Attraction of the Wetlands

Beaches along India's coastline attract a considerable number of recreational domestic and foreign tourists. The beaches of Goa and the coral reefs of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, for instance, are prominently marked on the tourism map. The back waters of Kerala attract a lot of tourists because of their scenic beauty, rich culture, local water sports and festivals.Naturopathy and ayurveda clinics as health resorts are marketed along with natural beauty of the area. In Gujarat, the Gulf of Kuchchh and the Little Rann attract wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers. Keoladeo National Park, Rajasthan abode of the Siberian cranes, has a considerable tourist traffic of about one hundred thousand tourists a year.

Wetland tourism has traditionally been linked in India with areas of religious and historical interest. For example, tours to Delhi-Agra-Jaipur are combined with bird watching at Keoladeo National Park. This circuit constitutes the golden triangle of tourism in northern India and has created a captive clientele for Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur. Then again, different religions in India have, over the ages, established strong links with water bodies. Hindu temples and Sikh gurudwaras are often built near water. Sangams, the confluence of two rivers, are also considered to be holy sites. In Kashmir,the beautiful and historic Mughal gardens were constructed around Dal lake, located at the heart of the Kashmir valley. Just as the Dal has attracted tourists for centuries,similarly,lakes in the Nainital district, Udaipur, Ooty and Kodaikanal, and the lower and upper lakes of Bhopal are popular tourist attractions.

As in India, so also throughout the world , lakes, reservoirs, tanks, marshes, swamps, coral reefs and other water bodies have been centres of tourist attraction due to their rich wildlife. However, the lack of proper planning and neglect of environmental considerations in such wetland areas has resulted in problems such as eutrophication, algal blooms, poaching, oil spills, etc. This has further led to problems of biodiversity loss and decreasing water supplies. Many water bodies are also infested with introduced species of weeds. In some coastal areas problems like collecting of souvenirs in the form of corals, shells and sponges, has led to further exploitation of local biodiversity. While these wetlands are already under pressure due to various human induced factors, the unplanned influx of tourism has further compounded problems.

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