5 Top Ecotourism Destinations in India
India is a land of enormous geographical diversity. So it offers a lot of ecotourism opportunities to the tourist. It has many destinations that not just fascinate but also rejuvenate travellers. That makes the task of choosing Top Ecotourism Destinations in India very tough one. Ecotourism is a form of tourism involving visiting fragile, pristine, and relatively undisturbed natural areas. It is intended as a low-impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism.
Its purpose may be to educate the travellers, to provide funds for ecological conservation, to directly benefit the economic development and political empowerment of local communities, or to foster respect for different cultures and for human rights. The few places like the Himalayan Region, Kerala, the northeast India, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and the Western Ghats are some of the places where you can enjoy the treasured wealth of the Mother Nature.
Based on unique ecology, endemism, biodiversity and tourism potential these are the 5 Top Ecotourism Destinations in India.
Top Ecotourism Destinations in India are:
Ladakh is the heaven for those who are looking for ecological and cultural tourism. The pristine beauty and the varieties of activities like trekking, white-water rafting, wildlife safaris and sightseeing attract thousands of people to this region. Besides the scenic mountain landscape, Ladakh is also home to a variety of cultural resources like – local agricultural methods, festivals, food and ancient monasteries. Ladakh also supports a high-altitude ecosystem of uncommon and endangered flora and fauna.
Ladakh’s ecosystem is possibly the most unique and by far the most mind-boggling in the world. With its barren plateaus and uplands, Ladakh boasts a distinct alpine, floral and faunal variety. Ladakh houses several flowering plants, a dozen of most rare mammals and over a hundred species of birds in its rugged terrain. Most of the species are classified as endangered or rare.`
Watching wild yak garaging in small patches of grasslands is a visual treat. The snow leopard is Ladakh’s most rare animal and you will be lucky if you spot it. Other than these famous animals many other unique animals such as kyang or the wild horse, musk deer, mouse hares, stone martens, red foxes, wolves, ibex, bharal and shapu are also found here.
The bird watcher can spend friutful hours by observing Bactrian magpies, grey tits, chough, raven, sparrow, kite, kestrel, Turkoman rock pigeon, chukor, finches, buntings, larks, desert wheateaters, a many more varieties of birds.
2. Andaman & Nicobar Islands
The Andaman and Nicobar in India are a group of picturesque islands, big and small, inhabited and uninhabited, lying in the Bay of Bengal. They lie along an arc in long and narrow broken chain; approximately North-South over a distance nearly 800 km. Mother Nature has been very generous to these islands in endowing them with rich biodiversity which is displayed in various forms of flora and fauna on land and in the water surrounding the islands.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands are developing into a major ecotourism hub with its exotic looking beaches, pristine islands and unique flora and fauna. These islands provide wonderful opportunities for adventure sports like snorkeling and sea-walking & scuba diving.
Their uniqueness lies in the high degree of endemism, particularly, in avifauna. Forests cover more than 84% of the islands’ geographical area. A clean and pollution free environment and lush green forests surrounded by blue sea water make A & N islands one of the most favored destinations for ecotourism.
Jolly Buoy & Red Skin islands located in Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, about 30 km from capital city of Port Blair, offer a breathtaking underwater view of coral and marine life.
3. Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala
Periyar tiger Reserve, Thekkady, is an example of nature’s bounty, with great scenic charm, rich biodiversity and providing veritable visitor satisfaction. Sprawled over an area of 777 Sq .km., Periyar is one of the 47 tiger reserves in India.
Zealously guarded and efficiently managed reserve is a repository of rare, endemic and endangered flora and fauna and forms the major watershed of two important rivers of Kerala, the Periyar and Pamba
People oriented and park centered community-based ecotourism is the hallmark of Periyar Tiger Reserve. These programmes are conducted by local people responsible for the surveillance of the vulnerable parts of the reserve. By taking tourists along, they are involved in the conservation of the forests of Periyar and some valuable revenue is generated for community welfare.
People who once made a living by illegal operations in the forests have since become forest protectors and earn their livelihood through these programmes. Hence, as a visitor, when you join them in any of these programmes, you are directly contributing towards forest conservation and community welfare.
4. Silent Valley National Park, Kerala
The Silent Valley National Park is a unique preserve of natural rain forests. It is located in picturesque nilgiri hills. Within an area of 237. 52 Sq.km, it houses a rich mosaic of varied habitats. The park is one of the last undisturbed tracts of South Western Ghats mountain rain forests and tropical moist evergreen forest in India. Silent Valley is an ideal destination for nature lovers, researchers and gutsy trekkers.
Silent Valley is home to the largest population of lion-tailed macaques, an endangered species of primate. There are many such species of mammals, insects, trees and flowering plants which are unique to this park only.
The flora of the valley includes about a 1000 species of flowering plants, 108 species of orchids, 100 ferns and fern allies, 200 liverworts, 75 lichens and about 200 algae. A majority of these plants are endemic to the Western Ghats.
Silent Valley has been identified as high in biodiversity and an important Gene Pool resource by the researchers. Many new species of insects are being discovered here every year.
Many of the tribals living near to the valley now work for the Forest Department in the park as forest guards and visitor guides. As these tribals are familar with the park so they are halping hands in the ecotourism.
5. Manas National Park
Manas National Park a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site is Located in the Himalayan foothills in Assam. The park is known for it’s rare and endangered endemic wildlife such as the Assam Roofed Turtle, Hispid Hare, Golden Langur and Pygmy Hog. Manas is famous for its population of the Wild water buffalo. These specialities make this national park as a perfect destination for ecotourism.
The presence of two different biomes, grassland & forest adds to the biodiversity and unique ecology of the park. The park has wild animals specifics to The grassland biomes such as pygmy hog, Indian rhinoceros, bengal florican, wild Asian buffalo, etc. At the same time, wild animals specific to The forest biomes such as slow loris, capped langur, wild pig, sambar, great hornbill, Malayan giant squirrel or black giant squirrel, etc are also present.
The monsoon forests of Manas lie in the Brahmaputra Valley. The combination of Sub-Himalayan Bhabar Terai formation with riverine succession leading up to the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests makes it one of the richest biodiversity areas in the world.
The sanctuary has recorded 55 species of mammals, 380 species of birds, 50 of reptiles, and 3 species of amphibians. Out of this wildlife, 21 mammals are India’s Schedule I mammals and 31 of them are threatened.
The fauna of the sanctuary include Asian elephants, Indian rhinoceros, gaurs, Asian water buffaloes, barasingha, Indian tigers, leopards,clouded leopards, Asian golden cat, capped langurs, golden langurs, Assamese macaques, slow loris, hoolock gibbons, smooth-coated otters, sloth bears, barking deer, hog deer, black panther, sambar deer and chital.