Nature Tourism in Kerala

86The southern part of India is blessed with a state rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage called Kerala. Listed as one of the ten paradises of the world by the National Geographic Magazine, Kerala being bordered by the lovely Blue mountain ranges in the East, and Arabian Sea to the west, Kerala has a lot of forests and a famous beautiful 600 miles of sea shore that gives a beautiful contrast of beautiful terrains.

Kerala, belonging to the tropical region, the climate is humid throughout the year. Monsoon in this region lasts for about 8 months, and one can expect rain any day. This typical climate is the reason why the forests in Kerala are tropical wet evergreen in nature. There are also deciduous highland forests in the mountainous regions of the Nilgiris.

The forests of Kerala act as host to thousands of species of trees and plants. Rosewood, Teak, Mahagony, Cassia, large varieties of Bamboo, Cardamom, Pepper etc are seen in abundance in the forests. There is a Teak museum in Nilambur, Malappuram district. Marayur in Idukki district is famous for Sandalwood.

The major trees in Kerala are Teak, Rosewood, Mahagony, Bamboo, Cassia and plants like Cardamom, Pepper are also prominently found in the forests of Kerala. Marayur in Idukki is a famous Sandalwood forest. Rare and endangered animals like Nilgiri Tahr (Eravikulam), Tiger, Spotted Leopard, Elephants, Lion tailed Macaque, Indian Sloath bear, Bison and Grey Langur are found in Kerala forestsThe major reptiles seen in the forests in Kerala are viper (Anali) king cobra (Rajavembala), python, cobra, ghariyal, Indian Alligator, many rare species of tortoises and turtles etc.

The forests in Kerala are sometimes compared with the Amazon due to its rich biodiversity. Because of this reason, there are six National parks, two biosphere reserves and fifteen wildlife sanctuaries in this state.

The National Parks in Kerala are Eravikulam, Periyar, ANamudi, Mathikettan Shola, Silent Valley, and Parambikulam Shola. The two biospheres in this small state are Nilgiri and Agasthyamalai. Periyar, Neyyar, Parambikulam, Wayanad, Peechi-Vazhani, Idukki, Chimminey, Peppara, Chinnar, Shendurai, Mangalavanam, Aaralam, Mangalavanam, Culannur, and Kurinjimala ara a few of the wildlife sanctuatries. Thattekad bird sanctuary, which was a favourite destination of Dr, Salim Ali is the only bird sanctuary in Kerala.

Many hotels and resorts all over Kerala provide lodging and accommodation to tourists. Tourists can select tour packages of their choice and visit the beauty of the Nature of Kerala.

Mysterious Abode of the Nature Spirits

85Forests have deep-rooted symbolic meaning in virtually every culture on earth. They are viewed as the abode of the nature spirits, especially pixies, trolls and wood elves. Furthermore, they have paradoxical significance: they are both a refuge from danger as well as a source of dangerous wild animals including bears, wolves and mountain lions.

Each tree, in turn, has its own symbolic meaning. For example, oak trees are symbols of strength and endurance. Cedar trees represent healing, cleansing and protection. Apple trees are symbolic of magic, youth, beauty and happiness.

The types of trees determine the type of forest. They fall into the following major categories: tropical, sub-tropical, Mediterranean, temperate, coniferous and montane. The many types are also designated by their distance from the equator and their altitude.

Trees are generally harvested to create fuel and paper. Many individuals are making an effort to use electronic recording means for documents rather than paper to reduce the need for harvesting trees. About half of the wood around the world is used for heating homes and other buildings. Forests are so important to the economy around the world that they are usually managed by local or national governments to prevent illegal logging, accidental fires or other destructive activities.

Their ecosystems are composed of trees, plants, animals, soil, and various microorganisms and they cover about 30% of the earth’s surface. They grow in all types of landscapes including both salt and fresh water areas. In fact, some are located on moving glaciers.

They are mysterious and constantly changing. As a result, they can provide a lifetime of fascinating study and outdoor adventure.

Kathleen Karlsen is a mother of five children with a passionate interest in creating a world where children and youth are free to grow in imagination and joy. She has a lifelong interest in metaphysics, psychology, healing and the arts. She manages a multimedia business with her husband Andrew in Bozeman, Montana.

Nature’s Paradise: Manas National Park

84The night vigil prolonged almost into the wee hours. We were perched on the wooden balcony of the forest bungalow hoping against hope to have a view or darshan of the uncrowned king of the jungle. The darkness was impenetrable and the air was still. Except for the night forest sounds and the thin cackle of the river flowing behind the bungalow there was absolute silence. We were asked to look for a pair of luminous glows coming out of the thick forest beyond into the open courtyard in front of the bungalow. We were told that the animal’s eyes burn at night and that they normally prowl around the bungalow-not for hunting, only for maybe an evening stroll. We were a little scared too if the animal tried to jump into the balcony. However, we were given assurance that the height was good enough, and the animal never becomes aggressive unless provoked dearly. Finally, we had to give up and agree with the general opinion that the animal is rarely sighted there since years.

That was a long time ago at the Mathanguri Forest Bungalow, most sought-after even now, of the Manas National Park of Assam-better known that time as Manas Tiger Reserve. It is a sad commentary that the numbers of the majestic Royal Bengal Tigers are dwindling fast in India. That time the tiger population at Manas was about 125 which decreased to around 60 at present. No doubt, the National Tiger Conservation Authority recently disapproved plans of tiger preservation in 16 states of India including Assam some time back. This puts the onus on the Assam government to thrash out more practical ways to preserve the beautiful species.

The Manas National Park consists of the core area of the sprawling Manas Project Tiger Reserve, which encompasses an area of 2,837 sq. km running into five districts of Assam. The Park has several dense reserve tropical forests and vast stretches of grasslands. The significance of Manas lies on many counts. Considered among the best national parks in the world, Manas is also a Biosphere Reserve, an Elephant Reserve, an Important Bird Area (IBA), and a World Heritage Site. It is a prime tiger habitat that had the country’s second highest concentration of the great cat till the late 1980s and is one of the earliest Tiger Reserves of the country, formed in 1973. In view of its pristine natural Eco-system representing the overall biota of the region, it was elevated to a Biosphere Reserve in 1989 under the UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Programme. It was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1985 as a site of outstanding universal value.

The Mathanguri forest bungalow is situated just by the side of the Manas River, named after the serpent Goddess Manasa of Assam. Water of the river is crystal clear and you can see the river bed littered with stones of various sizes, shapes and colours. Sitting down on the rocky shore you can look beyond to the blue hills of Bhutan on the other side. A view of such natural purity and beauty that it leaves you glued to the spot never wanting to go back to the mundane concrete jungles ever. This nature’s paradise does not offer you much in terms of amenities in the guest houses, but it is more than compensated by the ecstasy you feel looking around and imbibing the spirit of pristine nature.

Manas National Park lies on the gentle slopes of the Himalayan foothills and is located on the north bank of River Brahmaputra. It is bounded on the north by the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan, on the south by the populous North Kamrup district of Assam and on both east and west by buffer forest reserves which are part of the Manas Tiger Reserve. Among the 22 endangered mammal species found in Manas are the pigmy hog, the hispid hare and the golden langur. In fact, Manas boasts of the only viable population of the pigmy hog, the smallest and rarest wild boar, anywhere in the world. It is also the only place where you can see the big five of the Indian jungles – the tiger, the elephant, the rhino, the buffalo, and the gaur. The avian population is impressive too with nearly 500 species of birds of which ten are listed in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. For the tourists the Park provides excitements like white water rafting on the Manas river, trekking, elephant rides and arranged trips into Bhutan on the other side.

This nature’s paradise was in dire straits due to social unrest and insurgency for a decade from the late eighties. However, the vibrant and immensely diverse biosphere emerged successfully again attracting lots of tourists in the last few years. The World Heritage Site was also restored.

Manas National Park is connected by air, rail and road. The nearest airport is Guwahati and it is about 4 hour’s journey by road. By rail, Barpeta Road is the nearest railway station from where you can travel 40 km to the Park by car or bus. The best season is from October to March. If you love nature and want to be in her lap then Manas National Park is the ideal destination for you.


Somewhere Between Culture and Nature

83One Thursday (weeks ago) was the first time that a forest fire spread itself near our town. It was still far enough not to get worried, but the fire nearly reached the boundaries of remote urbanizations; only 50 to 100 meters more down where the first houses were located.

The fire started around seven in the evening and was controlled at about four in the following morning. When I visited the place on Saturday, bits and pieces of the soil was still smoking. There was no more danger an official said. He also explained that the fire was probably provoked. It had started at three or more places and at this time at the evening there was no longer air support. “A calculated action,” they thought.

Whether the fire was really the work of a pyromane remains to be verified, but chances are likely: statistics often point in that way.

The link between culture and nature in case of forest fires lies in their location close to urban areas. In the Amazon large areas of forest have been burned to facilitate agriculture.
Another link of this kind is between human error in the widest sense and forest fires. More people that live near forests will increase the chance of fires.

Climate change is also on the edge between nature and nurture. In the south of Spain land turns massively into desert which is a process where humans play a decisive role: more provoked fires increases the rate in which this happens .

Where You Get Closest To Nature

82In today’s times due to our busy lives, most of us crave to get out of the hustle and bustle and spend some quality time with our loved ones. Camping is one such way to chill out with family and to enjoy the beauty of nature. These days forest camping is in vogue and emerging as a very popular option for families to relax and enjoy – away from the hectic daily lives.

The New Forest is one of the few places in England which provides you a perfect getaway from the stress and routine life besides bringing you close to Nature. This place has a lot to offer for every age group and people with varied interests. The area offers a rich heritage of historical and geographical features that tempts a large number of visitors every year for routine vacations. This unique area is blessed with mesmerizing natural beauty with fresh air and lush open spaces which allures a number of visitors to explore this great destination.

The New Forest Camping is the latest attraction for the visitors. There are many sites that are run by Forestry Commission and Camping and Caravan Club. The major camp sites are located in the areas of Arhurst, Lyndhurst, Stoney Cross, Beaulieu, Lymington, and Brockenhurst. Those with interest in caravanning feel delighted with the varied caravanning facilities offered in the area. Wide variety of flora and fauna and five different species of deer give you a reason to find out more about the natural beauty of the place.

Be it a weekend, day stopovers or longer holidays, New Forest offers plenty of options for everyone. The lawns in the area offer ample space for family goers, especially for kids where they can enjoy being close to the natural beauty and watching some rare species of damselfly and Britain’s dragonfly. Children also feel delighted with the sight of ponies, cattle, donkeys and sheep in herds at the countryside.

The biggest advantage of visiting the area lies in the fact that New Forests Hotels are situated within and near the areas surrounding the national park. So, you can have a comfortable stay at the hotel besides relishing the feast of natural beauty at its best. The Penny Farthing Hotel in Lyndhurst, Four Season Hotel in Hythe, and Candlesticks Inn in Ringwood are the few most popular hotels in the area. If you are more of a camping person, you can contact New Forest Specialist Accommodation and various campsites providers for detailed information about the best place to stay.

If you wish to spend some quality time with your family to relax and commune with Nature, The New Forest area provides you with the perfect destination. Make sure that you do the needful research before you actually start to pack your bags to visit this wonderful destination.