Pune, May 10 (IANS) In case the adventurous among you are looking for a brush with the rough and tumble of military life and want to have a closer dekko at the lives of the valorous men in olive green, opt for one of the ‘Veer Yatras’ in the coming summer vacations.
Maharashtra Ex-Servicemen Corporation’s (MESCO) first-ever attempt at introducing military tourism in the country will afford tourists an opportunity to get a ringside view of military life.
Tourists will be taken on guided tours at warfare centres and memorials, defence establishments and given an insight into military management techniques and games, the art of war and survival techniques and much more.
Initially, the ‘Veer Yatras’ will be conducted at sites and locations accessible to the civilians in view of security considerations.
Subsequently, more locations, sites and offshore locales etc. are planned to be included, depending on various clearances.
MESCO will spice up the tours with camp fires in colonial-era guesthouses, white water rafting, crocodile sightings and forest adventures, complemented by delicious Konkani cuisine on the western coast of Maharashtra.
“Military tourism is a well established concept worldwide, but has not been explored in a structured way in India. The military, its intricacies, heroism, security, wars and other things generate huge interest,” MESCO managing director Suhas Jatkar told IANS.
“All packages are highly subsidised, starting from Rs.2,150 for two days/one night and go up to Rs.32,000 for eight days/seven nights tours, designed to give an ‘as is’ experience at military sites where facilities are not deluxe,” Col. Jatkar said.
The first of the Veer Yatras will kick off on May 12 with ‘Bano Bahadur-Camp Shaurya’ for children aged 10-13, with a visit to Pune’s military sites, war memorial and army workshop.
Another such tour for youngsters aged 14-16 will also offer visits to the National Defence Academy, Armed Forces Medical College, College of Military Engineering and the Air Force Station here.
The proposed tours for the adults include visits to a moonlit Raigad — the capital of Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji — as well as Panhala adventure camp and Konkan’s host of old sea forts.
The Goa-Karwar coastal treasures can be explored through visits to Fort Aguada, National Institute of Oceanography, Naval Aviation Museum, Signal Regiment and Karwar Naval Base, besides Goan beaches, churches, temples and wildlife sanctuaries etc.
The Gangtok-Darjeeling Veer Yatra will include a visit to the China border at Nathu La Pass, the Border Roads Organisation and Military Museum, roaring rivers and waterfalls, tea gardens, monasteries, gompas and scenic lakes.
The Amarnath Yatra with helicopter rides will include visits to the Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir, a military post in Srinagar and High Altitude Warfare Centre, besides the Amarnath Cave situated at 5,186 metres, tent stays and local ‘langar’ food.
On offer is a ‘Corporate Outbound Programme’ comprising introduction to military management techniques, art of war, military games, survival techniques and a stay at the military guesthouse on the banks of the Savitri river, which has crocodiles, and the MESCO Military Hostel in Mahad, since converted into a mini resort.
The package tours organised by the ex-servicemen’s association, a state government undertaking founded in 2002, will fund welfare measures for former defence forces personnel, war widows and their families.
The endeavour will also serve to strengthen the emotional bonds between the military and the civilians, besides inculcating a spirit of patriotism among the youngsters, Col. Jatkar said.