Ratnagiri
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Want to visit a hill station, but go beyond the usual Matheran, Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar circuit? Soon, the state might have a new hill station in the Sahyadris, at Machal in Ratnagiri.
Want to visit a hill station, but go beyond the usual Matheran, Lonavala and Mahabaleshwar circuit? Soon, the state might have a new hill station in the Sahyadris, at Machal in Ratnagiri.
The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is keen on developing Machal in Lanja taluka as a popular tourist destination.
 
"Machal is a little-known village, around 400 km from Mumbai. We are planning to develop it as a hill station by providing basic facilities like approach roads, training of locals and promoting bread-and-breakfast facilities," said a senior official from the MTDC.
 
He added that there was a need for the state to catalyse the development of new hill stations to take tourists beyond usual sites like Khandala and Amboli, which were gradually getting saturated. Moreover, most of these hill stations were developed during the colonial era, with little development taking place post-Independence.
 
The official said that Machal houses around 400 people. "Though we would prefer homestays which will provide a unique experience for tourists, we may consider developing resorts on a joint venture or public-private partnership (PPP) basis, if entrepreneurs are interested," he said.
 
MTDC may also seek to evolve a set of rules that have been implemented in Matheran to avoid Machal, which is located in the Western Ghats, from falling prey to mindless development. "This may include stringent restrictions on tree felling and allowing motorised vehicles only up to a certain point," he said.
 
The MTDC is also identifying sites near irrigation projects and dams for launching water sports facilities and locations on the coastline which can be used for scuba diving.
 
"There are some isolated islands located in the submergence area of dams, where accommodation can be constructed for tourists. This can be done through private partnership or a revenue sharing model," the official said.
 
The corporation is also developing new destinations like forts, trekking routes, villages and a circuit covering pre-historic petroglyphs (engravings cut into rocks on the ground) in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. These petroglyphs are estimated to date back to the Mesolithic era (around 10,000 years ago).
 
hese carvings may be contemporaries of the cave paintings at Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh) which date back to the late Stone age. Such 'petroglyphs' have been found in Kerala and at Fansaimal in Goa and Kudopi and Malvan in Sindhudurg.