India’s rich biodiversity offers visitors an unforgettable experience. With vast natural diversity on offer – beaches to backwaters, hills to deserts, wetlands to caves, wildlife sanctuaries to abundant flora and fauna – India serves as a rich eco-friendly tourist destination. One can visit the length and breadth of the country to discover gems where one can experience the local culture along the laps of nature.

Here are five eco-friendly places you must-visit when you find yourself in India:

Thenmala, Kerala

Thenmala
Thenmala

When we speak of eco-friendly places in India, Thenmala in Kerala must be on the list. Thenmala is India’s first planned eco-tourism destination. Divided into three zones, the culture zone is for the food enthusiasts to eat the local cuisine, the adventure zone is for the brave hearted who want to try activities such as rapelling and rock climbing while the leisure zone is for those souls who love to walk. Thenmala’s location in the Western Ghats makes it popular among tourists. The natural beauty of rivers, waterfalls, lush greenery and hillocks are a major draw. With the Chenduruny wildlife sanctuary nearby, this place is a haven for visitors who want to discover the natural beauty of India.

Matheran, Maharashtra

Courtesy MTDC
Matheran's many lookout points offer gorgeous views
Matheran’s many lookout points offer gorgeous views

The hill station of Matheran has been declared an eco-sensitive area by the Ministry of Environment. The pollution-free place is a sight for sore eyes, located about 2500 feet above sea level. Walk around the area as you discover places like Prabal Fort and Charlotte’s Lake. The fort itself is wonderful to explore with its hidden secrets. Then a picnic by the lake and a visit to the ancient Pisarnath temple is worth the while.

Kumbalangi, Kerala

Courtesy Wikipedia
An island in Kumbalangi
An island in Kumbalangi

The Kumbalangi integrated tourism village project is 15km away from Kochi and one of the best islands to explore the culture and heritage of Kerala. The tiny fishing hamlet has been transformed into a tourist spot keeping in mind rural eco tourism. Visitors are encouraged to stay in local homestays and visit Kalagramam or the artists’ village. One can devour local fish delicacies freshly caught after watching the sun set beyond the Chinese fishing nets.

Coorg, Karnataka

Saibal Das
Emerald-green jungle around Abbi falls after the monsoon
Emerald-green jungle around Abbi falls after the monsoon

The rich flora and fauna of Coorg has earned the hill station international recognition. Called the Scotland of India, Coorg’s misty hills, lush greenery, rapid rivers and roaring waterfalls and roaring lions at the Nagarhole National Park make the hill station perfect for the eco-tourist. Don’t forget to indulge in coffee tasting in the many plantations and eat local produce to enjoy an authentic experience.

Mawlynnong, Meghalaya

Waterfalls, a common sight in the hills around Mawlynnong
Waterfalls, a common sight in the hills around Mawlynnong

The cleanest village in all of Asia is rich in biodiversity. Situated in the East Khasi hills and about 90km from Shillong, the village has bamboo dustbins all over to pick up rubbish as all inhabitants are pretty big on cleanliness. There is so much natural beauty and after the monsoons, the lush greenery is a big draw. Waterfalls and streams make it very picturesque. When visiting Mawlynnong, one can also trek up to the famous living root bridge nearby!