The tourism industry is already bearing the brunt of Kedarnath catastrophe but Nainital and Mussoorie have turned out to be the silver lining. Keeping the popularity of Nainital in mind, the tourism department has decided to develop other tourist centres around Nainital. These sites are SaatTaal, Naukuchiatal and Mukteshwar. The department sees potential in these sites to become popular locations. The approximate cost of this project will be Rs 6 crore.
Saat Tal is unique for its biodiversity, unpolluted fresh water biomass. Many species of migratory birds flock to Saat Tal.
Abha Bhatt, deputy director of Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, said, "The tourism department has converted one inspection bungalow of Irrigation department into a tourist rest house. There are several other properties that belong to the department which are also being utilized for various other purposes. To boost eco-tourism, eco-huts made of log are being made. Tented accommodation is also being provided to enjoy the serenity of nature."
She said Saat Tal has been promoted as a site for bird watching. For this many locals have been encouraged to set up a high platform at locations where migratory birds can be sighted clearly. The tourism department also created such platforms and view points for the purpose. Bird watchers are emerging as a niche clientele.
Naukuchiatal, just 26 km away from Nainital, is considered one of the deepest rivers with 175 feet of depth. The lake in Naukuchiatal derives its name from the fact that it has nine corners. It has been promoted for water sports as well as angling. This area is being used to target tourists who may be interested in such adventure sports. "A beautiful heritage palatial building known as ‘Parichay’ which was once built by a naval engineer has been taken over and maintained by the tourism department. From its windows, the Naukuchiatal lake can be seen. It is a two floor building. Other than this, the tourism department has built five eco-huts while five more are under construction," Bhatt said.
The eco-huts, made of wood and log, give one the feeling of being in unison with the nature. Naukuchiatal is also being promoted as a destination for paragliding. "Tourists can enjoy adventure in the form of paragliding in the Naukuchiatal as many private paragliders are holding solo and double flights from the perfect environs of this site. They also provide training to the aspirants, "said RC Bhardwaj, head of adventure tourism wing of UTDB.
Mukteshwar, the third site, is situated 20 km from Naukuchiatal. Pilgrims come to offer prayer at a 350-year-old Shiva temple which has lent its name to the small hill town. "It is from the elevated height of 2285 metres above sea level that the spectacular views of the Himalayan range can be appreciated and canned in the camera. Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Mukteshwar has been of great interest for tourists for its grand architecture," Bhatt added
The winter festival, which take place from October to November, and the Dussehra festival celebrated by the Bengali community have been other fascinating features of Nainital. The tourism department has been active in educating tourists about its tourist destinations through the information centre on Kathgodam railway station.
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