Thousands throng Himachal for adventure (With Images)May 31st, 2009 - 10:47 am ICT by IANS
By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, May 31 (IANS) Rock-climbing, jungle or desert trekking, camping, white-water rafting or parasailing-thousands of adventure lovers are thronging Himachal Pradesh this summer.
“On an average we receive 15 to 20 enquiries daily about prominent trekking routes and camping sites. Now, not only professional trekkers but also amateurs and children are trekking and climbing in the state,” tourism secretary Manisha Nanda told IANS.
According to the tourism department, over 50,000 tourists, mainly from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, have been to the Himalayan state over the past two months.
Popular tourist town Manali is in the middle of a heavy rush of adventure seekers.
“This season the response is quite good as more than 20,000 tourists have reached Manali for adventure-related activities. The arrival of adventure tourists will continue till the onset of winter,” said Mehar Chand Thakur, a prominent travel agent in Manali.
Manali has over 40 travel agents who specialise in adventure tourism.
“Most tourists, particularly foreigners, prefer to tread the lofty slopes in Kullu, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts,” he added.
The Manali-based Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, which conducts mountaineering expeditions, high-altitude treks and white-water rafting, is also getting good response from professionals and amateurs.
“A large number of enquiries have been received from trekkers and mountaineers from all over the world regarding trekking routes, mountain peaks, camping sites and climatic conditions,” said Rajeev Sharma, a senior mountaineering instructor at the institute.
The institute, set up in 1961, is also conducting special activities for corporate executives, students and families in adventure sports - mountaineering, backpacking, skiing, soft adventure, trekking, rafting, kayaking and paragliding.
“The response (to adventure activities) is good. A number of camps are under way in the mountains,” Sharma said.
Some popular treks include Tirthan-Sainj that passes through the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district.
Blessed with magnificent glaciers, lofty mountains and gurgling streams, the five-day trek is an ideal getaway for professionals. It takes one from an altitude of 1,700 metres to about 5,800 metres.
Rohit Sood, who runs a rafting centre in Kullu town, said: “White-water rafting in the Kullu valley is gaining ground by the day as an adventure sport activity. This year the rafting season is fine as a large number of daredevils are coming to test themselves.
“There is a sharp increase in commercial activity in the valley. Now more than 35 agencies are dealing with rafting.”
Himachal Pradesh, with a population of just over six million, attracted 9.37 million domestic and 367,000 foreign tourists last year. Kullu and Manali are the hotspots for tourists, followed by Shimla and Dharamsala.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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