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Ecotourism in Himachal

The form of 'Eco Tourism' places the highest value on culture and natural heritage. This strategy seeks to protect that heritage and culture which is the foundation of the travel industry in India. The tourist travels abroad or at home in search of pleasure, leisure, adventure, recreation at historical sites, wildlife parks, beaches, towns and villages.

The Himachal eco-system provides the ideal habitat for a huge variety of animal and bird species. They create travel and eco tour experiences that are fun and exciting, then go beyond the ordinary to incorporate elements that promote cross-cultural understanding, encourage environmental sustainability, and fulfill long-held personal dreams.

Formidable Mountain Ranges
Landlocked behind formidable mountain barriers in the western Himalayas, sheltered from the rain-bearing monsoon winds, the remote and desolate district of Lahaul-Spiti in Himachal is renowned not only for some of the wild, untamed and enchanting mountain scapes but also for its unique Buddhist culture.

Covering a total area of over 12,000-sq-kms, Lahaul-Spiti is the largest district of Himachal Pradesh. It shares a common border with Tibet in the east. A lofty offshoot of the great Himalayan range in the southeast separates it from Kinnaur. In the north, the Baralacha range separates it from the cold desert of Ladakh, while the Chamba and Kullu district lie to the west respectively.

Historic Cultural Heritage
Today the district is studded with numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries including Labarang, Gondhala, Dalung, Keylong, Guru-Ganthal, Darcha, Markula in Lahul and Dhankar, Mud, Lidang, Rangrik, Ki (also spelt as Kye), Losar and Tabo in Spiti. A millennium old Tabo is one of the area's most revered monasteries. Often called the "Ajanta of the Himalaya" because of its breathtaking murals and stucco images, tabo's sanctity in trans-himalayan Buddhism is next only to Tibet's tholing gompa.

Changes have occurred in dress patterns, food habits; traditional occupations like sheep rearing and even in the religious life. Although change is inevitable and no community wishes to preserve itself as a museum of backwardness, it is the rapid pace of change and a lack of understanding of the nature of change, which a society is unable to control, or direct that touches a cord of concern. The development of tourism accelerates this process of change and rapidly pushes traditional societies into the global economy totally ill-equipped.

Promoting Tourism
By planning and promoting a healthy, sustainable, tourism industry in this cold desert district, the government will have fulfilled its share of responsibility but in the end, it may not be the number of tourists but their sensitivity towards the local culture and environment that will determine the complexion of tourism and the future of this unique heritage.
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