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Eco Tourism The Greens, Himachal Pradesh Eco Tourism first came into existence in the early 1980s

and since then it has started to develop pretty well around the world. Eco tourism or ecological tourism is a multi faceted term. Ecology here refers not only to the environment, or the wildlife and forest reserves, but it also has social connotations to it. Ecological tourism is "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people" (by international eco tourism society). Accordingly, an important aspect of eco tourism is also safeguarding nature, which locals and tourists both have to ensure. Eco tourism is a relatively new term and concept and has been acknowledged in India off late only. Himachal Pradesh is one such beautiful state in India where eco tourism is developing in its pure form. Himachal Pradesh is undoubtedly blessed with everything that makes it a first choice of eco tourists. Moreover, the state has also developed many facilities for eco tourist. There are 400 forest bungalows at vantage points, dedicated nature trails have been framed and trained guides and porters are available too. Eco Tourism Attractions The Greens Nature comes alive in its every possible form here. Green forests spreading over miles of hilly terrains. Oaks, maples, birdcherry, hazelnut, walnuts and many other beautiful trees lend Himachal a beauty that is beyond words. There are 3240 species of plants in the state. National Parks in Himachal Pradesh are a perfect place for eco tourists. Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu is one of the prime protected lands and is a perfect place to enjoy nature at its best. Himalayan Nature Park near Shimla has over 100 hectares of Western Himalayan temperate forests that are rich with floral varieties. Another famous spot in Himachal is Potter's Hill Van Vihar. It covers around 100 hectares of Western Himalayan temperature forest that are rich with floral diversity. These are just few of the many places in Himachal Pradesh where one can enjoy the oneness with nature. Sangla valley and Chamba valley are such other places. The Wildlife Wildlife in Himachal Pradesh is another big draw in its ecotourism chart. Its different types of terrain, pleasant climate and vegetation are very suitable for wildlife to sustain, survive and flourish. Snow leopards, Himalayan brown beer, Ibex, Yak, the beautiful manal bird and Western tragopan, Musk Deer and many more. Himachal Pradesh has 32 wildlife sanctuaries with 64 species of mammals, 43 reptiles and 516 varieties of aquatic fauna. The facts speak volumes about the richness of state in

terms of its wildlife reserves. Renuka wildlife sanctuary, Churdhar sanctuary, both in Sirmour, Chail Sanctuary in Solan are some of the more popular names with tourists. Maharana Pratap Sagar is the state's famous wetland and is angler's delight.

The Tribes Another crucial link in eco tourism are the local people who help preserve the nature trails. The tribals in Himachal Pradesh are a major component of eco-tourism. The entire areas of Lahaul, Spiti and Kinnaur near Ladakh and Tibet were once full of different tribal groups. However, over a period of time, the tribal population of the state has decreased since more and more tribals have migrated to other places and have risen enough to support separate families. A prominent tribe of Himachal are the Shephards (known as Gaddis here) who rear goats and sheep and keep moving with them to higher pastures in summers and lower, more warmer regions in winters.

Another prominent tribal group is that of Kinnars inhabiting the district of Kinnaur. Some of them are engaged in horticulture and agriculture. They also rear goat and sheep for wool. Their marriage customs are very interesting. All the brothers in the family share one wife, however this tradition is changing slowly. Like Kinners, there is also another tribal group called Lahule, mainly so since they live in Lahaul area. They are an intermixed tribe. They are racially intermixed tribe with Tibetans. Very colourful people in terms of dresses and ornaments, their valley comes on the trade route to Ladakh and Sinkrang.

Kullu Tourism

Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh Kullu (1220m) was once known as Kulanthpitha - `the end of the habitable world`. Beyond rose the forbidding heights of the Greater Himalayas, and by the banks of the shining river Beas, lay the fabled `Silver Valley`.

Kullu got its first motorable access only after Independence. The long centuries of seclusion have however allowed the area to retain a considerable measure of its traditional charm. Here is the core of an intricate web of numerous valleys - each of which is a visual delight and seems more beautiful than the other. The `Silver Valley` has nature`s treasures that lie carelessly scattered as flowers on the high meadows. This wealth nestles by every tree in the splendid forests, it bursts forth in the blooms and in the fruit of every orchard. Here are riches which cannot be measured and echo down the ages with the words of every myth and ancient legend and glow in the warm smiles of its gentle people. There is pleasure in every step you

take in these enchanted valleys and in every gurgle you hear in the clear mountain streams

Kullu Attractions Raghunath Temple In the 17th century, Raja Jagat Singh of Kullu committed a great wrong. To atone for the sin, he sent a senior courtier to Ayodhya for a statue of Lord Raghunath - Lord Rama. This temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh to house the image and even today, is greatly revered. Raison By the banks of the Beas -and on the Kullu-Manali highway - Himachal Tourism runs a camping site here. Ideal for a taste of adventure. Shoja At 2692 m, this is a vantage point for a complete panorama of the Kullu area - snow peaks and valleys, meadows and forests, rivers and streams. Basheshwar Mahadev Temple, Bajaura One of the most charming temples in the Kullu valley, this is renowned for its intricate stone carvings Kasol An open glade by the banks of the river Parvati. Clean white sand separates the lush green grass from the waters. A good spot for trout. Himachal Tourism has a Tourist Hut here. Naggar For 1400 years this was the capital of Kullu. Its 16th century stone and wood castle is now a hotel run by Himachal Tourism. Here, a gallery houses the paintings of the Russian artist, Nicholas Roerich. Naggar also has three other old shrines. Other Attractions Kullu Dussehra When Dussehra celebrations come to an end in the rest of the country, they begin at Kullu. Over 600 local deities come to pay homage to Lord Raghunath. This is a time when the valley is at its colourful best. Fishing and Adventure

The Kullu valley has numerous places for trout fishing. These include Katrain, Raison, Kasol and Naggar, then along the river Tirthan near Larji, in the Sainj Valley and in the Hurla khud. The valley is the nucleus of several trek routes. Some major ones are over the Chanderkhani Pass to Malana, over the Jalori Pass or Bashleo Pass to Shimla, and over the Pin Parvati Pass to Sarahan. The river Beas offers excellent opportunities for white water rafting.

Shopping Shawls, local tweeds, rugs (`namdas`), foot wear (`pullan`), baskets, natural oils (almond and olive), caps. Getting There By Air The airport at Bhuntar is 10 km from Kullu, where taxis and buses are available. By Road By road, the distance from Delhi via Mandi is 530 km and from Shimla this is 240 km. From Delhi and Shimla, luxury buses ply to Kullu. By Rail The closest narrow guage railhead is at Joginder Nagar, 95 km from Kullu.