Saputara, Gujarat, India- A Hill Station on Rise


Domestic Focus: Saputara: A Hill on the Rise
Going beyond the conventional idea of a ‘hill station’, Saputara offers clean, green and serene experience. Maansi Sharma shares what made change her opinion of what a hill station can be

Being born and brought up in Maharashtra, you expect the approach road to a hill station to be clogged with traffic, the streets to be full of vendors and the picnic and tourist spots strewn with garbage. When the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL), in an attempt to promote the ‘Monsoon Festival’ being celebrated from July 30 to August 30, 2011 at Gujarat’s only hill station, Saputara, invited media professionals to a FAM tour of the destination, what I expected was pretty obvious. However, Saputara has completely changed my opinion of what a hill station can be.

Saputara, no more than four km from the Maharashtra-Gujarat border, saw us arriving by road. As we entered Saputara, the first thing that caught my attention was a sprawling lake dotted with boats shaped like swans and a big balloon with ‘Gujarat Tourism’ and ‘Satputara Monsoon Festival’ printed on it. It was the first sign to what I eventually learned: Saputara was specifically and beautifully planned only for tourism.

What it offers:
We were first taken to see Governor’s Hill – the destination’s table land. Unlike Panchgini’s Asia plateau, Saputara’s hills are not too high at 1000 meters. It was not until we reached the top and saw a panoramic view of Saputara before us that we recognised the area’s untouched beauty. With a view of the city straight ahead, and the lake and the surrounding hills to the left, Saputara has a few structures, all of which were hotels, resorts and recreational facilities. Saputara is surrounded by the Sahyadri range and we spent an hour, tirelessly walking from one end to the other and clicking pictures, unable to get enough of the place’s beauty or a picture that did the sight any justice.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Surat is the nearest airport 172 km away.
Rail: Billimora station 80 km away.
Road: Easy accessibility from Chikhli, Billimora, Nasik and Surat.

The road had but a few cars driving smoothly into the region. The city was not overcrowded with houses as in Shimla, and the road was not chock-full of cars, a common sight in Lonavala. And, as I was soon to realise, there was not one piece of garbage strewn about.

We then headed on to the cultural show that TCGL has organised for tourists to get a glimpse of how the local Dangi tribe celebrate the Monsoon Festival. The evening was full of colourful dances performed by tribesmen and women. They went on to leave us open-mouthed while they made multiple formations of human pyramids in different shapes and sizes till the finale where the structure was tall enough to touch the roof of the tent, and it was no small tent at that. However, the most surprising revelation of the evening for us was when we discovered that not a single one of the performers was below 40!

Shopping was fun in Saputara too. Although the market is small, a confined area with about eight shops, the options are endless. Apart from everything available across the country, there are also jute bags and pouches that have that ethnic touch to them. However, the real shopping treat was at the Monsoon Festival photo gallery and souvenir store with the gallery full of photographs of sights around the state of Gujarat. TCGL has put up this temporary structure for tourists visiting during the season. A make-shift background of an aerial view of Saputara has been set up for pictures to be taken with the scene as the backdrop. The souvenir store is full of Saputara’s local handicrafts which included bags, purses, ash trays, picture frames, accessories, and even clips made in jute, wood and bamboo.

We spent the next day visiting the vivacious Girmal Falls. The Girmal Falls are a little over 80 km from Saputara and while the drive was longer than we cared for, the wait was well worth it. The falls have a fierce beauty that keeps you captivated, no matter which of the three provided view points you choose to look from. The water falls from a considerable height with the strength of, what I can imagine, would be about ten smaller falls, into a beautiful alcove and tapers into a thinner formation, flowing into the horizon.

On our way back, we decided to visit Shabari Dham, a temple built in the spot where Lord Ram of Hindu mythology is said to have stopped during his exile and fed fruit by the villager Shabari who had patiently awaited his foretold arrival for years.. Shabari Dham is not a big temple, but can stir within you a feeling of peace that a lot of bigger ones may be unable to do so.

My favourite part of the day however was the drive. The road stretches entirely through a forest which gets denser as you go deeper. Although wildlife here pales in comparison with the famous Gir National Park, the tingling excitement that comes with being inches away from a jungle is definitely stirred within when you look out the window at the forest.

Hospitality
Saputara offers basic accommodation: three-star hotels and resorts besides TCGL’s own Hotel Toran. We were put up in Saputara’s best three-star resort, Shilpi Hill Resort, and were treated to delectable Gujarati cuisine at Hotel Toran. The resort was beautiful along with being comfortable. Our rooms had large French windows that opened up early in the morning to let in a cloud of mist that seemed to always encircle the hotel. Each room seemed to offer a unique factor.

The cherry on top was the spread we were met with at Hotel Toran at meal time. The cuisine we experienced there was prepared in a way only the Gujaratis have mastered. In places where the air did not do the trick, the sight and aroma of the spread unfailingly reeled me in.

DEVELOPMENT PLAN:

TCGL has formulated a master plan to develop and maintain Saputara. Development of Saputara was planned in two phases – components A and B.

Component A Key features

Town centre: Tourist facilitation centre, Interpretation park, Shopping street, Town Hall
Sunrise Point: Food court, Yoga and Meditation Centre, Panchkarma Centre, amphitheater and play area, Paragliding, viewing platforms and other tourist infrastructure
Sunset Point: Food court, viewing platforms, Gazebo, walking track, Cantilevered Deck, etc.
Governor’s Hill: Sky-Walk, Planetarium and Sky Viewing, Food Court, viewing platforms, Go Carting, Wind Farm, Camping Facilities, Animal Rides and Viewing, Bungy Jumping
Existing Lake: Boating Deck, Gardens, Picnic Spot, Cultural Centre, Suspension Bridge, Toy Train, Museum, Underwater Aquarium, etc.
Component B Key features

New lake: Floating restaurant, Water Curtain, Dam, recreational parks
Tribal experience trail: Tribal Village Model, Accommodation Cottages, Tribal Healing Centre.
Wildlife Park: Tourist Orientation Centre, Bird Park, Rabbit Park, Underwater Aquarium.
Theme parks: Harry Potter, Disneyland, various cartoon characters, outer space etc.
First phase of the master plan has commenced development. The state government is investing Rs 150 crore in the first phase and is looking at attracting investment from the private sector. Rs 7.55 crore has been invested in Saputara Lake and Sunset Point development.

In the second phase, Rs five crore will be invested for the new lake at Navagam – three times the size of the Saputara Lake. Future projects worth Rs 60 crore for the development of Sunrise Point, Butterfly Park, two entrance gates, public utilities at six different places and an ethnic restaurant called Visamo, are in the offing at an estimated cost of Rs 60 crore.

Tourism
Apart from the spots we visited, Saputara has a myriad options for travellers. It offers recreational amenities like parks, a boat club, the Lakeview, Rose and Step Gardens, and a Botanical Garden. The Mahal Bardipara Forest Wildlife Sanctuary, Vansda National park and Purna Wildlife Sanctuary are within a 60 km radius from Saputara. For the more active traveller, a trek to Gandhi Shikhar is highly recommended.

For those who cannot get enough of a waterfall, the Gira Falls and Pampa Sarovar which are at approximately 52 km and 45 km distances respectively. And for those with more of an inclination to shopping, the Gandharvapur Artist Village offers a variety of handicraft and gift items.

All in all, Saputara can double as a year-round attraction, despite it being promoted currently only for the Monsoon Festival. This pushes Saputara tourism forward are TCGL packages which allow tourists to visit and experience the destination in a comfortable and economical way. Various tours have been chalked out ranging from one day to four days, each day touching upon at least four attractions in and around Saputara. The tours are specifically designed to promote the Dang tribal life, religion, and, currently, the monsoon season. Lush landscapes along with a glimpse of well-preserved and showcased tribal life make it unique and attractive to any visitor. For transit tourists travelling between Gujarat and Nashik or Shirdi, I doubt that there could be a more peaceful rest spot on the way to visit God.

Although Saputara has several attributes, its biggest plus point is the most obvious one – that it is a hill station. Despite statistics showing a large number of Indian tourists travelling abroad, a weekend getaway to a hill station is something that domestic travellers never seem to get enough of. Mahabaleshwar, Lonavala, Ootacamund and so many other hill stations are thriving on such tourists. However, Saputara has virtues that these destinations have lost a little over the years – serenity and cleanliness. These, along with scenic beauty, good food and great company have made my visit to Saputara one that I will be praising for years to come

Kaziranga National Park, the World Heritage Site, India


“You sway to the left and then to the right, as the Elephant you are on trudges through the tall grass (Elephant Grass or Pennisetum Purpureum)which you can actually touch from your perch. The mahout guides the big beast through trails and thickets and orders it to stop. Stop it does – right in front of the famed INDIAN ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS with her calf ! The Rhino snorts, looks at you and decides to disappear into the thicket with its young-ling in tow.

Welcome to the Kaziranga National Park, the World Heritage Site. Its 430 sq. kms. of swamps and grasslands with tall thickets of savannah elephant grass and patches of evergreen forest support the largest number of Rhinos on the subcontinent and gives you one of the highest wildlife viewing probabilities of any wildlife park from the back of an elephant or from a four wheel drive vehicle.
BUT KAZIRANGA IS NOT ALL ABOUT RHINOS. Apart from 60% of the worlds INDIAN ONE HORNED RHINOCEROS, the Park sustains half the worlds population of genetically pure Wild Water Buffaloes, over 1000 Wild Elephants and perhaps the densest population of ROYAL BENGAL TIGERS, anywhere.
Kaziranga is also home to some 500 species of birds. It is Raptor Country, a BIRD WATCHER’S PARADISE.. The Crested Serpent Eagle, Palla’s Fishing Eagle and the Greyheaded Fishing Eagle circle the skies and the Swamp Partridge, the Barheaded Goose, the Whistling Teal and Bengal Forrican, Storks, Herons and even Pelicans play in the water.
The easy accessibility to wildlife is the secret of Kaziranga’s popularity and is almost midway between the two major cities, Guwahati and Dibrugarh amidst the undulating landscapes of world’s oldest tea gardens outside China.

Jimmy Rawal
CEO
Adler Tours & Safaris

Emergency Contact :-
Mr. Jimmy Rawal – CEO carries mobile telephone for
24 hours plus the residence telephone
Mobile : +91 94262 28778
Res. Tel. : +91 281 2464785

ADLER TOURS & SAFARISOff. Mangla Main Road
13,Manhar Plot
RAJKOT 360 002
(GUJARAT) INDIA

Tel :-
+91 281 2465237
+91 281 3016355
Tele Fax :-
+91 281 2483878

Cell :-
+91 9825673771

Email :-adler-tours@hotmail.com
adlertourssafaris@yahoo.com
adlertourssafaris6@gmail.com

Web :-www.adler-tours.webs.comLive Chat I.D. :-MSN : adler-tours@hotmail.com
Yahoo : adlertourssafaris@yahoo.com
Skypee : jimmyrawal

Wild Party of Lion’s at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat, India.


Monsoon Weaves it’s Magic in the Gir Forest, Gujarat, India too. Deputy Conservator of Forest Sandeep Kumar captures Lion couples frolicking around and romancing in the rain in their Abode.

Courtesy:- Times of India.

Population of Rare Birds- Indian Bustards, set to rise


There is some hope for the Great India Bustard, which is believed to be on the verge of extinction. The bird population, which was around 48, is likely to cross 50 mark and record an increase of around 15-20%.

In 1998, only 29 bustards were found in Gujarat and after that there was no sighting. Finally, nearly after eight years, the bird was again sighted in 2005-06 in Abdasa. It was then that a study was taken up by the Gujarat Ecological Education Research, and the findings were heartening. The bird population was spread across Abdasa Taluka. The study reveals that a total of 35 Indian Bustards were counted in the winter population survey. The umber in the post-monsoon period hit 48, of which 21 were females.

Forest officials said an internal survey by department afforded some encouragement. The official’s said that they spotted chicks, which was a sign of healthy breeding in the area. The majestic bird is locally known as Ghorad. The population is likely to be around 55.

Officials said that the sanctuary is just 202 hectares in size, which was not enough. They said hat during the internal survey, more birds were spotted outside in open areas rather than in the sanctuary. The shy bird, resembling the ostrich, is a good flier but prefers to walk in open spaces. The bird even roosts and breeds tin the open.

The official’s census will be conducted in Abdasa and Naila Taluka where the birds have been spotted. “The census will be taken up in the last week of September or first week of October,” said the conservator of Forest D.K. Sharma.

Courtesy:- Times of India.

Taj Mahal, Agra(India) promises more amenities for Tourists


Agra promises more amenities for tourists

 
By TBM Staff | Mumbai Dt. 13th Aug. 2011
 
Agra’s tourism industry is preparing for the tourist season beginning September 1, 2011 by launching luxury buses, upgrading monuments and even recruiting English-speaking policemen – all of which is expected to improve the appeal of the city of the Taj Mahal, according to an IANS report. Latest figures from the Ministry of Tourism for the financial year ended March 31, 2011, confirm Agra is at the top position among tourist destinations in India. The Taj Mahal earned around Rs 20 crore (USD 4.5 million) from sale of entrance tickets alone. It topped the list of Archaeological Survey of India’s Agra circle monuments with 4.18 million Indian and 624,000 foreign tourists visiting it last year.

“Time has come to consolidate the gains and not fritter away the advantages, through increased cooperation and coordination among various government agencies and the local industry,” said Rajiv Tiwari, a senior tourism industry leader.

District authorities in cooperation with the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department have finalised a number of schemes that would broadbase facilities for visitors. Clearly, the flow of tourists has increased which is good for the city, said Rakesh Chauhan, President of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association. “One of the measures we are all set to launch this independence day is running a local tourist bus service,” Amrit Abhijat, Divisional Commissioner, said.

Visitors will now be able to board luxurious air-conditioned specially done-up Marco Polo buses, for a tour of the city from the Agra Cantt railway station. Four buses will take the tourists to Fatehpur Sikri, Sikandra, Taj Mahal and the Agra Fort, according to Neeraj Saxena, Regional Manager of the state roadways. Buses will have women conductors and a woman constable. The buses were being given a trendy look compatible with Mughal heritage, Saxena said. Tourist guides and brochures would be provided in the buses for convenience. LCD screens will provide relevant information about the monuments.

“Four villages in the district have been given ‘Tourist Village’ status to enable tourists to see our rural culture from a closer angle,” the commissioner said.
Government departments have been asked to coordinate and provide amenities for tourists and streamline infrastructure to attract tourists to these villages.

Facilities at Bateshwar Ghats are being upgraded and better connectivity is being provided. Recently the Yamuna Aarti like in Haridwar and Varanasi was started at Batehshwar, 70 km from the city.

The state tourism department is already working on the Heritage Walk project which will enable tourists to witness the grandeur of the heritage city on foot, Abhijat said.

Aseem Arun, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) has unveiled a package of police reforms that will not only increase the visibility of cops but also quicken their response. Cops on sleek bikes, speaking flawless English, with the latest gadgetry will hopefully be seen around monuments to instil a sense of confidence in tourists.
Funds from entrance tickets to various monuments collected by the Agra Development Authority would be used to give a makeover to the police image. The Tourist Thana on Fatehabad road, a special police station for registering the complaints of tourists, is being given a new look. The DIG has taken the initiative to provide five brand new cars which will patrol the monuments. The selection process for inducting smart English-knowing cops has begun.

To add to the sense of security, Arun has ordered the posting of horse-mounted cops around the monuments. Women cops on scooties are already on the move keeping an eye on eve-teasers. Police teams are being provided with latest state-of-the-art gadgets, belts, night vision cameras and laser beams.

A proposal to print helpline numbers on entrance tickets to various monuments has been green-signalled. Providing helpline numbers would better address the grievances of tourists, said Sandip Arora, hotelier.

 

Jimmy Rawal
CEO
Adler Tours & Safaris

Emergency Contact :-
Mr. Jimmy Rawal  – CEO carries mobile telephone for
24 hours plus the residence telephone
Mobile
     :  +91 94262 28778
Res. Tel. :  +91  281 2464785

ADLER TOURS & SAFARIS
Off. Mangla Main Road
13,Manhar Plot
RAJKOT
360 002
(GUJARAT) INDIA

Tel :- 
+91 281 2465237
+91 281 3016355
Tele Fax :-
+91 281 2483878

Web :-www.adler-tours.webs.comLive Chat I.D. :-
MSN  
    : adler-tours@hotmail.com
Yahoo    : adlertourssafaris@yahoo.com
Skypee   : jimmyrawal

%d bloggers like this: