As someone who has always been vocal about the need to protect our planet, this Bollywood actor has the best recommendations for eco-tourism spots, and how to visit them responsibly
By Farzana Patowari
Dia Mirza has always been innately passionate about the environment, and so, the Bollywood actress’ love for an ecoconscious lifestyle comes as no surprise. “I came across this disturbing article about how tourism has gone up exponentially in a place like Ladakh, post-COVID. And, how that is creating such a huge strain on the infrastructure of the region, on the drainage system, the water resources, and waste management system. All of that is getting badly impacted. So, one thing, of course, is that you know, every state and region would want people to travel to them. But I think, we need to be equally responsible while on a vacation,” shares the 41-year-old actor and do-gooder.
The eco-warrior approaches travel with a certain sensitivity. “One of the things that I do before I travel is that I actually find out whether the place has an adequate waste management system. If they don’t then, I ensure that I don’t carry items which are not degradable. Secondly, being respectful to the culture and community of that area. Exploring the local cuisine and interacting with people, but also treating them with dignity and gratitude. These little things can contribute in a significant way,” she suggests. Understandably, as a practitioner of responsible travel, she has quite a few recommendations for places, where you can fuel your love for wanderlust without causing much harm to the planet. Here are a few eco-tourism spots worth visiting this year, as suggested by Mirza.
Pench National Park Deriving its name from the Pench River, this national park in Madhya Pradesh is a must-visit for all wildlife enthusiasts. “Pench happens to be special; it’s the first national park I visited. The walk trail in the jungle at the part where Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra connect is an unmissable highlight. I got to experience this beautiful topography with children and amazing forest guards. There’s so much to explore,” she states. Mirza Suggests: Enjoy a night of stargazing; check out the Runi Jhuni Nature Walking Trail; go for a cycling excursion in Rukhad; and visit the Potter’s Village in Pachdhar.
Ranthambore National Park Mirza gives her vote to Ranthambore National Park, but cautions travellers against the chaos that’s typical of its surroundings. “Right from its safety protocols to the infrastructure, everything is fantastic. But, now there are like 20 odd jeeps in there and people make so much noise. So, the peace and the tranquillity of the place is completely ruined by boisterous behaviour. Which ultimately destroys everyone’s experiences.” Mirza Suggests: Visit the grand Ranthambore Fort; spot birds at Surwal Lake; soak in some art at the Ranthambore School of Art; and experience the Rajiv Gandhi Regional Museum of Natural History.
Kaziranga National Park Located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam, Kaziranga is one of the most sought-after national parks in the country. Mirza echoes this when she says, “I have the most beautiful memories there as they have an incredible centre called the CWRC. The annual flooding in Assam affects these animals and the centre helps them rehabilitate. It is a must-visit and you get to see the incredible work that the forest department and the wildlife trust of India are doing,” she tells us. Mirza Suggests You: Treat your eyes at the Kaziranga National Orchid Park; witness the beauty of the Kakochang Waterfall; and take a stroll in the tea estate.
Dachigam National Park
On the east side of the Dal Lake in Jammu and Kashmir, lies Dachigam National Park, named after the ten villages that had to be relocated for its formation. Flanked by the Zabarwan Range of the western Himalayas, Mirza describes this place as ‘sheer magic’. “If you are fortunate enough to spot a Hangul, which is a Kashmiri stag, then it is poetry in motion,” she shares. Mirza Suggests: Take a trip to Srinagar, Sonmarg, Pahalgam, and Gulmarg, while there.
Panna National Park
Mirza spent last Christmas at a homestay in Toria near this national park, located in the Chhatarpur districts of Madhya Pradesh. It is run by a conservationist couple, who set up the idyllic spot at a cosy nook in the village. “They have a farm-to-table concept, where they eat what they grow. You get to interact with the locals, visit the villages and see what the community is doing. We spent time on a boat surrounded by magical scenery. There was so much to do in and around that space,” she recalls. Mirza Suggests: Enjoy the river flow on Ken River boating; take a look at the Raneh Falls; take a heritage walk at Khajuraho; check out Pandav Falls, which is another tributary of Ken River.
Reproduced with permission from Mansworldindia.com