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Top Eco-Friendly Places to Visit in India in 2023

This article will help you discover India's most environmentally conscious destinations, namely Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Orissa, and Assam. We’ll also share some tips to help you become an eco-friendly traveller. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the top eco-friendly places to visit in India in 2023.

  • 20 Apr 2023
  • 5 min read

Are you looking to travel and explore India’s stunning landscape while minimising your carbon footprint? Look no further than eco-tourism! This buzzword has been gaining prominence in India, and for a good reason. With a diverse landscape that ranges from the snow-capped Himalayas to the tropical beaches of the south, there is no shortage of destinations to explore.

This article will help you discover India's most environmentally conscious destinations, namely Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Meghalaya, West Bengal, Orissa, and Assam. We’ll also share some tips to help you become an eco-friendly traveller. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the top eco-friendly places to visit in India in 2023.

What is Eco-tourism?

Wondering what is eco tourism?

Eco-tourism is sustainable tourism that minimises tourism's negative environmental impact while supporting the local economy and promoting conservation efforts. One can identify this type of tourism by small group sizes, low-impact accommodation, and knowledgeable guides who share information about the area's environment and culture.

This approach helps visitors develop an appreciation for the importance of conservation and biodiversity. By choosing eco-tourism, we can minimise the negative impacts of tourism and help preserve the beauty of our planet for future generations. Whether you're an avid adventurer or simply seeking a relaxing getaway, eco-tourism offers a chance to make a positive impact while enjoying all our world has to offer.  

How Eco-tourism Helps Reduce Ecological Effect of Tourism

Eco-tourism is a form of responsible travel that focuses on preserving and protecting the environment and culture of a destination. It helps reduce the ecological impact of tourism in several ways. It raises awareness about environmental issues such as waste reduction, wildlife protection, and energy conservation and encourages tourists to adopt responsible behaviour. Eco-tourism also promotes the use of environment-friendly transportation modes and sustainable accommodation. Also, eco-friendly tourism aids conservation efforts by funding environmental research, habitat restoration, and wildlife protection initiatives. Hence, ecotours can minimise the negative impact of tourism on the environment by promoting responsible tourism practices and supporting conservation efforts, thereby promoting the sustainable development of local communities.

Top Eco Friendly Destinations in India

  • India’s rich history and diverse cultural heritage make it an attractive ecotourism destination. Be it the majestic Himalayas or the serene backwaters of Kerala, there is a multitude of travel options to choose from in terms of cultural experiences in India. Adventure tourism is equally appealing to tourists.
  • With the rising awareness of the impact of travel on the environment, there has been increasing awareness of eco-friendly tourism.
  • Travellers are becoming increasingly conscious and looking for tourism opportunities that are sustainable, responsible, and in harmony with nature. Several major tourist destinations have started promoting sustainable tourism practices and offering unique experiences that blend conservation with recreation.
  • The Indian government has promoted eco-friendly tourism and sustainable travel, including implementing ecotourism policies and guidelines like the “National Strategy for Ecotourism 2022”.

Some popular ecotourism destinations in India include:

1. Sikkim

Sikkim is an eco-friendly destination with breathtaking natural beauty and rich cultural heritage:

  • Sikkim is India’s first and only fully organic state, with a commitment to sustainable agriculture and tourism.
  • The state has established several protected areas, including the Khangchendzonga National Park and Biosphere Reserve, the Singba Rhodendron Sanctuary, the Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, the Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, to preserve its unique flora and fauna.
  • Sikkim has a diverse range of ecotourism activities, including trekking, birdwatching, and nature walks.
  • Major tourist destinations in Sikkim include Gangtok, the capital city with stunning views of the Himalayas, and the Yumthang Valley, known for its hot springs and rhododendron forests.
  • Other popular destinations include the Tsomgo Lake, a glacial lake surrounded by snow-capped mountains, and the Nathu La Pass, a historic trade route between India and Tibet.
  • Visitors to Sikkim can experience the state’s unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage while contributing to sustainable tourism practices.

Also read:

2. Himachal Pradesh

Himachal Pradesh is an eco-friendly destination that boasts scenic beauty and stunning landscapes. The state is a perfect amalgamation of culture, adventure, and nature. Major tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh that are eco-friendly are listed below.

  • The state is home to several prominent tourist destinations, including Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala, and Dalhousie, each offering a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
  • Himachal Pradesh has several national parks, including the Great Himalayan National Park, Pin Valley National Park, and Khirganga National Park, home to rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
  • Great Himalayan National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its rich biodiversity and stunning landscape, while Pin Valley National Park is famous for its snow leopards and Tibetan antelopes.

Himachal Pradesh also has several trekking trails and adventure activities such as river rafting, skiing, and paragliding, attracting adventure enthusiasts.

3. Kerala

Kerala is a popular eco-friendly tourism destination due to its lush green forests, serene backwaters, and diverse wildlife.

  • The state has numerous national parks and wildlife sanctuaries that offer opportunities to spot rare and endangered species of animals and birds, such as tigers, elephants, and the Great Indian Hornbill.
  • The Periyar National Park in Thekkady is a popular destination for eco-tourists, where visitors can take part in activities such as bamboo rafting, trekking, and birdwatching.
  • The Silent Valley National Park is known for its diverse flora and fauna, including many species of rare plants and animals.
  • The backwaters of Kerala are also a major attraction for eco-tourists, with opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and boat rides, all of which provide an up-close look at the local ecosystem.
  • Thenmala, located in Kerala, is India's first eco tourism centre known for producing high-quality honey. It offers boating, trekking, rock climbing, and huts for forest stays, making it a popular tourist spot in Kerala.

4. Nagaland

Nagaland, a state in northeast India, offers a unique eco-friendly tourism experience with its diverse flora and fauna, national parks, and conservation projects. Here are some highlights of Nagaland’s ecotours offerings:

  • The state has several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, including Intanki, Fakim, and Puliebadze Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Nagaland has several conservation projects, like the Amur Falcon Conservation Project and the Dzukou Valley Protection Project, to protect and preserve the region’s natural resources.
  • Khonoma Village is a major tourist destination known for being India’s first green village, where the Angami tribe values preserving trees and cleanliness. The Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary aim to protect the endangered Blyth’s Tragopan species. Tourists can participate in activities like trekking and camping.
  • The picturesque Dzukou Valley is another popular ecotourism attraction known for its trekking trails.

Nagaland’s Hornbill Festival in December is a popular ecotourism attraction promoting the state’s cultural heritage and conservation efforts.

5. Meghalaya

Meghalaya is an eco-friendly state in northeast India that is gaining popularity as a tourist destination.

  • Mawlynnong Village is India’s best eco tourism destination, with clean streets, traditional Khasi architecture, and lush greenery.
  • Cherrapunji is one of the wettest places on Earth and is known for its waterfalls, living root bridges, and stunning hill views.
  • Shillong, the state capital, is famous for its picturesque scenery, colonial-era architecture, and vibrant music scene.
  • Nongkhnum Island is Meghalaya’s largest river island and a popular spot for adventure activities such as kayaking, trekking, and camping.
  • Balpakram National Park offers a diverse range of rare flora and fauna, including barking deer, clouded leopards, and golden cats.

Meghalaya’s eco-friendly tourism initiatives and stunning natural and cultural attractions make it an ideal destination for travellers seeking an authentic and sustainable travel experience.

6. West Bengal

West Bengal is a popular eco-friendly destination in India with natural beauty and wildlife. Major tourist destinations for eco friendly tourism in West Bengal are:

  • Sunderbans: UNESCO World Heritage Site with Royal Bengal Tigers, saltwater crocodiles, and over 250 bird species.
  • Jaldapara National Park: Home to Indian one-horned rhinoceroses, Asiatic elephants, and several species of deer.
  • Neora Valley National Park: Known for its diverse flora and fauna, including the red panda.
  • Darjeeling: Famous for tea plantations and nature trails like the Singalila Ridge Trek and the Sandakphu Trek.
  • Kalimpong: A serene hill town offering ecotourism activities like birdwatching and nature walks.
  • Buxa Tiger Reserve: Home to Royal Bengal tigers, clouded leopards, and several species of birds.
  • Gorumara National Park: Known for its elephant population and several species of deer, birds, and reptiles.

The state government promotes ecotourism destinations like Bishnupur, Murshidabad, Malda, Krishnagar, Nabadwip, and Birbhum to showcase the rich heritage and history of Bengal. Sabujdwip, the river banks of the Teesta, Hooghly, and the Ganges offer local and cultural experiences and are ecotourism destinations.

7. Orissa

  • Orissa has 5 national parks, 18 wildlife sanctuaries, and numerous other protected areas that are home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.
  • The state government has taken significant steps to promote eco tourism in the region by establishing eco-retreats, nature camps, and sustainable tourism projects. The destinations for these eco-retreats include Deomali and Kotia in Koraput, Silviculture in Phulbani, Mahendragiri in Behrampur, and Hadagarh Dam in Keonjhar. Some renowned nature camps are Rani Duduma in Koraput and Bhandarpahar in Nayagarh.
  • Some popular ecotourism destinations in Orissa include the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Chilika Lake, Simlipal National Park, Satkosia Gorge, and Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • These sites offer a variety of activities, such as birdwatching, jungle safaris, boat rides, trekking, and camping.
  • Orissa’s ecotourism sites also provide opportunities to learn about local culture and traditions through interactions with tribal communities and visits to traditional handicraft villages.

8. Assam

Assam is known for its natural beauty and varied flora and fauna. Some major ecotours destinations in Assam are:

• Kaziranga National Park:

Home to the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, Kaziranga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

• Manas National Park:

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Manas is known for its unique biodiversity, including tigers, elephants, and pygmy hogs.

• Majuli Island:

The world’s largest river island, Majuli is a hub of Assamese culture, home to numerous ancient temples, and a popular spot for birdwatching.

• Haflong:

Known as the “Switzerland of the East,” Haflong is a hill station surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and tea gardens.

• Guwahati:

Assam’s largest city and gateway to the state, Guwahati, is home to the famous Kamakhya Temple, the Brahmaputra River, and the Assam State Zoo.

  • Assam’s eco-friendly tourism includes river cruises on the Brahmaputra, tea garden tours, and visits to tribal villages to experience their unique customs and traditions.

Tips to be an Eco-friendly Traveller

Being an eco-friendly traveller means travelling in a way that supports sustainable tourism and minimises the environmental impact. Here are some tips:

  • Choose eco-friendly destinations such as Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, and Kerala that offer eco-friendly accommodations.
  • Opt for sustainable transportation options such as cycling, walking, or public transport instead of hiring private vehicles.
  • Reduce plastic usage by being mindful of your waste disposal and carrying a reusable water bottle, cloth bag, and metal straw.
  • To reduce the carbon footprint caused by the transportation of food, choose to eat at restaurants that serve organic and locally grown food.
  • Respect the local culture and follow the principles of “leave no trace” to avoid damaging flora and fauna.

Support local conservation initiatives and volunteer for eco-friendly activities such as beach clean-ups, wildlife conservation, and plantation drives.

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