My Favorite #ResponsibleTravel Getaways In India

Any tourist or traveler worth his salt must have come across the terms of Eco-Tourism and Responsible Travel. It has almost become a buzz-word and about time. While most people have a vague idea, it is important to understand what it really means and entails!

Ecotourism-A way for you to have your cake and eat it too

It is important to understand that there is no particular destination for travelling responsibly. Responsible Travel is a  habit and once learnt can never be forgotten. The need of the hour is to educate and be aware of what it takes to minimize our demands in whatever we do to save the only habitable planet from the harmful effects of global warming for a greener future. And travelling responsibly lets you do just that!

Also read- My Heart Warming Travel Experiences That Might Completely Change The Way You Travel

I would love to take you through a number of destinations that you can explore once you have decided to become responsible of our choices. India is a land with huge diversity of dry deserts, snow-clad mountains, rainforests and the grasslands which are prefect to promote ecotourism.

1. Valparai, Tamil Nadu

The endangered Nilgiri Tahr (A large mammal, close relative of sheep, shares common ancestors with cattle, horses etc) protected under section I of the Wildlife Protection Act in India can be witnessed grazing here. Valparai is located at 3,500 feet above the sea level on the Anamalai Hills in Tamil Nadu. While you trek down the Shola forests and the lush green tea gardens you might come across Wild Elephants and Great Hornbills. Homestays for tourists is the best option to live and explore the place.

Nilgiri tahr takes a stroll where no human would dare to walk!

Nilgiri tahr takes a stroll where no human would dare to walk!

2. Chatru and Chandratal lake, Himachal Pradesh

Eco-tourism in India is about visiting the clearest and most pristine lakes in India while at the same time ensuring that it stays like that! You should always reach these spots by foot because that will help keep the water pure. According to locals, this lake situated at a height of 4,300 meters, has immense spiritual significance. The water can be consumed without much purification. The temperature here reaches up to -20 degrees.

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The snow-hooded mountains turned upside down by the beauty of Chandratal Lake

3. The Seven Sister States

The North-East of India (The states of Arunachal-Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland) is a must-visit on every eco-traveller’s bucket list. These rich tropical rainforests harbours rare and unique species like the Clouded Leopard, One-horned Rhino, Gayal- in the most simple words the wild ox and the only ape found in India-the Hoolock Gibbon. The Hornbill Festival in Nagaland is a once in a lifetime experience, celebrated every year in the first week of December.

northeast india map, ecotourism in India

The seven sister states and their relative positions!

4. Kokrebellur near Mysore

This village is a prime example of a harmonious relationship between humans and threatened birds- the Spot Billed Pelican and the Painted Storks. The villagers let these birds occupy trees and roofs of their houses, they say the bird droppings are an organic manure for their crops. The villagers here welcome the birds like their daughters. When you reach this place as a traveller you would love to hear incredible stories on sustainable living from kids here.

Pelican, eco tourism in India

The Spot-billed pelican takes-off

5. The Crocodile Park, Puducherry

Chennai to Puducherry is a beautiful long drive along the stunning coastline of the Bay of Bengal. Every year Olive-Ridley Turtles come to the shore of Puducherry and lay eggs. A lot of destruction have been caused by tourists visiting these beaches during December to February. Most of these turtles are caught by fishermen and the eggs are consumed by locals. Sometimes mere presence of tourists and touristic activities can unknowingly cause disturbances to this vulnerable species. Ecotourism in India can help in changing the general mindset of the people.

Oliver ridley turtles, eco tourism in India

This is what you wouldn’t do because you are now an eco-tourist. You have promised to take all necessary steps for conservation

6. Spiti-Valley

One of the most magnificent valleys in the Himalayas is a home for the near threatened Griffon Vulture. Vultures have suffered 99.9% population decline- most of it owing to habitat destruction and lack of food. The clear blue water of Spiti river is breathtaking and pollution free although at some places you will find traces of human waste disturbing the fragile ecosystem. At Spiti you may come across the elusive snow leopard- if you’re really lucky! There are only 400 odd left in India. The temperature here might go up to -20 degrees. It is advisable to go well prepared to enjoy this picturesque tranquil valley.

Spiti River, eco tourism in India

On careful observation you might be able to see the river bed through the crystal clear water of Spiti River!

7. Bisle Rainforest, Western Ghats

The Western Ghats in India are a biodiversity hotspot. Bisle rainforest is a home for numerous snakes, frogs, birds and mammals. Although I must warn you before you head out on an exploration here -the forest here is dense vegetation with fog, cold breeze and rains adding to it. Leeches are among the least creepy creatures that you will come across. Be prepared for facing Wild-Elephants, Leopards or a group of Wild Dogs. If this doesn’t excite you enough the most dangerous sloth bear might just be waiting outside your tent. Be careful and recall the first point I had mentioned at the start of this post.

Bisel forest range, eco tourism in India

Clouds took over while I was driving through the Bisle forest range

Although wherever you go, it is important is to realize the need of travelling responsibly and knowing every piece of it. You might like to take my 9 step eco-tour guide before you head off to any of these destinations.

Don’t forget to tell me all about your favorite destination and your responsible travel habits in the comments! Love hearing from your guys.

PS: This article was published in Holidify.com. And I will soon be publishing part-2 of this article.

PPS: Don’t forget to check my work with me page!

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Travel lessons- Find your soul, what are you?

The beautiful blue sea at Kodi Bengre- A small town on the coasts of Karnataka, India
The beautiful blue sea at Kodi Bengre- A small town on the coasts of Karnataka, India

The sea is so gorgeous. When you stand in front of it, it shows you what space you occupy in this huge world. You’re a tiny speck lost in yourself, difficult to find and constantly fighting with the numerous external and internal factors. Who knows what you are, who you are? No one, but you yourself will find the answer one day.

Some say you must meditate, maintain relationships, listen to your parents, follow your elders/mentors, explore and travel to get there, to lead a happy life. But I doubt! I don’t think anyone can answer it for you.

No one but you will know whether you need meditation, exploration or a relationship! It just takes one moment, one thought, to realize and find your soul. Although when will that thought trigger, no one knows. It isn’t age dependent or time dependent. It just happens, like you fall in love but it is still a mystery.

And whether you have the guts to let that thought run your life defines whether you sail successfully like what a ship is suppose to do or are tied to the shore, which is also what some ships do.

The choice is yours of course!

PS: Show love in the comments, by sharing this with your friends and by helping me fund my travel.

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7 Awesome Reasons To Attend The 7 Day PRiMER Course By Gubbi Lab

I am in love with this classroom. The first of its kind where I chose to sit inside rather than standing outside or being absent! ;)
I am in love with this classroom. The first of its kind where I chose to sit inside rather than standing outside or being absent! 😉

To get a chance to study in this brilliant classroom- This Eco-classroom is to die for. The simple classroom ambiance consists of limited chairs, walls made of mud with the natural amber paint, bamboo pillars with hay ceiling and one projector screen for convenience and ease of learning. All this makes a different environment to study in, while providing the much needed natural cooling and light. Who wouldn’t fall in love with studies here?

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Tall coconut and beetle-nut trees make a peaceful outdoors. Most times a flame-back woodpecker called out loud to claim that the heights belonged to him and his flaming female!

To realize you need no “Techie”- Getting to learn the intelligent QGIS, R, PAST softwares step-by-step is an incredible experience. The patience of teaching these skills to everyone coming from diverse backgrounds is an art that the expert teachers from Gubbi Labs have mastered over years. Not only do they teach you the principles behind the data analytics- they also hand hold you through the demo of the software and most importantly- they open your minds to the varied usages of data in ecological and other researches!

Trying to figure out lat-long on a mobile app!
Trying to figure out lat-long on a mobile app!
We’re getting there- to the statistics and much more inside the classroom
We’re getting there- to the statistics and much more inside the classroom

To experience the wonders of an Eco-Toilet- Woah, what? Yes, a brilliant concept of eco-toilet was fascinating for me. It doesn’t mean “In-The-Open”. Eco-toilets have a long history and the concept came from Paul Calvert of EcoSolutions. Sudhira and others of Gubbi Labs realized, at Gubbi Field Station they needed a solution to prevent sewage from entering the fresh water owing to the area’s high water table and the conventional septic tank wasn’t appropriate. With some time spent on google and other secondary research they came up with this brilliant solution to preserve fresh water, stop spread of diseases and maintain hygiene!

Walk that stairway to reach the Eco-toilet!
Walk that stairway to reach the Eco-toilet!
Look at this incredible wash-basin design, who needs the luxury of a glass bowl anyway! ;)
Look at this incredible wash-basin design, who needs the luxury of a glass bowl anyway! 😉

For Gurujee Time- Dr Gururaja KV, a very humble man studying frogs of India and the Western Ghats is a well known Batrachologist. He needs no introduction. Filled with enthusiasm and vigor, he supports students wanting to work in Ecology and gives important insights to their work. He believes “any research is an important one”. Sadly, I haven’t met too many scientists with the same beliefs. Don’t forget to check out this brilliant frog app by him! And read more about him- here

Gurujee takes outdoor classes for his beloved students!
Gurujee takes outdoor classes for his beloved students!

For Frogging, Birding, Lorising and much more- The course is filled with interesting field sessions sometimes with real frogs and sometimes with rubber ones- both packed with their own cuteness! The backyard of the classroom is a home for many endemic birds like Grey francolins, White-browed bulbuls and Short-toed snake eagles. These sessions are awesome to rejuvenate you while the experts from Gubbi add that missing piece with their helpful insights.

Gurujee has a whole lot of toy frogs (which resemble and feel like the living frogs) for you to experience it hands on. You do not want to mess up with the real frogs. This red frog-head is my favorite among others. Isn’t that filled with “Aww!” :)
Gurujee has a whole lot of toy frogs (which resemble and feel like the living frogs) for you to experience it hands on. You do not want to mess up with the real frogs. This red frog-head is my favorite among others. Isn’t that filled with “Aww!” 🙂
Measuring the frog’s snout-vent length with a Vernier’s Caliper
Measuring the frog’s snout-vent length with a Vernier’s Caliper

To meet like minded people- It is fun, interesting and wonderful to be in the company of people who can understand and discuss topics that you enjoy the most. Learning from each other’s experiences, getting to know their opinions and most of all discussing research topics that are absurd for many yet seem doable when discussed in depth! This is the power of beautiful people who worship nature, diversity in species and much more!

SAY CHEESE- for an incredible group picture!
SAY CHEESE- for an incredible group picture!

To add a whole new dimension to your research skills: Not only does this course teach you new concepts and new ideas on Ecology but it also teaches you how to apply the same to your data! We all have captured raw data and we do not know what to do with it or even how to make sense of it. So often, we are lost, not knowing which direction to take. It is at this juncture that you will remember the concepts taught to you here at Gubbi. Personally speaking- I am sure I will use the skills I have picked up here to convert the data I have collected into actual meaningful research. And get them published 😉

Look at the field, take a book, read it loud, google it, then google scholar it, collect data, analyze and write a paper! Wow, isn’t that quick?
Look at the field, take a book, read it loud, google it, then google scholar it, collect data, analyze and write a paper! Wow, isn’t that quick?
My certificate after the completion of the course. I’d call it- narcissism in the most subtle way!
My certificate after the completion of the course. I’d call it- narcissism in the most subtle way!

PS: A heart full of thanks to Dr Gururaja, Dr Sudhira, Mrs Ramya and Ms Vidisha for their contribution of photographs and other valuable information in this blog. This amazing experience definitely wouldn’t have happened without their loving support. Get in touch- Gubbi Labs

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