Velavadar was on my travel list since so many years but I never had a chance to visit that place. It's such a tiny place with so much potential to explore. Very rich in wild and bird life but very poor in Hospitality services.
I wanted to have a companion for this trip so at last I offered my friend Dinesh to come along and he agreed happily. Another friend Raag Patel in Ahemedabad arranged the transport to Velavadar and made our visit possible.
Accommodation in Velavadar is limited. I wont say it poor but if you are not use to of eating a very monotonus food then you may land in deep trouble.
At Forest rest House Menu for dinner and breakfast remains the same . If you are late for few minutes then demand for extra roti may get declined with an excuse that cook has left the premises few minutes before. They do serve Tea and meals spot on time but the man who issues entry permit do not have any understanding about the value of time in wildlife viewing. I curse him both mornings. First morning I had to get him out of his bed at 0730. These are the most negative part for promoting tourism in the state.
Attitude of Gujarat Forest Department about Tourism is no different than any other state. They want tourism but they treat it as an extra burden on their life style. And what tourist thinks about it, only a local saying in Hindi can describe it best Doodh diya bhi to mengni daal ke. (a goat always drops it droppings in milk while you are milking her)
Do they (Forest Department all over the country) know that all the rules they make never works in favour of wildlife and the country. Recently I mentioned it in one of my letter that Kaziranga is loosing it's Rhino and country is loosing it's name and tourism only because of rules implied by the forest department otherwise why same numbers of Rhino are not poached in Chitwan?
I strongly object on Camera fee.
Tourist Cameras should be free and there should be a nominal charge on Professional camera's. One should realise the benefit park gets from a photo published or a film released. In both the cases park does not pays a single penny in getting that kind of publicity. So what they do in return? Literally nothing to promote conservation through tourism. Tourism policy changes in parks from man to man.
We did not see many Buzzards or Eagles in the park and nor any scavenger. Blackbucks were there in abundance but disturbance to them from labour and Indian Tourists who got selfie craze was very high. We saw so many Indian Tourists coming out of their car to photograph themselves with animals in background. It was very annoying. Same guide who was criticizing the act while sitting in our car and while sitting with some other Tourists was allowing them to get down from the car. Once we were waiting for 30 minutes or so for some action. Animals were grazing quite close by and suddenly a car comes, saw the opportunity of selfie and they all came out of the car. They must have got some blackbucks running away in their picture. We lost the opportunity and morning altogether so we decided to come back and pack.
As I said earlier we did not see any hyena, jackal or wolf in the park and for this Guides blame availability of water in river.
Management in Velavadar / Gujarat / Country needs to be more tourism friendly. They need to understand that Tourist wants the same what they get when they visit a park with their friends and family. We had to wait till 0800 AM on 9th Feb while a car was entering the park at 0655. On enquiring I was told they were some friends / family members of some forest official from Ahemedabad. Tourist should be allowed to enter or exit the park at the time when one is able to drive the car without using headlights. This is what we did for years while visiting the parks in 1970's and 80's and even till late 90's. I am sure one day public will have sense to ask If we are not allowed to see our national heritage then why we are saving it, that too from public money.
Major Wildlife what you are seeing today in the country is because of that contribution of Tourism in wildlife conservation.
People in Velavadar village needs to understand the potential of Tourism income. Someone needs to teach them to start Home Stay in their houses.