Thursday 24 February 2011

The Wild India - My exclusive Blog on Wildlife and Nature

TOURISM – The Indian way to look at it !



Most of the Indians go in for the following 5 types of Tourisms :


(1) Hills – Plenty of them, not just Himalayas, but anything above 500 m above sea level and having a climate of 20 degrees as against the average 37 degrees is proudly considered a hill gateway ;)
(2) Beaches- 70 % of India has a coastline giving some great beaches to visit and each state has some great and more importantly accessible beaches
(3) Pilgrimage – Indians are usually the God-fearing or god-loving types and all religions be it Hindus, Jain, Muslim, South Indians, Sikhs will have multiple options for the same, and each state would have multiple places worshipped since ages and believed strongly in
(4) Leisure – this would cover luxury properties, spas, massages, shopping etc. That’s why some of the best properties do a great business !
(5) Heritage tourism – would be like Rajasthan, Jaisalmer, Taj etc. where one would find good history, monuments and the buried stories of the past.


Most of the Indians spend across Category 1-4 and a very few towards the 5th one – Heritage tourism as the same requires a flare of history and above all patience, which Indians would normally lack.


Ideally a core requirement of a common Indian from anywhere in the country would be a good memorable place, good food and good spots to visit. Therefore crowded places like Simla, Darjeeling, Kulu, Lonavala, Khandala etc thrive in business despite the shitty offerings full of crowd much more than the local trains of Mumbai ! But, the numbers speak good – what can one do !


Offlate, you hear Indians splurging on Adventure sports like Bungee Jumping, Skydiving etc. Again a typlical Indian mentality of “why do I spend my own money to screw my happiness” overlaps the attitude to buy your thrill and the witness is the lack of such sports in India besides some River rafting sports in various parts of India. The world is moving a step further where tourists go for a “Horror Toursim” where you are taken to various locations and haunted properties like palaces, theatres, colleges, etc where you”may” encounter a spirit.


The Niche

But India, is still too behind in the evolving tourism options, but yes- there is always a niche for these tourisms. There are people like us who would want to go to a place less traveled and explore and enjoy the nature. Be it, exploring and sitting on a silent lake at Jawahar, Maharashtra where no tourists would come or find a natural waterfall in Panchgani valleys or taking a night walk at Periyar, Kerala or the not so common boat ride at the Rain Forests of Tama Negara in Malaysia where Anaconda was shot or explore the unexplored side of Goa where you may not find much Indians. Every place has such unexplored side of its and one common factor here is “NATURE” – Untouched and gifted !

Wild Life Tourism

One such niche tourism for the Nature lovers is WILDLIFE TOURISM. I come from a Gujju family and till date, 99% of our family tourisms in India or abroad were in the above 5 categories, till the last few years wherein our trips in the above 5 categories are just 20% and 80% into the NATURAL LOCATIONS, where the common man would not want to go. When I ask my mother or uncle to join in for a Wild life tourism, the reaction is “Sher dekhna hi hai to itni door jungle mein kyon jaaye, zoos are here” (If you want to see a Tiger, why take so much pain to go to a jungle, better visit a nearby zoo) and this will be the statement in most Indian families, the proof is 75% of the tourists for wild life are foreigners.


But, its not just seeing a tiger, the whole experience of exploring the jungle on your own, in an open gypsy early in the morning when its pitch dark and seeing the shades of the forest changing every minute as the sun rises and the efforts you put in to trace a tiger or a lion and the adrenalin kick you get when you after good efforts find a tiger with its cub or a herd of wild elephants or a rare leopard is more than winning a Million Dollars in the Vegas. And enjoying the wild in its natural habitat is a heavenly experience which many of my other holidays put together could have given me.


How it started

This started in 2007, when me and Gautam, my past colleague visited South Africa on a business trip. I used to surf through TV Channels and the shots on beautiful wildlife made me stick to the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet that I ended up spending hours on it. I had decided that post our business trip, we would want to visit a Wild Life Safari or a Game Sanctuary in South Africa as most of the wild shoots were from Africa. We decided to go to PILANESBERG SANTUARY in South Africa and my “Wild Life Bug” was born. Though as a Kid, I had visited Sunderbans and Kaziranga as a part of my 5 category Indian trip, the same was not that exciting as (a) I was a small kid and (b) It was not so important to visit these places and we just happened to have visited them.


But, post (1) PILANESBERG- South Africa, its 4 years now and I have visited 7 Wild Life Safaris / National Parks like (2) BANDAHVGARH (Madhya Pradesh) (3) KANHA (Madhya Pradesh) (4) MELGHAT TIGER RESERVE (Maharashtra) (5) TADOBA NATIONAL PARK (Maharashtra) (6) THE GREAT HIMALAYAN NATIONAL PARK-(H.P). (7) PERIYAR TIGER RESERVE / THEKKADY (Kerala) (8) GIR NATIONAL PARK (Gujarat) and have committed myself to visit at least 1-2 a year !

India has a huge resource of Wild Life which attracts huge number of foreigners every year mostly between October to March and also from April to June (which is very hot- 47 degrees, but best time to site animals). It was in 2009, when a friend, philosopher and guide from the IFS (Indian Forest Services), the then CFC (Chief Forest Conservator) of Thane, Maharahstra, Shree Bhagwan guided me to Tadoba, where once he held forte, and I was able to sight the best wild life scene of my life, also covered by an interview by the Star News and Star Maaza, I thought that I should do my bit towards “Wild Life” !


Being from the Rajput clan of the Princely state of Wankaner in Gujarat and may be, as my Mom says there is some genes from the ancestors, that I have such a strong liking for wild life. The process remained same – exploring the jungle, tracing the wild, the only differences being they used guns and I use my camera. The big cats adored their palaces and walls and they adore my memories, they cherished and showcased their collections of stuffed tigers and other wild animals to the world, and I through this blog am trying to showcase the beauty of the Indian wildlife to the world.

The Wild India - www.wildIndia.blogspot.com


Welcome to the Wild India and through this medium, I would try to bring you close to each of the exciting wild life and nature experiences we have, right from explaining you how to go, where to live, what to do, some secret spots and ofcourse some exciting pictures. Hope you enjoy this and hope this blog would help promote wild life as a tourism adding on to the revenue of the country, giving employment to the local tribals and for the generation of tomorrow to conserve nature ! Do visit and share your feedback.

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