9 Places to Visit Before They Are No More

Yes, you have read that right. It is said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever, but it would seem that these places might not be around for much longer, unfortunately. These are places of extreme vulnerability that need positive action and preservation at the earliest for there to be any hope for recovery. While that is underway, go visit these places, be a mindful tourist, and spread the word about the threat these locations face.

Kaziranga National Park, Assam

Image Source: Scroll.in

Head over to Assam’s Kaziranga Park to witness the beauty of its lush forests, scenic backdrops, and rich life. No, it is not the place that is endangered, but rather what resides within it: the one-horned rhinoceros.

One of the biggest animals on the earth, their number has now shrunk to a mere 3000, despite living in protected lands. Hunting of the rhinoceros for their skin and their horn remains a threat, as does the human encroachment on the borders of the National Park resulting in a decrease in the area for these animals.

How to get there:

The nearest town is Bokakhat, about 23 kilometres from the Park; major cities around the site are Guwahati, Dimapur and Jorhat.

By Air – The nearest connected airport is located in Guwahati airport, about 217 kilometres away from the Park, with well-maintained roads to the Park. Cabs can be hired, or one can take public transportation to visit the Park.

By Train – The Park is well connected by trains from all major stations like Guwahati, Kolkata, at Furkating, about 75 kilometres from the Park.

By Road – The main gate of the Park is located in Kohora, which falls on National Highway 37, thereby being well connected to major cities of Assam, by state transport, or private transport. The nearest bus stand is in Numaligarh, about 70 kilometres from the Park.

Nearest Cities – Golaghat, Nagaon.

Sunderban Mangroves, West Bengal

Source: IndiaHeritageSites

Home to the largest mangrove forest, the mangroves here are not only unique to the ecology but are also a cornerstone for the environment. They attract a variety of wildlife that is found nowhere else; in fact, this place is of such importance that it finds itself on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.

In recent times, the mangroves are being subjected to population stress and climatic changes due to which the quality of the ecology here is dwindling, making it prone to being submerged underwater.

How to get there:

The most popular entry point is from Godhkali Port, situated by Gosaba, which happens to be the last inhabited area before the Sunderbans deepen.

By Air – The nearest and well-connected airport is in Kolkata, about 120 kilometres away from which point one can travel via road or rail.

By Rail – The nearest railway station is the Canning station from which point a taxi can be hired to reach the Godhkali entry point about 64 kilometres away from the station.

By Road – Public transport is not suggested in case one’s preferred mode of transport is via the road. On the other hand, private transportation in the form of cabs and taxis are available aplenty, either from the airport at Kolkata, or from the railway station either in Sealdah, or Canning.

Nearest City – Kolkata.

Bhitarkanika Mangroves, Odisha

Image Source: UnfurledWings

Just like the Sunderbans, Bhitarkanika is also a treasure trove for any nature and environment lover. Find flora and fauna exclusive to this mangrove flourish, such as the white crocodile, King Cobra and about 62 mangrove species. About 99 migrant species visit these mangroves every year, including the much popular Olive Ridley turtles.

Being a sensitive ecology, it has been very vulnerable to human exploitation of the resources, and the climate change has not been kind to the mangroves either.

How to get there:

The Mangroves have 2 entry points, one each in Khola and Gupti villages, making it better accessible depending on which side of Odisha one is travelling from.

By Air – The airport at Bhubaneswar is around 190 kilometres from the mangroves, and is well-connected with the rest of the country.

By Rail – The nearest railway station is the one in Bhadrakh, located about 77 kilometres away.

By Road – The best connected and maintained route take one via Rajnagar on the Pattamundai Road, around 51 kilometres away from the mangroves.

Nearest Cities – Kendrapara, Rajkanika, Chandbali.

Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh

Image Source: VizagTourism

Nestled in the Eastern Ghats, Araku valley, located in Vishakhapatnam, offers a respite to all the people who need an escape from the scorching southern heat. Referred to as the ‘Ooty of Andhra’, it offers waterfalls, coffee plantations, rich tribal culture and flora consisting of deciduous forests with orchids and ferns.

The valley faces the threat of deforestation due to overpopulation in the form of locals and tourists. Bauxite ore is found in large quantities in this area, and it is only a matter of time before somebody is given the license. To make matters worse, the decision to industrialize this valley is only going to scar the place further.

How to get there:

By Air – Being located in the Eastern Ghats, taking a flight to either Bhubaneswar, or Hyderabad being better connected internationally, or Vishakapatnam or Vijayawada airports, connected domestically. All of these airports are around 500 kilometres away, with the exception of the Vishakapatnam airport that is about 110 kilometres from the Valley.

By Rail – The nearest station that is well connected to the Valley is Vishakhapatnam, whereat trains to Araku can be found at great frequency.

By Road – Araku Valley is well connected from Vishakhapatnam in order to facilitate travel by buses or cars. Public bus service runs from the city at a great frequency.

Nearest City – Visakhapatnam.

Coral Reef, Lakshadweep Islands

Image Source: CompetitiveIndia

Growing up, everybody has read about the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, but did you know that India has its own Reef as well? With over 78 species of corals, 82 species of seaweed, more than 600 species of marine fish, Lakshadweep boasts of one of the most diverse coral reefs found. Referred to as the Rainforests of the Ocean, they are essential to an island not just because of the marine life that resides within it, but because the reef forms a natural protection around the island.

However, a lack of understanding of the sensitivity of the corals hinders conservation attempts. Rapid erosion, coral mining, tourism, dredging, climatic factors are all compounding the dangers faced by the coral ecosystem with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicting that the coral reefs could decline about 70-90% by the year 2040.

How to get there:

Being under the government of Kerala, Kochi is best understood to be the entrance to Lakshadweep.

By Air – The only airstrip is in Agatti, which can be accessed from Kochi airport. Flights to Kochi can be found aplenty. Once in Agatti, the islands are accessible by boats in the months between October to May. Helicopter travel from Agatti is also available.

By Water – There are seven passenger ships that ply from the Kochi port to the Lakshadweep islands, with different classes of accommodation. The travel takes about 14-18 hours, depending on which island one wishes to disembark.

Nearest City – Agatti

The Western Ghats

Image Source: The Hindu

The mountain ranges of the Western Ghats are filled with a rich variety of flora and fauna and tribal diversity. It is a testament to nature and humans working and living in harmony.

Now, with how close the Western Ghats are to the cities around, and the demand for a scenic real estate property, it is only a matter of time when the mountains are reduced to rubble in the name of commercialization, with the forests and wildlife numbers progressively decreasing before being lost forever.

How to get there:

By Air – Kochi airport is the nearest international airport, from where public or private transportation can be hired.

By Rail – Palakkad junction in Kerala is the nearest well-connected railway station, with the Theni Railway station, being the closest, but with limited connectivity.

By Road – There is excellent connectivity from all the surrounding cities – Kochi, Coimbatore, Pune, Bangalore, etc.

Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan

Image Source: Jaisalkot

A UNESCO designated World Heritage Site, the fort was built around the year 1100 by the Rajputs. It is also called the Sonar Quilla because of its yellow sandstone.  One of the rarities of this fort is that it is a ‘living fort’, with about one-fourth of the city’s population residing within it.

A fort that stood strong for about 900 years is now crumbling in the face of lack of preservation and the volume of tourists visiting annually. In addition to these, water seepage, seismic activity around the fort has led to portions of the fort collapsing.

How to get there:

By Air – The nearest airport with good connectivity is in Jodhpur which has connectivity with almost all cities. This airport is about 300 kilometres from the Fort, requiring one to take either buses or cabs.

By Rail – Jaisalmer has excellent connectivity via trains from different cities like Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, etc. Upon reaching Jaisalmer, one has to avail local means of transport to reach the Fort.

By Road – Housing a tourist attraction as grand as the Jaisalmer Fort, the location is well connected via roads. Public transportation run by Rajasthan Roadways ply quite regularly, connecting one to the nearest cities or populous towns. Once in Jaisalmer, cabs or autos are to be hired from the bus terminal to reach the destination.

Nearest City – Jodhpur.

Wular Lake, Jammu and Kashmir

Image Source: FamousPlacesInIndia

Feast your eyes on one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia before it disappears from sight. Designated as a Ramsar site, the lake is a significant fish habitat that feeds the population of the Kashmir valley. It is also an important site for birdwatchers with the variety of species residing around the lake.

The threat to Wular Lake is in the form of converting the lake’s catchment areas into agricultural land that deteriorates the fish population. Further trouble comes when fertilizers are added to this converted land. Hunting of the surrounding wildlife is also deteriorating the lake as we know it.

How to get there:

By Air – The international airport located in Srinagar offers flights from Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh quite reliably. Once in Srinagar, the road trip to the lake takes approximately two hours.

By Rail – Srinagar is accessible from either the Jammu Tawi, or the Udhampur railway station. From this point, the only connectivity is via road.

By Road – Being the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar is connected via a plethora of roads interconnecting a lot of cities such as Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu, etc. From Srinagar, the Lake is located about 60 kilometres away.

Nearest City – Srinagar.

Papikonda National Park, Andhra Pradesh

Image Source: IndianTouristSpots

Located in the Papi Hills spread over Eastern and Western Godavari, this National Park is home to some of the endangered species of flora and fauna such as the sloth bear, Indian leopard, sambar deer.

There is an immediate threat of parts of this National Park being submerged as a direct consequence of the Polavaram irrigation project. In fact, it is said that no part of the Papi Hills will survive this project.

How to get there:

By Air – The nearest airport that is well connected is the one in Vijayawada, about 162 kilometres, with a local airport in Rajahmundry that is around 75 kilometres away.

By Rail – Paapi Hills is well connected via various trains, with the nearest stations being located in the Godavari, Kovvuru, Rajahmundry, all-around 50 kilometres from the destination.

By Road – Paapi Hills is nestled in between major cities like Rajahmundry (60 kilometres), Hyderabad (430 kilometres), Vijaywada (160 kilometres), Vishakapatnam (183 kilometres), Warangal (313 kilometres), etc., making road transport one of the most preferred ways of travelling to the destination. Public transport also offers its services from these cities quite regularly and reliably.

Nearest City – Rajahmundry.

Rama Setu, Tamil Nadu

Image Source: IndiaToday

Located off the coast of Tamil Nadu, between Rameswaram Island in India and Mannar Island in Sri Lanka, lies the Adam’s Bridge, or more popularly known as Rama Sethu. The beauty of this destination lies in the fact that the entire bridge is made of limestone shoals, that is, as popularly believed, to have been constructed by Lord Hanuman’s monkey army while helping Lord Rama reach Lanka.

It is under tremendous stress in the face of the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project that threatens its very existence.

How to get there:

The point from which the bridge starts is a place called Dhanushkodi, which is at the tip of Rameshwaram island.

By Air – The closest airport is either the Madurai, around 150 kilometres, or the Tuticorin Airport, around 145 kilometres, in Tamil Nadu. From there, Rameshwaram is accessible via public or private transport.

By Rail – The closest station to the destination is the Rameshwaram railway station, which is well connected to most south plying trains.

By Road – Rameshwaram is well linked to various cities in Tamil Nadu, with the closest major city being Madurai.

Once in Rameshwaram, Dhanushkodi is about 20 kilometres away, and can be reached via jeeps as the condition of the roads is not adequate. From Dhanushkodi, boats can be hired that take the visitors to major points of interest.

Nearest City – Madurai.

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