JAIPUR, India – After the forts and the palaces, a new segment of tourism so far only ink on paper is beginning to take shape in Rajasthan. If recent developments are any indicators, eco tourism can assume a new economic proposition in the state.
According to RN Meena, deputy conservator of forest, Bhilwara, “Sunda Mata temple in Jalore district, Bassi in Chittorgarh district, Kumbhalgarh in Rajsamand district are already functional. Hamirgarh and Menal, both in Bhilwara district, are ready but awaiting official inauguration.”
The facility at Hamirgarh, about 25 km from Bhilwara, put up at a cost of Rs 80 lakh, houses a reception, three Swiss tents and two watch towers in an area of 500 ha. But you could also pitch your own tent at the camping site, said Meena.
More than Rs 5 crores are estimated to have been spent in raising tents-cum-room lodge board facilities at small units with capacity to accommodate about 10 persons per night at each place. Each unit will essentially be managed by local forest committees so as to offer jobs to villagers and not involve forest personnel.
Watchtowers, sunset point towers, forest trails, bird watching spots, water troughs for wild animals, signages, etc., have been put up. Since they are not designated sanctuaries, visitors can also have night patrol in the forest.
A few mammals can often surprise visitors in these forests like Sloth Bear, Indian Gazelle, Leopard, Hyena, etc. On getting up in the morning, a visitor at Menal camp photographed droppings of Bear last week, who silently roamed around his tent during night.
“The eco-tourism site at Menal is spread over 600 ha and was developed at the cost of Rs 50 lakh. It has a suite to serve as a guest house and a large tent that can accommodate 20 people. We have involved the local village forest management committee that takes care of the catering and at the same time prevents degradation of green cover,” said Meena.