DINDIGUL: The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), Centre for Rural Education and Development (CRED) and the district forest department will launch eco-tourism at Sirumalai hills from January 2023. Sirumalai hills, located 25 km from the district, is prepping up to welcome environmental enthusiasts for the 2023 new year celebrations.
Speaking to TNIE, NABARD district development manager AS Sakthi Balan said, "Sirumalai provides huge possibilities for trekking and the locations are identified by the forest department. Trained residents, including the tribal community, will guide the visitors. Interested people should do advance booking at www.siru-ula.com. The main aim of the Rs 25 lakh project is to bring about a sustainable travel culture here, which can reduce the carbon footprint of tourists."
Explaining the eco-tourism project, CRED Secretary S Alagesan said tourists have to pay Rs 610 per day, which includes lunch, stay, trekking fees and other amenities. "Representatives at the Sirula reception centre at Pudur, will give a small brief on eco-tourism."
The itinerary will be arranged as per the visitors' interest. They can stay in a tent (which keeps the inhabitants warm even at 10-degree celsius) or in a farmhouse. The homestay premises will have different variety of plants such as pepper and coffee.
Artificial falls will also be set up in a few farmhouses. Tourists can directly pick the vegetables here and cook or seek help from chefs. Devoid of mobile phones, they can enjoy a blissful trip and can even purchase a variety of organic species. Joyrides will also be set up for their entertainment," he said.
District Forest Officer S Prabhu said the tourists will be accompanied by members and volunteers from the forest welfare committee along with forest watchers in recognised routes. "Tourists can get information through the forest department's centre at the bio-diversity park. Usage of plastic and liquor is banned, Officials will hold thorough inspections at the entry point," he said.
Located in the eastern ghats and at an altitude of 1,600 metres above sea level, visitors need to traverse 18 hairpins to experience the journey of a lifetime. Some of the tourist attractions include the famous Velankanni church and mosque, Vellimalai Murugan temple, and several falls located in Palaiyur. The region is famous for its different banana plantations.