It is said that the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. And while travelling, wouldn’t it be great if we can take a step in saving the environment? The concept of sustainable tourism points towards a considerate way to travel the world, ensuring that the natural, social and artistic environment of any place is not disturbed, and that there is minimal or no environmental impact around tourism related activities.
As the UN has declared 2017 to be the international year of sustainable tourism, Wandertrails, an online experiential travel platform, lists seven eco-friendly destinations in India that promote the sustainable tourism initiatives:
1. Uravu Bamboo village, Wayanad, Kerala: A classic example of a village, attaining self sustenance through their bamboo crafts and eco-friendly stays. Very popular as a destination, the guests love the stay and also the village visit and the bamboo craft workshops that are tied in to the offering. Bamboo has significant environmental impact as it helps to rejuvenate degraded lands. The food here is often sourced from the homes of the villagers. The visitors get hands-on experience of the local ways in a truly eco-friendly environment. This also fuels the micro-economic growth of the village.
2. Vanghat, Jim Corbett, Uttarakhand: A true naturalist and conservationist, Sumantha conceptualised Vanghat to give visitors a chance to be one with nature. The famed walking tours of Vanghat will take you through thick forests to learn about the varied flora and fauna. Eco-friendly dwellings that form part of the jungle landscape is a must-do getaway.
3. Farm Kamp, Masinagudi, Tamil Nadu: Built around Ashok’s vision of hosting folks and ensuring that all their meals follow the ‘farm to plate’ mode, Farm Kamp is an eco-friendly stay. All the plants and trees are marked with its botanical as well as common name, and guests are treated to insights on each of them. The farm animals are a treat to watch and feeding them, milking the cows, picking the eggs, etc, are engaging activities which give guests, especially children, a chance to be a part of an actual functioning farm. Self-sustenance and eco-friendly are the mantras that drive Farm Kamp.
4. SaveAGram, Garhwal, Uttarakhand: Talk about empowering an entire village and building an ecosystem to provide rustic experiences while ensuring that the tourism adheres to sustainability and eco-friendliness. Well, that is the journey that Amala and her team are on. A house within the village is converted in to a stay, with all meals made of ingredients that are organic and grown by the village farmers, getting insights in to the tribal culture. A large chunk of the proceeds go to the villagers to elevate their lives as a community. The larger shared vision is to showcase the benefits of organic farming and how it adds to overall well being.
5. Shola Shack, Wayanad, Kerala: Highly driven individuals came together to create a wonderful stay retaining and showcasing the natural indigenous flora and fauna, rather than opting for laying out fancy lawns and showcasing ornamental plants. This is an exemplary initiative of eco-tourism that redefines community living and being in absolute harmony with nature. The eco-friendly toilets installed here ensure non-contamination of the environment. A part of the proceeds from the stay go towards creating a corpus fund for the health care needs of tribals. They also facilitate studies on the music and art forms of the local tribes.
6. Maneland, Gujarat: Maneland is built on the principle of being one with nature. From the Bela stone architecture and oxygen laden patch of fruit trees to the majestic arches and windows that allow the entry of natural light, Maneland is a nature lover’s heaven. To top it off, it is the only property in Gir that recycles its kitchen waste to produce natural compost that is used to nourish the nearby trees.
Maneland will soon roll out solar heaters and panels, an organic kitchen garden, and a unique rainwater harvesting system that will recharge the groundwater levels in the thirsty Gir jungle.
7. Serai Kothi, Madhya Pradesh: This jungle stay imparts the know-how regarding wildlife preservation and also fuels eco-tourism. All the employees are from the local village and a village walk to ensure that people get a sense of the life here is built in to the stay offering.