Soon, the coastal belt of Sindhudurg could offer house boats, floating cottages, glass-bottomed boats and resorts in royal palaces for tourists.
The Maharashtra government’s proposal to promote Sindhudurg as a coastal tourism circuit, under the Central government’s Swadesh Darshan programme, has got in-principal approval.
Once passed by the Centre, the project will receive funds of Rs 150 crore, which the state plans to use to make four regions in the district attractive to tourists, especially those visiting the nearby Goa.
Under the scheme, the Maharashtra tourism department has proposed upgrading the forts that dot the Sindhudurg area, along with the beaches, and also providing better infrastructure, amenities and accommodation facilities.
Plans are in the pipeline to convert Nivati fort at Malvan into cottages, and set up of resorts and restaurants at Sawantwadi palace. Four helipads, including a floating helipad in the sea at Tarkarli, have been proposed.
“The coastal belt has been split into four sub-circuits, Vijaydurg, Devgad, Tarkarli and Shiroda-Sawantwadi. Each of them has beaches and forts, which will be explored and developed for tourism,” said Parag Jain Nainuttia, managing director of Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
The government is talking to the queen of the Sawantwadi palace for her permission to open resort and restaurants on the 30,000-square feet palace premises, on the lines of the similar projects in Rajasthan.
Besides the snorkeling and scuba diving that are already popular among tourists at Tarkarli, the MTDC has proposed house boats, floating cottages, log huts and glass-bottomed boats for the area.
“We have had two meetings with the officials from central tourism ministry. According to our proposal, the cost of the project, which has to be completed in one-and-a-half years, is Rs 178 crore. After an in-principal approval from the ministry, a team of officers will visit the sub-circuits on August 17 and 18. We may have to snip some proposals and bring the cost between Rs140 and Rs150 crore,” another official from the tourism department said.
The Swadesh Darshan programme:
* Centre’s scheme: In the 2014-15 budget, the Centre proposed developing tourist circuits across the county, and made provisions to fund them
* What are Tourist circuits: Tourist circuits have been defined as routes on which at least three major tourist attractions are located. While these destinations have to be close to each other, they should not be in the same town, city or village
* Themes: Twelve themes have been identified for development initially – North-East India Circuit, Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit, Desert Circuit, Tribal Circuit, Eco Circuit, Wildlife Circuit, Rural Circuit, Spiritual Circuit and Ramayana. The Sindhudurga region falls under the Coastal Circuit.
What the state has planned
* The Sindhudurg cicuit has been split into four sub-circuits: Vijaydurg, Devgad, Tarkarli and Shiroda-Sawantwadi
* Upgrading basic amenities: Improving connectivity, building enough toilets and changing rooms, restaurants and better accommodation facilities
* Attractions: Glass-bottomed boats for marine tourism, four houseboats, floating cottages, log huts are likely to be some of the attractions on offer for tourists
* In the Tarkarli sub-circuit, Nivali fort at Malvan is to be converted into cottages. The tourism department has received permission for it after the fort was transferred to them by the revenue department.
* In the Shiroda-Sawantwadi circuit, Sawantwadi palace is likely to have resorts and restaurants on its 30,000-square feet palace premises, on the lines of palaces in Rajasthan. Talks on with the queen of Sawantwadi to get her permission.