Bhubaneswar: The group of four who went on an expedition to discover and trace the Waterfalls of Odisha, are back in town. They shared their experience with OST, and here’s a sneak peek along with some pictures they shared!
Q. How was your experience?
A. We got a chance to visit almost 23 districts of Odisha in this trip; although our stay was brief we can say that Odisha is filled with treasures of nature. Our trip was a lot easier and enjoyable because of the smooth road network of our state. Odisha has a lot more to offer and it surely is the soul of India.
Q. Tell me about the challenges you faced during this trip.
A. Other than the depressing weather conditions at several places, it was a smooth affair. We wished to have spent more time in the waterfalls to properly document or photograph them but we didn’t have the luxury of time and perfect weather condition.
Q. How do you think this will help boost Odisha’s tourism?
A. We have a detailed documentation of these 35 Waterfalls and we are currently in talks with Odisha Tourism department on how this can be taken further to attract more tourists to these sites. We will provide free access to this information for general public shortly.
Q. What do you plan on doing next, for Odisha and tourism?
A. There are many other projects in our mind, but then we would like to finish the current project first. Odisha has so many areas that can attract domestic and international tourists. We will try to highlight them.
Q. How threatened, do you think Odisha’s environment is?
A. Odisha is as threatened as any other place in the world today when it comes to extraction and exploitation of natural resources. Things need to be checked and people have to understand that this is not a sustainable practice. Firewood extraction from forests, rampant mining, careless littering etc shows our disregard for the natural treasures we have in our possession.
Q. What are the unexplored spots you discovered?
A. Alkudar in Mayurbhanj, Khandadhar, Tenteinali and Putugharghaghi in Keonjhar – these waterfalls are mostly known to the local people only.
Q. What needs to be done to put the state on tourists’ preferred list of destinations?
A. For a state like Odisha, tourism industry needs should be given higher priority and we have to understand that this can be a sustainable tool for holistic development, unlike mining.
As a start, we have an excellent road connectivity to all the spots. A bit more of promotion, active involvement of the local public and administration and having proper accommodation facility would help tourists to visit Odisha more frequently.
We also were bothered by the habit of “picnickers” in Odisha who never think twice before littering these pristine places.
Q. Has the tourism potential been tapped to its merit?
A. Not yet.
Tourism potential is counted on the number of visitors we have; unless those numbers are satisfactory we can’t really comment on it. We need to attract all kinds of visitors to the state and for that proper infrastructure needs to be built. Local people need to be sensitized and trained towards the requirement of tourists.
Q. Rate Odisha on pan India basis.
A. In terms of potential, Odisha stands shoulder to shoulder with any other state with high tourist inflow but in terms of providing the required facility, it has a long way to go.
Q. What are the infrastructural deficiencies that ail the sector?
A. Proper accommodation, information regarding tourist places, trained guides and a thoughtful approach to develop tourist places.