Fillip to scenic cycle tours in India
One of the most scenic cycling tours in this part of the world, the Tour of Nilgiris covers more than 800 km across South India. The eighth edition to be organised from Dec 16-23, 2015 covering the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu will see the riders pass through wildlife sanctuaries of Bandipur, Wayanad and Mudumalai. “Tour of Nilgiris has eight continuous days of amazing scenes, routes, etc. The beauty of the tour is that it takes you closer to the wilderness. We are now coming up with a shorter three day tour format covering some of the amazing and exotic locations of India including tea / coffee plantations. Five destinations have already been finalised for 12 shorter routes that will be launched next year,” said Sridhar Pabbisetty, co founder of Tour of Nilgiris and Breakaway Sports which organises these cycling tours.
Five destinations have been finalised and two trails identified. “We are building infrastructure around the trails. It takes us about half a year to set that up,” he added. The new tours will also include some extreme category events that will test the riders’ mountain biking skills.
Pabbisetty believes that eco tourism will evolve in the country when cycling tours are encouraged and becomes mainstream. “We would like to see 50 such tours happening across India and ensure the growth of this eco tourism segment. For this to happen we encourage people to do cycling tours in different forms and places. We have groomed people to help them put together tours suitable for their own setting. One such tour that we have mentored is the ‘Tour of Kumaon’,” he said, adding that they have been been supporting riders from the state.
Most of the riders are amateurs who have trained for over a period of time. Almost 15 per cent of those participating in the Tour of Nilgiris are from overseas. According to Pabbisetty, while Karnataka Tourism has positively responded there has not been much headway with other tourism departments in terms of support over the years. “Those who have made a difference are small food vendors and hotels where the cyclists stay. The food habits of a cyclist are very different from that of a regular tourist. These hotels have gone out of their way to accommodate the dietary needs of the riders,” he said. The launch of new scenic cycle tours is an interesting new opportunity that the Indian travel trade industry should explore.