India: Tourist preferred destination

GAN INDIA

India is the world’s seventh-largest country stretching from the high mountains of the Himalayas to the tropical greenery of Kerala, and from the sacred Ganges to the sands of the Thar desert.

Its more than one billion inhabitants are divided into 2,000 ethnic groups and speak over 200 different languages and dialects.

Conforming to its size and population, India has an almost endless variety of cultures, landscapes, monuments and places to explore for tourists.

From the ancient ruins, fascinating religious structures, exotic cities and diverse landscape, there is an endless collection of tourist attractions in India that will never cease to awe and fascinate the visitors from Saudi Arabia or from any Gulf state.

In fact, India is very diverse — probably the most diverse of countries that you will find on this earth.

“We have some of the coldest places in Kashmir, and the place with the world’s highest rainfall — Cherrapunji ,” said Sibi George, deputy chief of Indian mission, while speaking about tourism in India on the occasion of the Republic Day celebrations.

Adding to that, more than half of Indian boundary is home to beautiful beaches. And don’t forget that Northern part of India hosts Himalayan Ranges snowcapped mountains.

Then, a visitor can rejoice by seeing and joining a large number of colorful festivals — social and religious — observed in various parts of India by diverse ethnic groups. Then, there is a huge entertainment industry called Bollywood, which has no parallel in the world. This is in addition to a large number of tourist attractions, which fascinate each and every visitor.

The southern state of Kerala stands prominently on the tourism map of India.

In fact, Kerala Tourism has been conferred the UN award for creating innovative initiatives for sustainable tourism this month, the first time India has ever won the recognition.

The state lifted the coveted honor for its sustainable development initiative in the world renowned backwater resort of Kumarakom, a Kerala tourism release said.

Kerala Tourism bagged the honor early this month at the annual UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism presented at Madrid, Spain.

Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honor given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honor for its path-breaking initiatives that lure any tourist.

The Kerala backwaters are a chain of lagoons and lakes lying parallel to the Arabian Sea coast in the Kerala state. The Kerala backwaters are home to many unique species of aquatic life including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds and animals such as otters and turtles.

Today, houseboat tourism is the most popular tourist activity in the backwaters, with several large Kettuvallams (traditional rice boats, now converted into floating hotels) plying the waterways.

Not only this, there are numerous other locations in India that attract tourists of all tastes. The Lake Palace in Lake Pichola in the city of Udaipur in one of them, which was built as a royal summer palace in the 18th century.

Today it is a luxury 5-Star hotel, operating under the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. The Lake Palace hotel operates a boat, which transports guests to the hotel from a jetty at the City Palace on the east bank of Lake Pichola.

The palace became famous in 1983 when it was featured in the James Bond film Octopussy, as the home of titular character.

Equally important is Palolem, which is the most southerly of Goa’s developed beaches and also one of the most beautiful. It is a natural bay surrounded by lofty headlands on either sides, resulting in a calm, idyllic sea with a gently sloping bed. For those who believe a beach cannot be paradise without a decent selection of cheap restaurants and good hotels, a dose of nightlife and plenty of like-minded people Palolem is the place to be.

But, if you are fond of wildlife, then India has a lot to offer. Its Kanha National Park is among the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Asia and one of best places to catch a glimpse of a tiger in India. The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha provided inspiration to Rudyard Kipling for his famous novel, Jungle Book, and make this one of the top attractions in India.

On the other hand, India also offers the pastoral charm of desert life like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.

Located in Rajasthan’s remote westernmost corner close to the border with Pakistan, Jaisalmer is the quintessential desert town. The yellow sandstone walls of the Golden City rise from the Thar desert like a scene from the Arabian Nights while the Jaisalmer Fort crowns the city.

Uncontrolled commercialism has dampened the romantic vision of Jaisalmer, but even with all the touts and tour buses, it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in India.

Then, there are Ajanta Caves, which are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the second century BC. The magnificent Ajanta caves were abandoned around 650 AD and forgotten until 1819, when a British hunting party stumbled upon them.

Their isolation contributed to the fine state of preservation in which some of their paintings remain to this day. The well preserved murals depict everything from battlefields to sailing ships, city streets and teeming animal-filled forests to snowcapped mountains.

The city of Aurangabad is the gateway to the Ajanta Caves as well as the equally spectacular Ellora Caves. But, if one travels from Aurangabad to the north of India, especially the city of Varanasi, then he or she can visit one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

In many ways Varanasi epitomizes the very best aspects of India, and it can be a little overwhelming. The scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganges at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights.

Close to Varanasi, Taj Mahal in Agra (in Uttar Pradesh) is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1632 and 1653 by order of the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. Called “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity” it is one of the masterpieces of Mogul architecture, and one of the great tourist attractions in India.

Besides the white domed marble mausoleum, the Taj Mahal includes several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes.

Domestic tourism continues to be the main contributor to the sector providing much needed resilience. But, the infrastructure development holds the key to India’s sustained growth in the tourism sector.

Therefore, the Ministry of Tourism has been making efforts to develop quality tourism infrastructure at tourist destinations and circuits.

The ministry has launched a scheme for development of nationally and internationally important destinations and circuits through mega projects.

So far, 71 mega projects have been identified out of which 53 projects have been sanctioned till 2013. Source: arabnews