Himachal restores its resthouses in lap of nature

Himachal restores its resthouses in lap of nature

Some of the resthouses, developed by the British in typical Tudor style, will give taste of the bygone grandeur of the Raj era too.

"We have started the process to develop the resthouses that are located in the interiors of the state. For quite sometime these were not in use. Initially, 10 sites have become operational," Forest Minister J P Nadda told reporters.

"These resthouses will definitely attract a class of tourists who want to stay away from five-star culture to which they are accustomed to at home. This will not only give a boost to ecotourism but also help decongest the popular tourist destinations. Of course, this initiative will provide employment opportunities to the local people," he said.

The forest department has identified 23 more resthouses and forest inspection huts for which it has invited bids from private parties, Nadda said. Promoting adventure-related activities such as jungle trekking, angling, mountain biking and rock climbing and bird watching in the vicinity of the resthouses will also be part of promoting ecotourism, he said.

Additional Chief Secretary Avay Shukla, who is associated with the ecotourism project, said Rs 60 lakh (Rs 6 million) has been allotted for the development of five eco-circuits which are rich in biodiversity. These are in Dalhousie in Chamba district, Triund and the Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary in Kangra district, Chopal in Shimla district and the Kais Wildlife Sanctuary in Kullu district.

"The central government has also sanctioned Rs 3.68 crore (Rs 36.8 million) for promoting ecotourism in the state. So far Rs 2.94 crore (Rs 29.4 million) has been released," Shukla said. Himachal Pradesh is one of the biggest storehouses of biodiversity in the country.

As many as 447 species of birds and 107 species of mammals have been recorded in the forests and snow-capped mountains of the hill state, covering 55,673 sq km. Among the birds, it has the largest population of chir pheasants in the world, says the Zoological Survey of India in its report, "Fauna of Western Himalaya". There are 184 species of moths and 288 species of butterflies too.

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