Astro tourism resorts hot destination for city dwellers

Residents of Delhi, for whom Sariska has always been a favoured destination, are now clearly spoilt for choice.
Astro tourism resorts hot destination for city dwellers

NEW DELHI: The night sky has remained a source of fascination for people for thousands of years. In the post-pandemic era, adventure enthusiasts are taking their love and fascination for stargazing to a whole new level, thanks to ‘astro tourism’, which allows nature buffs to travel to remote areas to indulge in stargazing under pollution-free skies, experience the beauty of the night sky and marvel at the vastness of the universe.

From the latter half of 2021 to now, there has been a huge spike in people opting for astro tourism, say industry experts.

“After travel resumed post-pandemic, we have noticed a 30-40% rise in interest among travellers,” says Sachin Bahmba, founder of Delhi-based Space India, an educational initiative set up in 2004 to demystify astronomy, space, and astrophysics for school and college students.

In 2017, Bahmba partnered with Shakti Singh Nathawat (35), a former software engineer firm and son of a forest officer, to develop Astroport Sariska ‘Treetop’ by Eight Continents, an astronomy and adventure camp about 2.5 hour drive away from the capital on the Sohna-Dausa expressway. It lies on the fringes of Sariska Tiger Reserve in Alwar district, part of the national capital territory, nestled in the midst of the Aravallis.

“The sky above Sariska is a Class 4 space on Bortle scale, implying that it’s a rural/sub-urban transition sky with impressive views of the Milky Way. A city like Delhi, by contrast, falls in category 8 or 9, making it near impossible to indulge in star gazing here,” said Nathawat. The resort offers guided astronomy experiences that involve stargazing, deep-sky-object-hunting (nebulae, etc) and solar observation; and wildlife tours within the reserve.

“Similar hotels are coming up in Jaisalmer and Bundi. The Bundi resort would replicate the ‘stars and stripes’ theme of the Sariska resort, being in the vicinity of the Ramgarh Vishdhari Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Nathawat.

Another destination which is growing in popularity is Ladakh, says Sonal Asgotraa, founder of Astrostays that has developed astro-tourism resorts in villages of Maan and Phyang – on the banks of Pangong Lake.
“We have created Cosmo Hubs which provides independent astro tourism experience, run by local women from Phyang who have been trained to handle telescopes and read skies. It also brings along gastronomical and local culture visits along with,” she said.

She added that plans are afoot to set up such centres in the northeast as well.Residents of Delhi, for whom Sariska has always been a favoured destination, are now clearly spoilt for choice.

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The New Indian Express