Dehradun : 14 February, 2016

Wellness tourism is set to make inroads into the state which has hitherto been popular as a religious and adventure tourism hub. Five geothermal hot springs in Uttarakhand will now be developed into wellness tourism destinations, complete with high-end spa facilities and yoga and meditation retreats.

While India is home to over 350 hot springs, which are formed by geothermally heated groundwater that rises from the Earth's crust, Uttarakhand harbours 62 of them.

The state tourism department is now focusing on developing five of these geothermal hot springs into wellness tourism destinations. These include Madkot in Pithoragarh on the banks of Gori Ganga river, Gaurikund in Rudraprayag on the way to Kedarnath, one hot spring in Badrinath, Rishikund on the way to Gangotri and Suryakund in Yamunotri.

With a budget of Rs 400 crore each, the destinations are expected to be ready in three years. The sites will be complemented with a spa complex, golf course, yoga and meditation centre, dance and aerobatics complex and an amphitheatre.

RK Joshi, director of infrastructure of Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board (UTDB) told TOI, "The Himalayan state is ideally poised to exploit geothermal hot springs, which is one of the many gifts of God, to augment revenue. These destinations will offer spa facilities such as hot water massages, face packs, steam bath, and nature-based products. UTDB will be assisted by New Zealand Geo Thermal Association, Geo Thermal Institute of University of Auckland and Geological Survey of India (GSI) in executing this project."

Global hot springs spa, one of the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry, is estimated to be a USD 50 billion industry worldwide. It is currently dominated by Japan and China. TOI

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