lake water is formed from the springs and snow melt from the mountains of the Changthang plateau. This reserve has a landscape of low-productive ecosystems and protects unique species. 34 species of birds, 14 of which are water birds, are breaded and protected in this reserve. You can also find many endangered mammal species like Tibetan gazelle, Goa antelope, Bharal Himalayan blue sheep, etc and carnivores like snow leopard and Tibetan wolf habituating in this reserve.
Tourists can indulge in activities like camping, bird watching, and trekking. As there is plenty of wildlife surrounding the area, you can also explore the Himalayan wildlife on the high plateaus. Tourists also visit the Korzok village and the Korzok Monastery, located just 3 kilometres away from the lake.
There’s an old Lakota proverb, “When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard”. In this city life, we are constantly trying to fit into the standards set by society. Continuous efforts to prove ourselves worthy in the eyes of society make us insensitive towards nature and its laws. And as a result, we end up hurting nature, which in return backfires on our lives itself. The meaning of ecotourism is responsible travel and assisting in conserving nature. By conserving nature, we conserve our homes and our livelihood. So, return to your basics and never forget, planet Earth is our home.
Ashwathi Anoopkumar is a student pursuing her Master’s degree in Mass
Communication and Journalism. She has a content writing experience of 1.8
years and has written for multiple genres.