Tourism projects based on Nature, which includes environment awareness programmes and interpretations along with benefits to local people can be termed as eco tourism. Eco tourism should maintain the rhythm of nature along with the tourism activities. The International Eco tourism society/TIES, defines eco tourism as, 'responsible travel that conserves the nature and sustains the well-being of local people'. In short eco tourism is the co existence of nature conservation and nature tourism projects.
Eco Tourism @ Kerala/India
Kerala, the small Indian state which is bordered with the green stretched western ghat mountains in the east and beautiful beaches along the shores of Arabian sea in the west, no wonder the natural topography with rivers and mountains are much ideal for Tourism of all kind. Tourism being the major revenue to the state, it can't be ignored as well as the God gifted Natural beauty along with the flora and fauna has to be preserved from the hazards of Tourism. Their emerged the concept of eco tourism and started ecological friendly tourism project developments with utter care given to the fragility of nature we are getting engaged into.Thenmala eco tourism is just one among them and also the first planned eco tour project of Kerala and even India.
It's found that about 60 percent of worlds plants, reptiles, fishes, amphibians, birds, mammals etc are seen in about 25 spots of the world which covers only 1.4 percent of the whole land area. Western ghat forests are considered one among those spots and thus conservation of nature and wildlife is most important here.
Along with the Western Ghats forests which abounds Kerala's eastern side, about 2324 square kilometer is considered protected area having two National Parks and 12 Wildlife sanctuaries. The eco system inside the tropical forests of western ghats is an ideal support from the part of Nature for the development of eco-tourism projects here in Kerala.
Eco-Tourism Projects of Kerala
Thenmala Eco Tourism-India's first Planned Eco Tourism Project:The Eco-Tour Area Map and Infos
The first planned eco tourism project implementation done in India, is in and around the Parappar dam and Shenthurinny wildlife sanctuary forests of Thenmala. The eco tourism project here in Thenmala is a joint venture by the Forest, irrigation and Tourism departments of Kerala. Thenmala is a small village in the valley of western ghat mountain ranges and is seen covered in the tropical deciduous mixed forested land.
Thenmala the Malayalam word means Honey Mountains and the honey collected from these forests is considered special and medicinal. You being a traveler especially if comes under the category of nature lover or one who loves trekking, forest traveling and forest camps, this eco tour spot is ideal for you. You can do trekking and forest explorations in the dense greenery, cladding the mountain slopes and valleys here in Thenmala.
Eco Tourism zones of Thenmala
The eco tourism project attractions and activities of Thenmala are distributed in 3 zones coming in around 500 meters radius. The major spots of this ecotour spot are:-
Thenmala Eco-tour Project area Map
This map of the eco tour project area is photographed from the wall painting of tourist facilitation centre, where you should go first to take the entry tickets for various tourist zones.You may take this map picture and enlarge to see the tour spots.
The road that approaches the culture zone from your left hand side is the pocket road from Nh208 which you may take when coming from Kollam side. The road that joins the junction infront of Thenmala Dam area is the one coming from Trivandrum, and going straight through it will get you into the NH208 again towards Palaruvi waterfalls, Kuttalam waterfall etc.
Adventure zone, Culture Zone and Leisure zones are marked in this Thenmala eco-tour map along with sculpture Garden, Deer Rehabilitation centre, lookout point, boating start point, Sway or Hanging bridge etc. The dam shown in the map is Parappar dam which is the heart of KIP irrigation project and also a Hydro Electric Dam. The river that continues from the dam reservoir is River Kallada.
View of Thenmala Sway Bridge from the Nature Pathways through leisure zone's Sculptures Garden
This photograph is taken while we were walking around in the sculpture gardens of leisure zone here in Thenmala. The sway bridge is a walking hanging bridge structure supported by steel cables. The bridge is across the river Kallada which continues flowing with the water released from the dam spillway and powerhouse while electricity is being generated.
You can see the dam wall and spillway shutters face to face from the bridge and another bridge can be seen on the other side which is used for normal transportation purpose. The sway bridge connects leisure zone to the dam entrance area, through which you can walk to the top of the dam wall to have a view of the reservoir. But the gate towards the dam area was seen closed. May be due to the lateness of the hour we happened to be there.
Culture Zone Attractions @ Thenmala Ecotourism
- Amphitheatre- For performing Kerala's traditional and local arts form for tourists.
- Butterfly Park- An open garden for butterflies of the local eco system.You can walk through the nature trails in the park to watch and study about the butterflies.
- Nakshatra Vanam- Garden made of 27 Trees which are associated 27 birth stars. You can walk around and read about the trees from the tourist info boards. If not enough, you can buy a book named Stars and Trees, trees of Nakshatravanam, available from the tourist facilitation centre for Rs 250/-. The book is prepared by TEPS with the help of Tropical botanical gardens, Palode.
- Shop Courts- Women administered shops selling local forest products.
- Musical Dancing Fountains- An open air gallery for watching Musical Dancing Fountains. The gallery is arranged as semicircular steps progressing upward with lawn grass grown in between. You can watch Musical fountain here on all working days starting at 7pm having half an hour duration. On holidays last show is at 8.05 pm. Monday there is no show, and the ticket rates are, Adult INR 30, and child INR 20.
Tourist Facilitation Centre
Tourist facilitation centre is integrated with the Culture zone. you can get the entry tickets to all tour zones from here. dormitory accomodations, car parking, toilets etc like amenities are arranged around here. Jungle camping programmes also have to be arranged from here. Working time of the eco tourist facilitation centre is from 9 am to 7:30pm on all working days.
Leisure Zone Attractions @ Thenmala Eco Tourism
Tour attractions in the Leisure Zone of Thenmala eco tourism is mainly the sculpture garden. The theme of the sculpture garden is 'Man and Nature'. Apart from sculpture gardens, nature trails, board walks, ferns garden, sway bridge, resting spots etc are there. Trekking trips can be arranged from here too.Deep woods soft trekking and biking programme is available here which may last from 2 to 4 hours, in which you gonna explore swamp forests.
Adventure Zone Attractions @ Thenmala Eco Tours
Elevated Canopy walkways, rock climbing, mountain biking, river crossing, valley crossing, Burma bridge, spider net, pedal and row boating, photo point rock, rapelling, trust fall, target practice with bow and arrow and a knot museum are the attractions here. Trekking trips and forest tent camps can be arranged here.This place with its hill winding nature trails are enough to attract any nature tourists here. Fish aquariums of Kerala malsyafed can be seen just beside the adventure zone spot.
Trekking Trips and Rates,@ Thenmala Eco Tourism
Trekking programmes and night camps are coordinated and overseen by National Adventure Foundation. Guided forest tours, Bird watching trails etc through the forests of shenduruny wildlife sanctuary are available with durations of one to three days.
The trekking programmes available are:-
- Soft Trekking- A 4km trekking tour to the mystic swamp forests. Maximum trekkers can be 19 and minimum should be 5 to start the trekking trip. Trekking Trip rate is a minimum of INR 250/- Rs 50 for adults and Rs 30 for children. International tourists have to pay INR 100. Extra taxes are applicable.
- Shenduruny Wildlife sanctuary trekking trips- Two trekking trips are available of 10 and 20 Kms distance. The 10 Km one is Nature Walk (6 hour half day trekking programme) and starts in two timings, 7am and 11am. Its about INR 600 for 10 persons and extra persons have to pay RS 75/- each. Maximum of 20 persons included in a trip. The 20 Km trekking trip named as Kananayatra, is considered a full day trekking programme with 8 hours duration. The trekking trip costs INR 1000 for a group of 5 and Rs 250/- extra for each addition. Food inclusive for the trekking rates. Maximum of 10 members is included in a trip which also starts by 7 am and 11am of the day.
- Riverine Biking trail- Forest cycling trip to inner forest swamps. Minimum of two persons in a trip and maximum of 4 can be included. Per person the rate is RS 100 and 200 minimum for a single trip. Foreign tourists have to pay Rs 150 per person. Extra taxes applicable.
For trekking trip details in Thenmala ecotourism centre, contact- 0475-2344600
Tourist Attractions around Thenmala Ecotourism
- Palaruvi Waterfalls- An inner forest waterfalls of 300 feet height, a few kilometres away from the eco tourism centre at Thenmala dam premises.
- Deer Park- Its actually part of Thenmala eco tourism project. About 1 kilometer away from eco tour facilitation centre.
- Weir Dam- Its also called lookout point, a small dam at ottakkal from where the irrigation canals are fed with water.
- Tree house- Inside the Deer park of Thenmala.
- Punalur Hanging bridge- 30 Kms away from Thenmala in the nearest town called Punalur, this old british built hanging bridge stands.
- 13 arch bridge- Another huge railway bridge with 13 arches on the way to palaruvi waterfalls from Thenmala.
- Manalar and Kumbavurutty waterfalls- near to Achenkovil near to the Temple of Lord Ayappa. Have to treak half a kilometer to reach Kumbavurutty falls. Tree houses for children and nature interaction centres are there. Manalr is a seasonal waterfalls entirely depending on Rains.
- Kuttalam or Courtallam waterfalls- About 30 Kms away from palaruvy waterfalls.
Tourist Accomodation Facilities and Rates
Dormitories for about 42 persons is available near the tourist facilitation centre. Rates are about INR 85/- per person plus taxes. Food has to be arranged in extra from the nearby restaurants.
contact and enquiries, ph: 0475-2344800, mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tented Tourist Accomodations @ Adventure Zone
About eight tents for sixteen people can be arranged here in adventure zone. Each tent with a capacity of two people. Timing from 6pm to 8am next day, and rates ranges from INR 400 to 1000, and foreign tourists have to pay a little extra. Food to be bought extra. what comes with the tent is a carry mat and sleeping bag.
contact details, ph: 0475-2344800, mail: email@example.com
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