Are you an explorer at heart and crave adventure? Then Coal India Ltd (CIL) has just the right thing for you. This vacation, instead of going to a hill station or hitting the beaches, go for a trip to two active coal mines.

Coal India is offering a peek into its operations by promoting eco-mine tourism at two mines operated by its subsidiary, Western Coalfields Ltd.

In a bid to showcase the minimal environmental impact of coal mining operations, Western Coalfields has created a 15-acre eco-park between Saoner and Gondegaon mines near Maharashtra. Tourists can visit the depths of the Saoner underground mine and also watch the operations at the Gondegaon opencast mine from a distance.

“This is something that is very exciting and so far nothing like this has been seen before in India,” Coal Secretary Anil Swarup told BusinessLine .

Age limit At Saoner, with appropriate medical clearances, those above the age of 16 years can take a ride down the underground mine with a qualified guide.

The mine is 45 km from Nagpur and the underground infotainment area is spread across 4.71 sq km. Temperatures in the underground mine range from 5° Celsius to 48° Celsius over the course of the year. The Saoner mine produced 0.34 million tonnes of coal in 2014-15.

Visitors can also see the Gondegaon Opencast Mine from a viewing deck, with officials from the company explain the mining procedures. Gondegaon is about 30 km from Nagpur by road.

People can also stay at the guesthouse in the residential colony adjoining the Saoner mine.

The mines are also close to other tourist destinations such as the Pench Tiger Reserve, the Totladoh Dam and Reservoir and several historic temples.

Mine tourism The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has also approached Western Coalfields to include the Saoner and Gondegaon sites in their mine tourism circuit.

MTDC will have day-trips departing at 9.30AM from Nagpur and ending by 2.30PM when visitors are taken back to Nagpur. Tours will start from the MTDC office in Nagpur. The best time to visit is September to April, says the State’s tourism body.

While MTDC already conducts eco-mine tourism trips to mining sites of other minerals, this is the first time that coal, India’s most abundant mineral resource, will be showcased to the public.