How Nalsarovar in Gujarat is set for big facelift

  • Kunvarji Realty
  • 01/02/2024

How Nalsarovar in Gujarat is set for big facelift

Source: The Times of India

Nalsarovar, Gujarat’s first Ramsar site, is all set for a major makeover aimed at providing an experience beyond the thrill of watching migratory birds in all their glory and understanding their way of life. The state tourism department is working on supporting infrastructure on the lake’s periphery for tourists. Among the new additions will be a jetty for boats and a nature-inspired theme park. Similar features will come up at Thol, the second most popular site for bird watchers.

The department has appointed an agency for the work, to be carried out at a total cost of Rs 30 crore, said tourism secretary Hareet Shukla, adding that work will commence soon.

According to tourism officials, the last development at Nalsarovar was carried out in 2009 when the department had set up an interactive interpretation centre at the birding site. An official added, “Apart from landscaping of the entire area, Nalsarovar will have an upgraded entry point with added greenery. The driveway down to the lake will have structures of winged visitors that frequent the sanctuary. Plus, there will be separate parking facilities for buses, cars and two-wheelers.”

A special theme park is also being developed, which will have nature as its core focus. Officials said that there is no structure currently that can serve as a jetty. The upgrade will see a dedicated jetty added, enabling tourists to climb into boats without getting their feet muddy. Dedicated seating areas will allow them to enjoy the scenery after boat rides.

Nalsarovar also has a couple of islands called ‘bets’ where tourists can enjoy local breakfast or lunch made by villagers. Tourism in Gujarat’s prominent birding sites, including Thol, was affected by the pandemic and last year’s bird flu. The modern facilities being added in collaboration with the forest department will boost local economic development, officials said. The architecture firm appointed for Nalsarovar will also be developing Thol. Apart from the overall development on the lines of Nalsarovar, Thol will get a theme gate and watchtowers on the lake’s periphery. A bird viewing gallery has been planned as the lake does not offer boat rides. Another attractive feature will be a parking area for electric vehicles along with a waiting area for those charging their vehicles.'

WIN-WINTOI highlights three eco-tourist sites in the state which are models for local community development and play a part in environment conservation

Khijadiya: Located near Jamnagar city, the Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary is a site best known for its nature education camp. Range forest officer Daxa Vaghasia says Khijadiya has an interrelation zone which gives information on the 314 bird species sighted here. Participants in the nature education camp are offered food cooked over firewood. Visitors also get to know more about plant species and the important role of mangroves against coastal erosion. The two-day, one-night programme includes campfires and culture events.

Velavadar: The sanctuary located between Ahmedabad and Bhavnagar and famous for blackbucks is also a breeding site for the sarus crane. It has an eco-tourism development committee run by local villagers, who take care of food, tea and other needs of tourists. The sanctuary has two dormitories with nine beds each and three air-conditioned rooms. Officials say that the sanctuary has a footfall of over 10,000 while 3,000-odd visitors stay. Money raised from these facilities is used for village development, say officials.

Polo Forest: It is famous for sloth bears, but people also visit the site for the Eurasian vulture.

The forest department has six air-conditioned rooms and three non-AC tents besides log huts. This forest too has an eco-tourism development committee which maintains these facilities. The committee also takes care of the needs of tourists. The department runs an e-rickshaw service for tourists. Hence tourists are asked to park their vehicles outside and use the e-rickshaw instead. The local administration is also planning to get golf carts.

Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary: Located near Sanand village, it was declared a bird sanctuary in April 1969 and attracts over 2.5 lakh winter and spring migratory birds. It is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat. The reservoir is spread over 12,000 hectares. The maximum depth is 2.7m but the water is 1.5m deep in over 60% of the lake. The shallow waters allow vegetation growth under the surface, creating an ecosystem that offers abundant food to migratory birds.

Thol lake: Thol Lake is an artificial waterbody located in Thol village, 40km northwest of Ahmedabad. It was built in 1912 for irrigation purposes. The freshwater lake surrounded by marshes was declared Thol Bird Sanctuary in 1988. It is home to 150 species of birds, about 60% of which are water birds. Many migratory birds nest and breed in and around the lake. The two most famous species of birds recorded at the sanctuary are the flamingo and the sarus crane (Grus antigone). The lake drains a catchment area of 15,500 hectares.

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