Elephants have always been poster boys for Kerala tourism. In a novel attempt to lure foreign tourists and elephant lovers, the Kerala forest department officials have come up with a hard to resist package.
Two persons can spend a day with an elephant at the Konni Eco-Tourism Centre for INR 2,000. Those who avail the package will get an irresistible deal including a rare chance to feed or bathe the elephant apart from enjoying a safari.
The tourists can visit the elephant camp and can even try their hands in giving these gentle giants a thorough scrub and wash at the bathing ghat in the Achenkovil River. The tourists can also take home a few photographs to keep these priceless moments fresh all their life time. There are currently five elephants at the Konni elephant camp where the tourists can spend around six hours with the elephant. The revenue will be utilized for the maintenance of the camp.
Spread over 7 acres, the Konni Eco-Tourism Centre has many facilities including audio-visual library, elephant museum, restaurant and a children’s park.The third phase of the development of the Konni Eco-Tourism Project at a project cost of over 45 lakh is in the pipeline. The projects in this phase include landscaping work in the elephant camp and improvement of the elephant museum.
So in case you are planning a special gift for someone special think beyond the run of the mill gift ideas and plan a day out with the jumbos. It will surely be something priceless not just for the recipient but also for those who gift it!
Kerala is bestowed with a long sea coast that virtually extends all along the State and a meandering network of backwaters, canals and rivers, which makes it a perfect destination for water tourism and leisure activities.
Kerala has asked The National Institute of Water Sports (NIWS) in Goa to chart out a detailed project report. Once the policy clearances are obtained , water sports and other leisure activities will be taken up in a phased manner. Kerala holds an enviable position for a range of water sporting options like windsurfing, kayaking and canoeing. The ethnic water activities of Kerala including house boat cruise and snake boat racing could also be included in the activity list to ensure a diverse fare. The main objective of this plan would be to promote new water sporting destinations apart from the popular spots like in Kerala like Punnamada, Ashtamudi, Kumarakom and Bakel.
Apart from enhancing the tourism potential of the State, weather sporting events would also ensure the protection of water bodies in the State, which are facing a high risk from the spiraling commercial and developmental activities in the State, which has taken a heavy toll over its natural resources.
With the power black outs throwing the lives of the hapless citizens of Kerala haywire, the government and the planning gurus have come up with a few innovative measures. Now the focus has clearly shifted to the promotion of non conventional energy sources in Kerala, which depends exclusively on the monsoons for power generation.
As the power crisis is looming high, Kerala has taken the much appreciated initiatives to exploit the potential of solar energy. Within a time frame of four years the government plans to set up two lakh roof top solar panels in house holds. Thirty percent subsidy will be provided by the centre to the consumers while a subsidy of 39000 will be borne by the state government. KSEB has also come up with many innovative ideas like coining catchy slogans on the significance of saving power by going for a ‘ringback advertising’ to send its message across to the 1.03 crore KSEB consumers every time they dial their neighbourhood KSEB section office.
The ringback tone initiative is one of the measures being implemented as part of the ‘Demand Side Management’ (DSM) measures of the KSEB to curb power consumption ahead of the peak summer days ahead. The government is also mooting a series of steps to reduce transmission loss including laying underground power cables.
Being responsible citizens , we too can pitch in our mite to make Kerala self sufficient in power by installing solar panels and by exercising self restraint in using power.Hopefully these innovative measures might bring relief to the millions of Keralites who are forced to adjust their sleeping patterns and social life as per the KSEB load shedding hours, in the coming days!
Kerala will be focusing on ayurveda and the biodiversity hot spot of Western Ghats in its ongoing tourism campaign. The basic aim would be to generate a world wide interest in the ancient Indian medical system. Kerala is regarded as the birth place of Ayurveda and the rich biodiversity in the Western Ghats has been the biggest advantage for this tiny state of Kerala.
Home to over 900 species of Ayurvedic herbs, the chain of mountains that comprise the Western Ghats runs through its eastern sector from hills of Wayanad in North Kerala to the southern Sahyadri peak. A treasure trove of rare medicinal herbs, the Western Ghats have always evoked interest among botanists . The ‘Agasthyakoodam’ peak near Trivandrum believed to be the abode of Sage Agasthya of Indian mythology, is home to some of the rarest medicinal herbs.
One of the eight biodiversity hot spots in the world, the Western Ghats has become a happening theme in Kerala Tourism’s campaign. This tourism season, Kerala will be banking heavily on ayurveda and has come up with many an innovative plans to provide world-class Ayurveda facilities and services for visitors factoring in the biodiversity hot spot Western Ghats.
The Tourism Department has classified ayurvedic institutions as ‘Green Leaf’ and ‘Olive Leaf’ and these ‘Kerala Tourism approved Ayurvedic Centres will ensure authentic ayurvedic rejuvenation programmes. Kerala received 94 lakh domestic visitors last year, while number of foreign tourists stood at eight lakh. A majority of tourists from Germany, the Middle East and Australia cited Ayurveda as one of the most compelling reasons for them to make a trip to Kerala.
Ayurveda of Kerala is typically wellness oriented and many people opt for it for rejuvenation and relaxation and not just for curing physical ailments and it is this wellness element in ayurveda that Kerala will be aiming to exploit in drawing more tourists to this beautiful southern State of India.
Facebook has changed the way we live and think and this buzzing social medium has been used effectively for creating awareness on many issues plaguing the society. Now the Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU) of the Department of Water Resources in Kerala has decided to make use of Facebook in making Kerala a water-friendly society.
A Facebook page ‘Hai Jalam’ has been opened to the public, which will highlight the importance of water conservation. A water droplet on a leaf with the message ‘We should know the significance of water’ forms the cover picture of the profile of this page. Apart from providing water saving tips to the public, it will also share information on rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge models. There is also a blog section in the page. This page is expected to enhance people’s initiatives in water conservation efforts and hopes to create a society that respects water to make sure that every person has access to clean potable water in the days ahead.
Within just two days of its launch, 98 people have already become friends with ‘Hai Jalam and the CCDU team is hoping that at least one lakh people will join. The prime target of this FB page is school students, where they can discuss water conservation ideas and share tips. CCDU also has launched an ambitious scheme to set up Jalashree’ clubs in schools across the state over the next three years to make sure that the future generation is aware of the importance of the conservation of water bodies to sustain all forms of life on planet earth.
The Kerala youth who have become more beauty conscious than their predecessors in their attempt to enhance complexion shun sunlight more then ever before. This in turn has set off a series of life style related disorders caused by the deficiency of Vitamin D, which is activated only with the exposure of sunlight.
The modern life styles that require people to remain confined in offices , flats or indoor gyms have been responsible for this alarming situation. According to a latest report over 90 percent of the population in Kerala suffers from Vitamin D deficiency, which is more common in the affluent class and in someplaces in North Kerala where women cover their bodies in full length gowns.
Deficiency of a balanced diet and low exposure to sunlight coupled with overprotective clothing have all resulted in Vitamin deficiency that can lead to various disease conditions like osteomalacia and hypocalcemia, cancer, tuberculosis and heart ailments. The required level of Vitamin D in a healthy adult should be 30-60 nanogram per millilitre where as a Keralite has only 19.4 ng/ml.
So next time when you fuss over the tan caused by the sun rays beating on you, remember that you will be missing out on the beneficial aspects of the sunshine vitamin by shutting out these natural rays.
The sleepy island of Valiaparamb in Kasargod district in North Kerala would have got cut off from the mainland but for the determination and grit of a handful of women. When the boatmen of the island decided to strike work citing the reason of fuel shortage to operate the boats, the women took up the challenge by taking the oars of the boat that they launched. The 24 km long Valiaparamb island is accessible only by ferry services along the Kovvai lake, which connects two other islands.
Though the water transport authorities are operating two boats, these are insufficient to cater to the travel needs of the islanders. When this issue was taken up for discussion at the Kudumbashree, a few illustrious women stepped into the scene and decided to throw in their oars into the waters literally. Instead of depending on someone to provide boat services, three enterprising women in their sixties decided to rent a boat and launch their own service which is available from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm every day. These women take scores of men , women and children across the waters to the other shores, everyday. A team of 15 workers from the self help group of Kudumbasree is now operating the service, which has become the life line of the islanders who have to travel to the mainland to eke out a living.
The district administration has made registration compulsory for all the houseboats in Alappuzha and the house boat owners have been given a time of one week for submitting the necessary documents in this regard. The Ports Department will be conducting routine inspections and the houseboats without the necessary certificates will be seized by the police and criminal cases slapped against these house boat owners.Three police patrol teams have been set up at various locations like Muhamma, Punnamada and Pallathuruthy in Vembanad Lake to conduct routine inspections inside the houseboats during cruise.
Though there are over 800 boats plying in Alappuzha backwaters only around 490 boats have registration certificates at present. In the wake of accidents involving houseboats, steps have also been initiated to revoke the license of the houseboat and the crew and to blacklist them if they are found to consume liquor on board during duty time. The Ports Department is also planning to set up a sewage treatment plant for the houseboats to prevent water pollution.
Houseboats are the biggest attractions in any Kerala holiday itinerary and by ensuring a safe and enjoyable cruise, back water tourism in Kerala will indeed get a major boost. These safety measures will indeed make Alappuzha and Kumarakom backwaters which form the nerve centres of backwater tourism more popular than never before among the tourists.
The UNESCO has listed a total of 39 heritage spots all along the Western Ghats, of which Kerala takes credit to as many as 20 UNESCO heritage destinations, making Kerala an important eco sensitive destination. The decision to include the Western Ghats among the world heritage sites was taken in the World heritage meeting that was held on Jul 1st in St Petersburg.
Some of the destinations featured in this important heritage list include the forests that are spread along Chinnar, Thekkady, Chinnar, Eravikulam, Silent Valley, Attapadi, Pulmedu, Manavan chola, Pushpagiri and Kaalikavu. The report underscores the preservation of these eco sensitive spots.
Not many of us know that the Western Ghats that extends over 1600 Km is more ancient and bio diverse than the Himalayas. It is home to 5000 types of rare plants and over 140 mammals, 16 of which are seen only in this part in the whole world including the lion tailed macaques and the Nilgiri Tahr. Of the 179 types of reptiles seen here, 138 varieties are exclusive to the Western Ghats. There is a diverse avian population too in this region, many of which are facing the danger of extinction. Pollution, commercial activities , mining and deforestation are some of the reasons for the degradation of these fragile eco zones.
The heritage enlistment of the Western Ghats, will help in preventing the mining activities , which are now rampant in many places within the Western Ghats in Goa and Karnataka. It is our duty to protect these ancient natural wonders as we have only borrowed it from our forefathers to hand it over the future generations. Let us do our bit for the safe keep of these pristine spots , which are god given gifts for Kerala, the God’s own country’, which will go a long way in boosting the tourism potential too.
Kerala might initiate microchipping the sandal trees in the natural sandal wood forests at Marayur- the only one of its type in the State. The Forest Minister KB Ganesh Kumar informed the state assembly of the innovative plans that are being formulated to insert microchips in sandalwood trees at Marayur, to prevent wide spread plunder of these priceless trees.
Marayur is 42 km north of Munnar along the Udumalppetta route. Spreading over an area of 93 sq. km, the Marayur reserve forest is home to over 60,000 naturally grown sandalwood trees. Rampant smuggling of sandalwood has always been a cause of serious concern for the Government and the forest department. It is alarming to note that in just one year nearly 2,000 trees have been allegedly plundered. The thieves use state of the art mechanical saws, which can fell a tree in no time without being noticed, which has turned out to be the biggest challenge for the forest department officials in curbing the menace.
Sandalwood or Santalum album is valued for its fragrant heartwood, which is used for making perfumes, agarbathis, ayurvedic medicines and beauty products. Sandalwood oil, popularly known as ‘liquid gold’, is extracted from the roots and wood of sandalwood. Sandalwood is highly priced in both the National and International market.
Though microchipping wild animals have been used successfully in tracking their movements, it is too early to predict the feasibility of the idea of inserting chips in sandalwood trees. According to RRR Varma, principal chief conservator of forests, the basic idea is to use microchips to track the movement of the trees. In the event of any unusual movement of the trees, an alert will be sent to the control station, which will enable the forest guards to reach the spot immediately.