Yadadri-Bhongir: Yadadri is turning out to be quite the destination for tourists in Telangana State, not just as part of the religious tourism circuit but also for nature lovers.
Narasimha Aranyam and Anjaneya Aranyam, two eco-tourism parks that were recently inaugurated in the Raigiri reserve blocks and located less than three kms from the famed Yadadri Laxmi Narasimha Swamy temple, are major attractions not only for the devotees visiting the shrine but also for those looking for peace in the woods.
The two theme parks are part of the Yadadri Temple Town Project by the State government. The famous temple, which is under renovation now, is just 60 kms away from the State capital and is expected to emerge as the spiritual capital of Telangana State once the development works are completed.
Speaking to Telangana Today, District Forest Officer D Venkateshwar Reddy said the State government took up the initiative to develop the temple as a premier shrine, a cultural centre and as a centre of temple tourism, and also link tourism activities with it by creating the two theme parks in forest areas in the vicinity.
“It took the Forest Department two years to complete the works on Narasimha and Anjaneya Aranyams. About 40,770 saplings were planted in Anjaneya Aranyam and 23,000 plants in Narsimha Aranyam,” he said, adding that the idea was to make the area look evergreen besides improving bio-diversity in the area. “The plantations were taken up based on the locations’ suitability,” he said.
The Narasimha Aranyam, developed in 97.12 hectares in the Raigiri reserve forest block, is just 2.5 kms away from the temple. The forest block is locally popular as Mallanna Gutta and it has a temple with a ‘Koneru’ (temple pond) on top of the hillock. A part of the park has been developed as Abhayaranyam with the theme based on sacred animals, besides a deer rescue centre. An amphi-theatre with lawns is another major attraction in the eco-tourism park.
The park is ideal for nature camps and Vana Darshan for school students, with sections of animal dens, sacred animals, view points and deer rescue centre being the unique attractions in Narasimha Aranyam.
Anjaneya Aranyam was developed in Raigiri-I reserve forest block in 56.65 hectares by the Forest Department at a cost of Rs 2.83 crore and it is similar to Narasimha Aranyam. The highlight is that it was developed to project the characteristics of southern tropical thorn forest.
The entry plaza for the Anjaneya Aranyam is based on the theme of nature, that entices people even as it raises their curiosity of what is inside in what is essentially an urban lung space. The visitors zone in Anjaneya Aranyam was developed in a way that it would facilitate educating and creating awareness among the public about the ecological system.
Medicinal, flowering and fruit yielding trees have been planted in the visitors zone area. The conservation zone in the park would be open for organising study tours and education programmes on nature by educational institutions and organisations. Theme-based planting was taken up in the visitors zone to showcase biodiversity.
The Anjaneya Aranyam also has a gazebo, walking tracks, theme parks, selfie point, waterfall, rock gardens, ‘Bahubali’ watch tower and nature trails that make it a perfect destination for nature lover who will get a feel of visiting a forest.
The entry fee for the two eco-tourism parks has been fixed at Rs 20 for adults and Rs 10 for children. And there are more such parks in the pipeline, says Venkateshwar Reddy. “Yadadri-Bhongir district has about 37 forest blocks covering a total area of 11,733 hectare which is about 3.8 per cent of the total geographical area of the district. There are plans to take up urban forest parks at Lakkaram, Somajipally, Choutuppal, Bibinagar, Kondamadugu, Jalalpur, Parvathapur and Rachakonda,” he added.
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