The Best Ecotourism Destinations To Visit In India For World Environment Day 2024

If you are looking to spend your money on authentic experiences, hit up these six destinations where you will make unforgettable memories while supporting the local economy and environment
A weaver on her handloom creating a Maheshwari saree
A weaver on her handloom creating a Maheshwari sareePradeepGaurs/

As World Environment Day 2024 draws nearer, it is a reminder that the world we are living in is changing before our eyes. The work of reordering how we work, live and travel has become more urgent and important due to climate breakdown. Luckily, ecotourism is becoming more and more popular as travellers seek to limit their impact on the planet and travel more consciously. This means living and eating locally, respecting the norms of their destination, and reducing their material consumption.

Here are six places in India where residents and administrations welcome travellers looking for a sustainable travel experience that benefits the local community and respects the natural landscape.


A living root bridge at Mawlynnong
A living root bridge at MawlynnongJim W Kasom/

Mawlynnong village in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya has gained a reputation for being one of the cleanest villages in Asia but it is much more than that. Its fruit orchards, streams, evergreen surroundings, swaying palms and traditional customs make it one of the top ecotourism destinations in India.

Perhaps its most famous icon is the Nohwet living root bridge, which was created by weaving the roots of a rubber tree (ficus elastica) around a framework and continuing this process for generations. Living root bridges are emblematic of traditional Khasi architecture and were important for the villages in the steep valleys and mountains, helping people to connect with one another. The bridges only get stronger as they grow older. Guides from the village show visitors how living root bridges are formed and allow them to try intertwining the roots.

Furthermore, the Khasi tribes live a sustainable lifestyle by recycling waste, harvesting rainwater, using solar energy and not using plastic. Visitors to Mawlynnong will get to sample authentic Khasi cuisine like jadoh (red rice cooked with meat), dal, tungrymbai (fermented soybean), dohkhlieh (boiled pork salad with ginger and onion), tungtap (dried fish chutney) and more. There are local vegetarian restaurants for those with differing dietary needs.

Getting There

Shillong Airport (103km) and the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati (190km)—which also has the closest railway station—are nearest to Mawlynnong. Get to the village by bus or taxi.


A pathway through the trees in Thenmala
A pathway through the trees in ThenmalaArun C Thilak/

Home to the first planned ecotourism destination in India, Thenmala in Kerala is dotted with forests, rubber and tree plantations. Its name means “honey hill” so it comes as no surprise that the area is known for its high-quality honey. From boat rides and leisurely walks to adventure sports like mountain biking and rock climbing, visitors can make the most of their holiday here. Visit the Thenmala Dam, the Deer Rehabilitation Centre, the Leisure Zone and Sculpture Garden, and spend a night at one of the tree huts for a unique forest living experience.

Getting There

Sengottai Railway Station (30km) and Kollam Railway Station (65km) are nearest to Thenmala. Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is 74km away. Take a bus or taxi from any of these places to reach Thenmala.


The Blyth's tragopan
The Blyth's tragopanSupriyo Ghoshal/

With a claim to fame like Asia’s first green village due to a ban on logging activities, the centuries-old Khonoma village in Nagaland offers tourists the opportunity to interact with the people of the Angami Naga tribe and learn about their sustainable lifestyle. The Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) was set up in 1998 to protect the endangered Blyth’s tragopan and other wildlife and rare plant species in their natural habitat. Over the last two decades, bird enthusiasts from around the world have come to Khonoma just to spend their days watching and listening to them. The village is also known for being one of the cleanest in Nagaland thanks to the availability of dustbins and public toilets.

Getting There

Take a bus or taxi to Khonoma from Dimapur Airport (71km) or Dimapur Railway Station (76km).

Araku Valley

Grower Badnaini Subdramma who works on a coffee plantation
Grower Badnaini Subdramma who works on a coffee plantationArakuCoffee/Facebook

The Araku Valley of Andhra Pradesh is a popular weekend getaway for visitors to savour being among pine trees, green meadows and views of the rolling Ananthagiri Hills while experiencing a distinct tribal culture. The residents have won numerous awards for their sustainably-grown coffee which provides them with an economic lifeline. Visit the Borra Caves for their spectacular stalactites and stalagmites, the Tribal Museum, the Coffee Museum, the Padmapuram Gardens and try bamboo chicken, a local delicacy.

Getting There

The closest airport is in Visakhapatnam (107km). Araku has a railway station (ARK) which you can reach from Visakhapatnam (VSKP), 111km away. Hire a bus or taxi to the Araku Valley from Visakhapatnam.

Spiti Valley

The Dhankar Monastery in Spiti
The Dhankar Monastery in Spitiatagriorenan/

Pronounced “piti” in the Stod Bhoti language, the Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh lies around 4,100m above sea level. Its dry landscape, monasteries, gorgeous valleys and lakes, friendly locals, and quiet villages have made it a popular destination with tourists all over India. The residents practise a community-based tourism approach wherein economic opportunities are balanced with the need to preserve cultural and natural resources. The Spiti Ecosphere provides trekking and travel programs which directly support the livelihoods of the people there. Stay in homestays and get to know your hosts and their neighbours, respect the living world by taking back your trash with you or disposing it at proper facilities, check out the Ladarcha Fair in July and August where goods are bartered and sold, go on treks to the Pin Parvati Pass and Chandra Taal Lake, and visit the Key and Tabo monasteries.

Getting There

Take a bus, car or taxi from Bhuntar Airport (227km) and Jogindernagar Railway Station (338km) to Spiti. Shimla is further away from the Spiti Valley but is a reliable transport hub.


A Maheshwari saree from the Rehwa Society
A Maheshwari saree from the Rehwa Societyrehwasociety/Facebook

On the banks of the Narmada River is Maheshwar, the erstwhile capital of the Maratha Empire in the 18th century and a hub of handloom weaving since the 5th century. This town in Madhya Pradesh produces Maheshwari sarees and fabrics, which are traditionally made from pure silk. Over time, cotton became one of the major fibres used for these exquisitely designed pieces. The art form struggled to stay alive during the Independence era but around 1979, a weaving project involving the local women was formed to revive it. They named it the Rehwa Society. On your trip to Maheshwar, support this local industry by picking up sarees in various colours and patterns for the people in your life.

Visitors should also check out the beautiful architecture of the town through heritage (Narmada Ghat, Ahilyabai Temple, Maheshwar Fort, Rajwada) and culinary walks (dal bafle is not to be missed).

Getting There

Maheshwar is 95km from Indore. Take a bus or taxi to cover the distance.

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