| Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Kumar Modi inaugurates eco-tourism at Valmiki Tiger Reserve on Thursday. Telegraph picture |
Wildlife enthusiasts can now head to Valmiki Tiger Reserve (VTR) not just to spot the big cats but also to unwind in the lap of nature.
Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi on Thursday inaugurated eco-tourism at the reserve spread across 901sqkm, turning the VTR at Bagaha in West Champaran into a paradise for nature lovers.
Modi inaugurated Valmiki Vihar, a 12-room forest resort amid the serene landscape of the Gandak river and the Dhaulagiri snow peaks of Nepal. He said: “The VTR has been officially opened as an eco-tourism destination, where we have provided accommodation and exploration facilities through jungle safari. Valmiki Vihar has been refurnished, which can accommodate 24 people. We are also in talks with the tourism department to get their guesthouse project at Valmikinagar completed. Eco-tourism at this tiger reserve also aims at community participation to generate employment through accommodation and guide services among others.”
VTR is situated 289km north of the capital in the Tarai region of the Himalayas extending to Royal Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wildlife Sanctuary of Nepal on its north and Uttar Pradesh on west. Santosh Tiwari, the field director of VTR, said 901sqkm of forest area at Valmikinagar was notified in 1960. It was declared as a tiger reserve by the Government of India in 1973. It was taken up as a part of Project Tiger in 1992. “The core area in this tiger reserve is spread across 598sqkm and the remaining is the buffer zone. Eco-tourism activities would be carried out in 400sqkm, with blanket restriction for the core area. Later, we can allow eco-tourism activities in 20 per cent of the core area as well,” said Santosh.
The facilities provided under eco-tourism include accommodation at the forest resort, rest houses and eco-huts developed by the forest department. Accommodation apart, the visitors can also undertake a jungle safari on two jeeps of the forest department. People would also be allowed to take their own vehicles but with the permission of the forest department.
Bookings for the various eco-tourism facilities are being provided by the forest department at VTR’s website www.valmikitigerreserve.com. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation will start a one night and day Tiger Safari package from Patna to VTR for the weekends within a month. People would be charged Rs 2,500 per head.