Friday, May 2, 2008

Chug into Vidarbha to spot tigers

Shweta Karnik
Friday, May 02, 2008 03:20 IST

MTDC will introduce toy trains to take tourists on a tour of the dense jungles from Nagpur to Tadoba

Picture this. A journey aboard a luxurious toy train through scenic forests of Vidarbha, right into the tiger territory.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), in collaboration with the Indian Railways, has readied a toy train that will take tourists to the dense jungles in the interiors of Nagpur, which are home to the endangered tiger. The corporation has tentatively planned to inaugurate this train on May 9.

The state government had asked its forest department to chalk out a policy to boost eco-tourism in Maharashtra. Last year, state’s minister for tourism Suresh Shetty had told DNA that besides exploring the thick jungles in the state, they were also planning a highly decked-up narrow gauge toy train for Nagpur. “It will be designed in such a way that it becomes one of the heritage trains,” he had said.

The toy train will chug from Nagpur to Pench, and go almost up to Tadoba. “This train would give tourists a closer look at nature’s beauty. There is potential to develop these trips into tiger safaris,” Shetty said.

MTDC has entered into an agreement with Central Railways to use the narrow gauge toy train that was lying idle. The train was generally used for local commuting in Tadoba and its adjacent areas.

“We decided to make use of this toy train looking at the success of the toy train to Matheran,” a senior MTDC official said. With the the target audience being high-end tourists and international visitors, the train’s interiors have been designed on the lines of Deccan Odyssey to suit such customers’ needs. It will be a two or three coach air-conditioned train.

Besides, MTDC will also provide open jeeps for tourists to take them farther into the interiors of the jungles. However, unlike the Deccan Odyssey, this toy train does not
have accommodation facilities for tourists.

They will be lodged at the MTDC’s resorts at respective junctions. When asked about the direct connectivity from Mumbai, the official said, “People will have to travel to Nagpur to enjoy the toy train safari. However, if the plan gains momentum, we might tie up with airlines to carry tourists to from Mumbai to Nagpur for the safari.”


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