Ahmedabad: While Asiatic lions remain one of the biggest tourist attractions in Gujarat, the cow is being set up to become the next draw for travellers in the state. The Gujarat State Gauseva Ayog, which regulates livestock, has started a "cow tourism" project to popularise the farm animal.
People interested in knowing more about cow-rearing and making products with cow urine and dung are taken on a two-day trip to some of the best-kept cow shelters and designated gauchars (grazing land), Gauseva Ayog chairman Vallabh Kathiria said.
"Cow tourism is a step towards making people understand the economic benefits of keeping cows. Most people are not aware that we can earn good income by preparing some basic products, such as bio-gas and medicines, using cow dung and urine," Mr Kathiria said. "Cow tourism is all about combining the religious aspect with the economical aspect attached with the cow," he said.
He said cow urine has medicinal and disinfectant properties and its extract is used in making organic phenyl and soap; cow dung serves as raw material for producing bio-gas, fertiliser and for making incense sticks.
"Under this project, we arrange a two-day tour of shelters doing a commendable job in not only keeping the cows in good condition but also making money by preparing cow dung and urine-based products," the Gauseva Ayog official said.
"In a short span of introducing this project, we have arranged several such trips across the state," he said.
One of the popular destinations is Dharmaj, a village near Anand, said Mr Kathiria. "Preparing a guachar is also an art and one such grazing land has been prepared at Dharmaj. People who are concerned about the well-being of cows take ideas from such model gauchar during the trip and implement them at their village," he said, adding many tourists have even started rearing cows and built gaushalas after learning about the financial benefits during the trips.
Protection of cows has become a priority in Gujarat after the state government last year introduced a tough law against cow slaughter with a provision for life sentence. Apart from cow tourism, the Ayog is undertaking other steps to encourage people to rear cows. It is in talks with jails and educational institutions to start cow shelters on their premises.
"At present, jails in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Bhuj have cow shelters. We are in contact with authorities of Gondal and Amreli jails to open such gaushalas on their premises. Several colleges and even universities have expressed willingness to start cow shelters on their premises," Mr Kathiria said.