While the civic infrastructure in Kodagu is crumbling, it is estimated that the number of tourists visiting the popular holiday destination is expected to cross 35 lakh this year.
This is a nightmarish situation for the local inhabitants of Kodagu who are already suffering due to traffic jams, problems of waste disposal, drinking water shortage and the bad roads.
Unless the government wakes up to the challenge by stepping up the infrastructure bottlenecks, the local population and the tourists will be put to a lot hardship.
With its postcard-perfect settings, pleasant climes and green environs, Kodagu is a dream destination for holiday goers. No wonder then that the ‘Scotland of India’ is seeing an influx of visitors. While the average number of tourists hovers around 25 lakh a year, this year may spring a surprise. “The number may cross 35 lakh,” says V Paneesh, assistant director of the tourism department, says the Times of India in a report from Mysuru.
However, tour organizers and home stay owners feel the department should work out a comprehensive plan to manage the crowd of visitors as they foresee problems in waste disposal, transport and infrastructure apart from civic and administrative hassles. They also want the government to encourage resorts and home stays and ease laws to cope with the increasing tourist inflow
The department itself is taken aback at this unprecedented footfall and interest in the hilly district. For, the infrastructural facilities in Kodagu provided by the government are no match for the flood of tourists. But the growing number of home stays set up by locals has somewhat offset the government’s apathy. While 249 home stays are registered, a recent drive by the administration to persuade more home stay owners to legalize their business has upped the number to 477. In addition, there are more than unregistered 1,500 home stays doing brisk business. Vinitha Karumbaiah, secretary of the Kodagu Home Stay Association, said this year saw heavy tourist rush during October.
While tourists rave about the scenic splendours of Kodagu, they wish more attention is paid to infrastructure too. Home stays should be regulated to avoid exploitation of visitors, says Pallavi Abhishek Majumdar, a tourist from north India staying in a Madikeri home stay. Regular buses should be arranged for tourists with guides to visit the spots, she adds.
KSTDC MD P S Harsha says the department has commenced trial bus trips from Madikeri to Abby Falls and Talacauvery and assured to introduce more buses to other tourist spots depending on the demand.
Why Kodagu beckons?
What makes Kodagu attractive for tourists is that it has something for everyone, be it adventure tourism, temples, historical places or wildlife parks. Some of the popular spots include Talacauvery, Bhagamandala, Abbey Falls, Madikeri fort, Raja’s Seat, Omkareshwara temple, Nalaknad fort and Chelavara Falls near Napoklu, Dubare elephant camp and river rafting centre, Nisargadhama, golden temple at the nearby Tibetan settlement, Irpu Falls and Nagarhole National Park in South Kodagu, Mallalli Falls and Pushpagiri hills in Somwarpet taluk.
Tourist inflow to Kodagu is bound to multiply in the coming years for various reasons. As it shares the border with Kerala and is landlocked by coastal Dakshina Kannada district and Hassan and Mysuru cities, it’s a hop-over destination for many. That other historic and tourist-driven cities like Mysuru and Hassan are within reach makes it even attractive.
The commissioning of international airport in Kerala’s Kannur, 95 km from Madikeri, is also expected to boost tourism here. “Once this airport gets commissioned in mid 2016, tourist numbers will rise drastically,” says Paneesh, adding that tourists who fly in now have to come via Bengaluru or Mangaluru, which are far from Kodagu.
However, tour organizers and home stay owners feel the department should work out a comprehensive plan to manage the crowd of visitors as they foresee problems in waste disposal, transport and infrastructure apart from civic and administrative hassles. They also want the government to encourage resorts and home stays and ease laws to cope with the increasing tourist inflow.