Tourism-Concept, Resources and Development Adventure Tourism Part 6

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Adventure Tourism (Off-Beat Resorts)

Adventure sports open off-beat destinations and new avenues for the promotion of tourism. It covers activities such as trekking, skiing, river rafting, water games, mountaineering, rock climbing, hang gliding, para gliding, hiking, and camping in the habitats of wild life.

At present outdoor adventure travellers constitute only about 7% of the total tourist traffic. It can be increased for attracting the youth in the age groups of 25-35 years in large numbers. As a part of the tourist package, it will benefit by adding a week to an estimated average span of 28 days stay of foreign tourists.

Trekking: The term ‘trek’ once referred to long migrations of the Africans by ox carts and now means an arduous travel, walking or biking over long distances for recreation. It is fun-filled activity in some way just like a long-range patrolling carried out by the army.

Walking over the rugged and remote terrain having no other good means of transport consists of going up and down the hills, crossing passes, and coping with extremes of variable weather at high altitudes. In fact, walking is the oldest means of transport in human history. It is quite a low-cost adventure and requires no other equipment except good stamina, patience, and passion for observing nature.

While real adventure in trekking is in the high mountains, an easier one can be undertaken in low hills all over the country. Such trek routes are marked especially in areas like Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

The upper reaches of Kumaon-Garhwal Himalaya combine a number of long and short trekking routes for international trade and the pilgrimage to holy places in Tibet such as Kailash and Manasarovar.

Trekking Routes in Ladakh

Image of Trekking Routes in Ladakh

Trekking Routes in Ladakh

Mountaineering: The mountain landscapes and its high Himalayan peaks are not only attracting the foreigners but even Indian climbers. Nain Singh and Kishan Singh mentioned earlier were the first Indian mountaineers. Their history does not end with Tenzing Norgay, one of the Everest conquerors. A great number of our countrymen and women and the foreigners have been successful climbers with far less equipment. Bachendri Pal’s name stands high in the list of India’s heroic women mountaineers and high-altitude trekkers. As the time goes, Everest climbing has turned into a fully commercialized mountaineering activity.

A large number of parties from different countries get a prior booking from the Nepalese Government on payment of lakhs of rupees. It includes payment for the services of Sherpa guides. Also, it covers charges for transport and delivery of the equipment on the spot. Since it is the sole resource to exploit for earning a living, the activity sustains the Sherpa population concentrated at the base of the peak. It is also the greatest foreign exchange earner for the economy of Nepal. It reconfirms the economic value of mountaineering for India and also the need to conserve the natural beauty of our mountains.

High Himalayas in the northern half of Himachal Pradesh have many ranges of snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and deep valleys. There are nearly 150 peaks, one after every 20 km. On an average each peak is over 5400 meters high. For long it was considered a disrespect to go over the mountain summits. For this reason, many of them remain unnamed and unclimbed. Easy weather conditions from May to October and an expensive network of roads up to their bases compensates the technical difficulties requiring equipment and training. In Jammu and Kashmir, there are a series of mountain peaks in the Pir Panjal, Great Himalaya, Zanskar, Ladakh, and Karakoram ranges passing through the state. These are between 5000 and 7000 meters high. One can even look to the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Tibet (China) from their tops.

Uttaranchal Himalayas have an additional advantage of nearness from Delhi. The traditional source of the Ganga River, a few km above the Gaumukh’s ice cave, is considered one of the best mountaineering areas in the world. There is a congregation of a number of glaciers, high-altitude lakes, and the peaks. Eastwards, Sikkim Himalayas open a window to the traditions of its people by viewing chortens and prayer flags all along the mountain trails. The five areas in North Sikkim having high peaks and Khangchendzonga (Kanchenjunga) reaching the height of over 8000 metres, only two of these are open to mountain climbers so far because of crucial border with Tibet. The watching of the glaciated landscape and walking over them at heights over 3700 metres is no less attractive.

The beauty of the glaciers, ice caves, and the glacial lakes from which our rivers draw their perennial water supply cannot be conveyed through words. The Indian Mountaineering Institutes at Manali, Darjeeling, and Uttar Kashi and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation at Delhi help in organising and sponsoring the mountaineering expeditions. They arrange to broadcast special weather bulletins over the All India radio, provide information to the climbers, and coordinate with the Indian Air Force for rescue work during emergencies. Regulating the expeditions by disallowing too frequent and too many of them is required to protect the fragile environment in the high-altitude zone. Littering along the trails needs to be checked in days to come. There are wider opportunities for rock climbing even along the foothills of outer Himalaya, Sahyadri, and the Central Indian Hill ranges.

Winter Sport Resorts: Skiing is one of the most popular winter sports on the snowy slopes of the Himalaya. In Himalayan region of India, there is ice and the snow terrain available all the year round. The excitement of skiing can convince tourists that this country has something more to offer besides temples, monuments, fairs and the colourful festivals. Gulmarg at 2730 metres height is not just a hill resort but has the highest ski ground of India. This sport is the well-developed in country’s largest and best equipped resort. Snow lies thick enough from December to April and there are ski lifts, chair cars, and the ropeways. There are instructors providing 10-21 days, skiing and mountaineering courses. The ski mountaineering route reaches the alpine meadow of Khilanmarg, five km up at 3045 metres.

The Alpather lake lies only another eight km away at the base of Apharwat peak at 4135 metres height. Its slopes were studied to develop heliskiing. In January, 1988, it was started here in India- the first country in Asia to introduce the sport. The skier is dropped to the top of the ridge by helicopter from where the tourist can slide down. It saves the skier the difficult task of climbing up the terrain. The game was banned in France considering the noise of the helicopters disturbing the mountain fauna. In Canada, skiers are often trapped by the bad weather in tracts, far away from civilisation.

Kashmir has the advantage that its area is so large, valleys so vast that such problems are not expected. The project earns normally more than half a million dollars a year. The high cost of heliskiing restricts the game to richer tourists from Europe and North America.

In Himachal Pradesh, Narkanda amidst coniferous forest at 2,700 meters altitude overlooking Sutlej river is only 64 km north of Shimla along the Hindustan-Tibet National Highway. 6 to 10 meters thick snow lies from January to April all along the slopes from Hathu peak to Stokes’ famous apple lands at Kotgarh. Another place known as Kufri near Narkanda and Shimla is also taking off for this sport. The extensive slopes along Solang Nala close to Manali have fine weather favouring skiing both during winter and part of the summer seasons. In Garhwal Himalaya, a ski resort of Auli near Joshimath on way to Badrinath has been developed for this sport. The place affords a view of Nanda Devi summit and its adjoining area. A cable car largest in Asia connects Joshimath at about 2,000 meters height to the top slope of Kauri pass at 3,900 meters. But the lack of warm water during freezing cold in the morning, inefficient heating and medical facilities, and low quality of equipment like ski boots are the current handicaps at Auli.

There are good golf grounds at Gulmarg, the highest in the world, at Naldera near Shimla and in Nainital’s Raj Bhawan estate for promoting golf tourism as a promoting tourist industry. While skating sink on frozen ice has been developed within Shimla town and near Gulmarg, now surfing can be looked forward to in years to come.

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