Today, 5 June, is celebrated as World Environment Day. It is a day to celebrate the wonders of nature and to commit to do our part, no matter how small, to safeguard it and keep it safe. We live in a time where people question the need for protecting the environment. And it is true to some extent; we need to protect the environment for ourselves and our future generations, and to survive. Because between man and nature, man will always lose in the end. To celebrate the indomitable spirit of nature and the incredible natural beauty that abounds in this country, here are the 10 best eco-friendly holiday destinations in India to explore. ALSO READ: These eco-friendly hotels will take you close to nature like never before
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The smallest hill station in India, Matheran, lies in the Western Ghats a little northeast of Mumbai. The central Ministry of Environment and Forest calls this place an eco-sensitive region, and cars and vehicles are not allowed here because of this. As a result, the place is untouched by the effect of automobiles. The air is fresh and clear, and despite the lack of vehicles it is pretty easy to reach and explore the little hill station. Matheran lies just around 44 km from Mumbai, and can be reached easily by rail or road. Also Read - 7 Best Things To Do When in Coorg- The Scotland of India
Houseboat in Alleppey
Kerala is actually a pioneer in India for its eco-tourism initiatives, and the famous backwaters of Alappuzha are a perfect example of that. The city of Alappuzha, still known as Alleppey in local circles, lies beside the beautiful Laccadive Sea and has an expansive network of backwater canals and waterways. Rustic-looking houseboats with modern amenities lazily float along the backwaters. Book one of these houseboats and sit back and enjoy the calm waters that reflect the greenery around you, and enjoy the delicious fish and toddy served. Houseboats aside, Alleppey is perfect for foodies and nature lovers. Also Read - Meet Major Ralengnao Bob Khathing, The Man Who Got Tawang To India
Another hill station, Coorg lies in Karnataka and is an ecologically rich destination, with waterfalls, rivers, and dense forests filled with teak, sandalwood, bamboo and rosewood trees. Coorg is situated around 900-1,800 meters above sea level, and is home to several coffee and spice plantations that add a certain distinct aroma in the air. It is famous as a hill station getaway and an eco-friendly destination, especially with its close proximity to three major wildlife sanctuaries (Pushpagiri, Talakaveri and Brahmagiri) and the Nagarhole National Park. Coorg is also host to several adventure activities, like rock climbing, river rafting and trekking.
Havelock, Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Radhanagar Beach in Havelock
One of the most famous of the 12 inhabited islands of Andaman and Nicobar, Havelock is home to one of the best beaches in the world. Havelock has gained fame in recent years for its beautiful, pristine beaches and exquisite dive sites, with untouched coral reefs and clear blue waters. Elephant Beach is a popular destination, and Radhanagar Beach is considered the most beautiful beach in the country. Then there is the Vijaynagar Beach on the other side. Beaches aside, Havelock is home to several endemic bird and animal species residing in its lush green rain forest.
Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu
Lying in the middle of the Gundar and Parappar valleys, along the Palani hills, is Kodaikanal, one of the highest and most famous hill stations in Tamil Nadu. Kodaikanal lies around 2,130 meters above sea level and rose to prominence thanks to the patronage of the British centuries ago. But its natural beauty still manages to take the breath away. It is surrounded by dense rain forests and grasslands, with streams that cut through the valleys, making their way down to the plains and forming waterfalls along the way. Nearby Palani Wildlife Sanctuary is where you want to go to experience Kodaikanal’s natural beauty in its rawest form.
Chilika lake, Photograph: Amit Rawat/Creative Commons
Located partially within the famous Puri district of Odisha, Chilika Lake is the second-largest coastal water lagoon in the world and the largest in India. Chilika Lake and its surrounding region covers more than 3,000 square kilometers. The lake itself is home to a rich variety of wildlife, from the rare and critically endangered Irrawady dolphins to the Spoon-billed sandpiper, green sea turtle, fishing cat and blackbuck. Birds found here include storks, black-headed Ibis, egrets, purple herons and spoonbills. Some rare birds here include the spot-billed pelican, dalmatian pelican and Asiatic Dowitcher. Nature lovers, bird lovers and wildlife photographers consider the lake and its ecosystem a paradise. ALSO READ: 10 most stunning lakes in India
Located among dense evergreen forests, Thenmala in Kerala is actually the state’s first planned ecotourism destination, and so deserves a special place in this list. The place is split into three zones. There is the Adventure Zone, where you can engage in fun activities like rock climbing, outdoor biking, rappelling and trekking. The Leisure Zone let’s you forget about the rush of adventure activities and just enjoy nature at your own pace, walking up to the dam. The Culture Zone is where you get to indulge in the famous cuisine of the state. Night camping, forest trails and tree house accommodation are offered for a complete experience in the lap of nature.
Naggar, Himachal Pradesh
Located in the Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh around 2,050 meters above sea level, the settlement of Naggar was once the capital of the historic Kullu kingdom. Today, Naggar is a relatively secluded and sleepy little village that lies just a short drive away from the more hectic and commercial Manali. The place is perfect for staying a few days away from the rush of tourists, close to some great trekking trails and with an incredible view. The Chandrakani Pass trail to Malana in Parvati Valley, for instance, lies nearby. And the rustic little village has some great restaurants and guesthouses to offer too.
Galgibaga Beach, Goa
Goa is not what you would consider an eco-friendly destination; it is known for its beaches, booze, cuisine and parties, most of all. But the state has its share of natural gems hidden away from the impact of modern tourism. The secluded Galgibaga Beach, for instance, remains less visited than Goa’s other beautiful beaches even during peak season, despite its proximity to Palolem. As such, the beach is clean and is a nesting ground for the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. In the winters, the eggs laid in the beach hatch, and you can see several tiny little turtles make the dangerous journey from the beach to the ocean.
Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh
Located around 3,500 meters above sea level, Tawang is a relatively small mountain town in Arunachal Pradesh, tucked away from the more commercial parts of the state. Historically a part of Tibet, Tawang has a rich Tibetan Buddhist culture, symbolized by the majestic Tawang Monastery. Bordered by Tibet and Bhutan in the North and Southwest, and the Sela range in the East, Tawang enjoys a cool climate throughout the year and is rich in natural and cultural beauty. Its glacial lakes with crystal blue waters are famous for their beauty, like the Banggachang Lake, Sela Lake and Sangetser Lake. The Chong Chugmi and Gudpi ranges, Tawang Valley and Tawang Chu River add to the scenic beauty of this mountain town. NOW READ: Why you must not miss visiting Tawang this summer
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