If you’re looking for “responsible travel India” or “sustainable travel India,” you’ve come to the right place. This guide to eco-friendly tourism in India explores the environmental and ethical concerns for those who wish to visit this incredible subcontinent without causing harm to its wondrous peoples and landscapes, while we examine India’s top 10 green travel destinations.
By Ruma Dey Baidya of The Holiday Story
Sustainable Travel in India
India is a country of diverse landscapes and cultures. Its rich biodiversity has allowed the rapid growth of sustainable tourism associated with green travel destinations.
Green travel, also known as eco-tourism, is a lifestyle choice that one adopts while traveling to reduce their carbon footprints. It’s a great way to explore nature while healing it simultaneously. Tourists must be responsible for their actions and conscious of the environment.
For further reading, see The Holiday Story’s complete India Tour Guide
Also visit Laure Wanders for a complete guide to visiting the richly diverse country of India. As a solo female traveller, Laure has a unique perspective and captures her experiences through beautiful photography and immersive stories.
Wander With Jo also heaps a huge section on travel around India, with beautiful articles such as the Travel Guide to Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary, Gangtok, Sikkim.
Top 10 Green Travel Destinations in India
Given below is a list of ten green travel destinations in India.
Mawlynnong Village, Meghalaya
Mawlynnong Village of Meghalaya was announced as Asia’s cleanest village in 2003.
It’s located in the East Khasi Hills at a distance of 90 km from the state capital Shillong. Locals take active participation in keeping the village clean and beautiful. Plastic is wholly banned here, and smoking is also prohibited. The entire village has facilitated the use of bamboo dustbins to collect litter. All villagers and tourists are supposed to follow these rules strictly. Any defaulters are heavily charged.
This village also stands out in having a hundred percent literacy rate, and most villagers can converse in English.
The main inhabitants of Mawlynnong are the Khasi tribe, who follow a matriarchal society. Its location on the Indo-Bangladesh border provides a mesmerizing view of lush greenery.
Monsoon is the best time to visit Mawlynnong village.
Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim
The Khangchendzonga National Park is a well-known UNESCO World Heritage site of Sikkim.
You can cover the distance between this National park and Gangtok in a four-hour drive. It’s a part of the Himalayan global diversity hotspot and home to many indigenous plant and animal species. The park is built around the third highest mountain peak in the world, Kanchenjunga.
There are lush green valleys, glaciers, lakes, and caves inside the national park. Visitors are instructed to maintain cleanliness inside the park and should not litter or disturb the vegetation inside by plucking leaves or flowers. Travelers should discard nonbiodegradable items outside the park.
Thenmala is India’s first-ever eco-tourism center.
It spreads across the hills of Kollam and Trivandrum regions of Kerala. It lies at a distance of 70 km from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram.
The term Thenmala means “honey hill,” as the region is known for producing superior quality, honey. The livelihoods of locals depend on forest provided products like honey and rubber.
It’s a major tourist spot in the state. The main attraction is the Thenmala dam. Tourists are encouraged to indulge in environment-friendly activities like boating, rock climbing, and trekking. Huts inside the woods allow tourists to spend the night in the forest depths.
Winters in southern India are mild and comforting; thus, it’s the best time to explore this green travel destination.
Khonoma Village, Nagaland
The Khonoma Village of Nagaland used to be a well-known hunting spot.
The majority of the inhabitants of this village depended on hunting birds and wild animals as their source of livelihood. However, near the end of the 1990s, the government banned hunting in this region. Since then, the village has gradually developed into India’s first green village.
It mainly formed the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary to protect the Blyth’s Tragopan, a native endangered species. The sanctuary encompasses a total area of 70 sq km and contains a variety of flora and fauna. The majority of the population here is part of the Angami tribe.
The tribe believes in preserving trees and keeping their lands clean, gathering all their waste in one place and burning them. Tourism is promoted through activities like trekking and camping.
Coorg is a hill station nestled within the Western Ghats of Karnataka.
Its misty hills, great green valleys, and rolling plains are a wonder of nature that mesmerizes tourists. It’s located at a distance of 252 km from the state capital Bangalore.
It’s the home to Nagarhole National Park, a haven of beautiful plants and animal species. Coffee and cardamom plantations are also prominent here. There are several rivers and waterfalls in Coorg. Exploring the backwaters of Kaveri is an important tourist activity.
The pleasant South Indian weather and picturesque scenery make it a favorite vacation place for tourists. Tourism in Coorg is mainly about admiring and respecting nature.
Sitlakhet is a beautiful hill station in Almora, Uttarakhand. This Himalayan hamlet is known for its picturesque Kumaon scenery and serenity.
Sitlakhet is an up-and-coming tourist spot located near the famous Ranikhet. There is no shortage of greenery here. Trekkers are the primary visitors to this region. The easy to moderate level trekking routes make it easier for beginners to try this new challenge.
All other activities here are also eco-friendly. People from the city visit Sitlakhet for a relaxed and soulful vacation devoid of any city pollution.
Daringbadi is a part of the Eastern Ghats in Odisha, located in the Kandhamal district, which is 251 km from the capital city of Bhubaneswar. This hill station is filled with tiny green hills and hillocks, rivers, and waterfalls. Pine and sal trees are dominant in this area.
You can also find coffee plantations here. The natural beauty of Daringbadi has gained the nickname of Kashmir of Odisha, and it’s the face of Odisha’s green travel destinations. There are several parks and reserves made to preserve nature.
The local communities have built nature camps all over the place to educate visitors about the region’s natural resources. The early winter months are the ideal time to visit Daringbadi.
Pondicherry, Tamil Nadu
Pondicherry was a French colonial settlement till 1954.
This pristine town on India’s west coast is now a major United Territory of the country. Its sandy beaches, deep blue ocean, and cultural diversity attract tourists from all over the world. Its roads and buildings still represent the essence of its earlier French settlement.
Tourists are urged to rent bicycles to explore the town in an eco-friendly way. You can spend your day participating in water activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, and more.
Pondicherry is also a well-known spiritual retreat. Places like Aurobindo Ashram, Manakula Vinayagar Temple, and Sacred Heart of Jesus church provide calm and serenity to visitors.
Majuli is the world’s largest river island on the Brahmaputra in Assam.
The distance between Majuli and the state capital Guwahati is 347 km. Its picturesque scenery of rural India attracts people from all over the world.
This freshwater island is a pollution-free region that promotes sustainable tourism. The island was brought under the spotlight recently as it was on the verge of submerging due to rapid erosion. The local government has announced a ban on single-use plastic on the island. Apart from the scenic beauty, the island also has several cultural and religious buildings.
The small hill station Matheran is in Raigad, Maharashtra.
It’s a part of the Sahyadri Hills of the Western Ghats and a biodiversity hotspot in India. The capital city Mumbai lies at a distance of 80 km. Matheran means the ‘forest on the forehead’ in English.
The forest-covered hills of Matheran keep pollution out of its boundaries, thus creating a quiet, clean summer retreat. It was also announced as an eco-sensitive area by the Ministry of Environment.
Visitors can experience trekking, bird watching, and other nature-friendly activities here. Visit Charlotte Lake for some breathtaking views.