Tourism in India
Babar, the first conqueror, and emperor of the Mughal dynasty in India was so charmed by the beauty of India that he proclaimed that if there was any heaven on earth, it was here, it was here (in India). That was the charm, the grandeur, and beauty of the country.
It was this beauty and grandeur that had ever attracted people from across the Himalayas to come down to India. Right from the advent of Aryans, down to the tourists of today, India had her attraction which drew them, over the ages to this land of diversities even in its natural shapes and its varied topography and climates.
From the snow-covered peaks of the Himalayas to the sun-soaked beaches of the south or the western ghats; from the charming and pleasant hill resorts like Simla, Kulu, Manali, Nainital, Mussoorie, Darjeeling, Ooty to the majestic Rajasthan — the Pink city of Jaipur, the Amer Fort, Jaisalmer, the Lake Palace of Udaipur, Agra with its wonder of wonders — The Taj Mahal, The Fatehpur Sikri; the Frescoes of Ajanta and Ellora, the Charminar of Hyderabad, the Gol Gunbud of Golconda, the magnificently built temples of the South, the Vivekanand rock down south — these are sights which are so exotic, so attractive, so inviting.
Then there are the reserve forests of Ranthambore or the Corbett Park; the skiing and mountaineering facilities at Gulmarg in Kashmir, and the houseboats, in its lagoons in Kerala, the beaches of Goa on one side and of Puri on the other side. And then the folk dances; the devotional music in the temples of the South — all these have charms of such a variety which no one country can easily make available in the world. Hence it is that tourists from all over the world come on and on in large numbers aid India offers them the sights, the scenes, the fun, the frolic — all in one land.
Then there is the variety of attractions for men of all religions for Hindus, the temples, for Buddhists, the Shrines, and old monasteries
— Kapilavastu, Kushinagar, Shravasti, Sarnath, Gaya; for Muslims
— the Dargah of Sheikh Salim Chishti at Fatehpur Sikri, the Dargah at Ajmer; for Jains, the huge image of the Tirthankar in Andhra Pradesh, for Christians, the magnificent churches of Goa. So there is food for all tastes and all people.
Max Muller the German Indologist Scholar had remarked —’ If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered over the greatest problems of life and has found solutions of some of them — I should point to India’. And so had the great philosopher and thinker of France-Roman-Rolland-remarked ‘If there is one place on the face of the earth, where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when men began the dream of existence, it is India’.
The Government Tourist Department as well as some private tourist promotion organizations have been playing their part in encouraging tourists from all over the world to come down to India Tourism is the third-largest industry to earn foreign exchange. The Department of Tourism provides the basic infrastructure and information regarding the facilities available as also literature and details about the tourist’s sights The Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel management provides professionally trained personnel to the industry.
Then there is the National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology which prepares trained personnel in every aspect of tourism. Then there are a number of duly recognized institutes that offer diploma and degree courses in tourism and young men and women are rushing to seek admissions to these courses.
The training imparted in these institutes give to its students and scholars a touch of everything which they need to know about India — the history, from the ancient times to the modern; the geography; the customs, the traditions, the festivals and the fairs the customer dealing; the travel facilities, the boarding and lodging facilities — how to arrange, how to manage and how to make the foreign tourist feel completely at home in this country.
But in spite of all these efforts on the part of the government and the private agencies, tourists still suffer problems. They do not find themselves so well looked after as they should be, the train services in the country have a certain amount of uncertainty which causes great disruption in the entire schedule of the tourist; even air-service is also not fully ensured and bookings in hotels are also not properly looked after.
A foreign tourist comes with a complete pion of his tour and any dislocation or disruption can spoil the whole fun for him. Roads are in a bad shape, hence bus journeys are also not that comfortable. The government tourist department has on their staff, personnel not genuinely interested in the promotion of tourism.
The sense of national pride lacks in them; the commitment to their job is not there, hence the tourist has to suffer which discourages not only the one who suffers but it discourages all those to whom he would carry the message of neglect or apathy. There have been cases reported off and on in the newspapers of how a foreign tourist is fleeced by the taxi or the cab drivers; the lady tourists are robbed and even raped. All this carries a wrong message to such prospective tourists who might be planning a happy holiday in our country.
What is needed is that our tourist sights should be spruced up, made more attractive in every way old historical monuments and buildings should be properly maintained, tourists be treated as our personal guests and all care should be taken to make their total stay in the country so congenial and comfortable that they may turn into our agents and propagators in their own respective countries.
It is only with that subjective and personal touch that tourism, which at present is showing a downward trend, may get an upward swing and may become an industry at the top of all. We have all the potential to attract — but it is not only the places but the persons who man the matter that matters the most.