Eco-Tourism Potential of the P.A. and Its Surrounding Areas

       Semadoh, where the first Nature Interpretation Center of the Project Tiger was established, is about 25 kms from Chikhaldara and about 50 kms from Paratwada. Wildlife viewing in tourist zone in vehicle safari and the Project Tiger museum are some of the attractions at Semadoh from nature interpretation and ecotourism point of view.  This museum has vast potential for upgradation as a national level museum and Nature Interpretation Centre.  Experts such as Centre for Environmental Education, shall be involved in this process and upgraded, interactive displays should be installed. Interpretation center at Harisal has been established to attract tourists from M.P. and Dharni area of Maharashtra.  This has Sipna river crossing in its back yard.  It has very good potential for large scale investment as it is on fringe of core-buffer area and upgradation as an ecotourism centre.  So far it is lying neglected.  If developed, it may provide many livelihood opportunity to people of 3-4 villages.   

                Interpretation center at Gullarghat has been established to create and disseminate awareness of local medicinal plants.  This also needs to be upgraded by using latest displays.  So far it is also neglected and has lot of potential in view of large tourist inflow particularly during monsoon in Dharagad temple nearby.  After the relocation of Dhargad, Gullarghat and Kelpani villages in near future, it may become a big attraction as Jungle Safari. Interpretation Center at Amravati has been established for meeting the needs of nature education to urban population and as a gateway to Melghats.  This needs to be upgraded in future as per the technology advancement and funds availability.  Chikhaldara plateau which is a fine hill station in Amravati district is adjacent to the Project Area and is a major tourist attraction, especially during summer holidays.  About 2.5 km. to the South-West to Chikhaldara lies the Gavilgad fort built in 1426 A.D. by Ahmed Shah, the Bahamani Ruler of Deccan for strengthening his northern frontier in order to prevent inroads during his southern wars.  Its name implies to its having been at one time like Gavilgad, the stronghold of a local Gaoli Chieftain before the advent of the Bahamanis. Apart from the fort, which commands several splendid views, Chikhaldara offers a host of other points of tourist interest.  Beside Chikhaldara and wildlife tourism around the Semadoh Project Tiger Complex, some other points of tourist interest in and around Melghat are as under:

(i)   Vairat Point: - also called sunset point, is at a distance of about ten kilometers and is the highest of all the hills of Chikhaldara.  The place is associated with ancient Indian mythology for it is considered to be the ruling seat of kingVirat with whom the Pandavas are supposed to have resided during the period of their exile.  Chandrabhaga River rises just below the Vairat plateau.
(ii)   The Makhala road offers several scenic view points, particularly in monsoons when a thick fog wraps a mystic ambience to the whole region.
(iii)  The Sankhala point, Named after Shri, Kailash Sankhala, father of Project Tiger in India.  This point is of interest to wildlife tourist as Sankhala during his visit to Melghat camped at this scenically beautiful site, near Makhala.
(iv)   Kolkaz and surrounding forest. Rakhidoh or Rakshadoh and Dia doh near Kolkaz.
(v)   Narnala fort: history mentions that in 1426 A.D. when Ahmed Shah built the Gavilgad fort, he also repaired the Narnala fort.  This implies that the later is an older fort and, like Gavilgad, it too played an important role in the history of mediaeval Berar.
(vi)   Wan Sanctuary: Dhulghat railway makes a structure ‘8’ while traversing the bend.  Wari dam, Hanuman temple, and the relocation of 3 villages would developed as meadows with increased wildlife sighting, would become important Tourist Circuit.
(vii) Ambabarwa Sanctuary In linkage with Shegaon:  Shegaon is now the best tourist spot developed in Vidarbha region.  The frequency of tourist visiting Shegaon is tremendous due to its pilgrimage value and picnic spot Anand Sagar developed by the Sant Gajanan Maharaj Santhan at Shegaon.  Ambabarwa Sanctuary is about- 65 kms. From Shegaon and it can be another tourist spot for the tourist coming at Shegaon by integrating it with the Shegaon Circuit.
(viii)Mahadeo temple near Dhargad:  Apart from above prominent points, numerous trekking routes and cycling routes can be developed to attract adventurous eco-tourists, for which there is lot of potential.
The annual tourist inflow is given below:

Year No. of  visitors
2010-11 49,950
2011-12 22,410
2012-13 14,664
2013-14 33,419
2014-15 32,927

 
Considering the vastness, varied and scenic landscape, number of tourist is very low and mainly concentrated to weekends and vacations.

Tourism Zone Existing in Mtr in Core Zone As Per Sanctioned Management Plan

As per the sanctioned management Plan of Melghat Tiger Reserve for the period 2004 – 2005 to 2013 – 14 written by Shri. Ramanuj Chaudhary for Gugamal National Park 361.28 Sq. Km., Melghat Sanctuary 767.36 Sq. Km. and multiple uses Area 469.75 Sq. Km. the tourism zone identified are given as under.
 Core

Sr.No. Name of proposed Area Tourism Area Area No. of Comptt
1 Melghat Sanctuary Semadoh tourism Area 58.67 Sq.Km. 26
2 Melghat Sanctuary Harisal tourism Area 48.57 Sq.Km. 22
3 Melghat Sanctuary Gullarghat tourism Area 21.42 Sq.Km. 8
4 Gugamal National Park Chikhadhara tourism Area  06.67 Sq.Km. 2
  Total   135.83 Sq.Km. 58

Buffer

Sr.No.

Name of proposed Area

Tourism Area

Area

No. of Compartment

1 Melghat Sanctuary Harisal tourism Area 16.50 Sq.Km. 7

As per the sanctioned Management Plan of Narnala, Wan & Ambabarva Wildlife Sanctuaries for the period 2003- 04 to 2012 – 13 written by Shri. R. N. Rai, Deputy Conservator of Forest. Akot Wildlife Division, Akot the tourism zones identified in the present core zone of Melghat Tiger Reserve are given as under:-

Sr.No.

Name of  Area

Tourism Area

Area

No. of Comptt

1 Narnala Wildlife  Sanctuary        Narnala tourism zone        2.03 Sq.Km.    3
2 Wan Wildlife  Sanctuary             Wan tourism zone             32.08 Sq.Km. 11
3 Ambabarva Wildlife  Sanctuary  Ambabarwa tourism Area 21.26 Sq.Km. 8
  Total   55.37 Sq.Km. 22

Thus a total of 191.20 sq.km, i.e, 19120 ha of the core area of Melghat Tiger Reserve was identified as tourism zone till 2012-13 as per the above mentioned sanctioned Management Plans.
The Govt. of Maharashtra vides its notification no. WLP 10-07/CR-297/F-1, dated 27/12/2007 notified an area of 1500.49 Sq.Km. as critical Tiger Habitat as core of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. Thus, it is apparent that of the total notified core area, 12.74 % of the area was delineated as tourism zone and used for tourism purposes.

Identification of New Proposed Tourism Area In Core Region

The following Eco-tourism zones are identified for proposed ecotourism activity:

Abstract
Name of Tourism zone Forest Area in Core in Ha. Non Forest in Core in Ha. Total in Ha.
Semadoh-Harisal 10356.89 98.61 10455.50
Narnala 795.97 0.00 795.97
Wan 1893.37 49.03 1942.40
Dhargad-Gullarghat 3669.77 233.13 3902.90
Chikhaldara 1587.15 291.45 1878.60
 Grand Total 18303.15 672.22 18975.37
  Say 189.75 Sq. Km.

Melghat Tiger Reserve has 2029.06 sq km. area of which 1500.49 sq km is critical tiger habitat area (core area). The proposed area under ecotourism is 189.75 sq. km. which is 12.64 % of total core area of MTR.
The Ecotourism Sub-Plan of Melghat Tiger Reserve has been prepared and got approved on 17th December 2012 by Local Advisory Committee headed by Divisional Commissioner, as prescribed by the Govt. of Maharashtra vide its Resolution No. WLP -2012/C.N. 309/F-1, Mantralaya, Mumbai, Revenue & Forest Department, dated 09/11/2012.
The Ecotourism Sub-Plan of Melghat Tiger Reserve is attached as an annexure to Tiger Conservation Plan.

 Special Objects of Management :
Highlight the heritage value of India’s wilderness and protected areas.
Build environment & cultural awareness and respect.
Facilitate the sustainability of ecotourism enterprises & activities.
Provide livelihood opportunities to local communities and benefit sharing.
Use indigenously locally produced and ecologically sustainable materials for tourism activities.
Wilderness conservation in ecologically sensitive landscapes.
Capacity building of local communities in planning, providing and managing ecotourism facilities.
Conservation, education and training.
Proper monitoring and evaluation of the impact of ecotourism in the protected areas from time to time, through the Local Advisory committee as constituted by the State Govt.        

Official Website of Melghat Tiger Project, Amravati