Monday December 10, 2018
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Taj Mahotsava and its diminishing appeal among foreign tourists

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By Brij Khandelwal

Agra: The 10-day cultural festival adorning the city every year, the Taj Mahotsava, failed to attract foreign tourists this time. Industry stakeholders state the fair is not more than a local “mela-tamasha” (fun fair) now.

Apparently, the extravaganza is organized to attract foreign tourists but has in no way helped promote tourism in the city.

The number of foreign tourists has been falling each year and the local ambiance has hardly become “tourist-friendly,” said senior tourism industry leader Rajiv Tiwari, president of Paryatan Mitra, which formed a human chain to highlight the issue. Tiwari said there was a clear “disconnect” between government policies, perceptions and the requirements of the tourism industry.

At a press conference ahead of the Taj Mahotsava, which began on Thursday, Agra divisional commissioner Pradip Bhatnagar stated he did not want crowds at the programs but tourists.

“In that case, he should have organized the festival in a five-star hotel and not at the fair ground and at half-a-dozen spots in the city,” retorted an angry Ved Prakash, a guide.

“So many events in one month, starting with the Taj Marathon, the Taj Car race, the star-studded Taj Mahotsava, the golf tournament (a part of the festival), the Taj Literature Festival and so on. Instead of just one month, these activities should have been phased out and a calendar of events for the whole year drawn up,” said senior hotelier Surendra Sharma, founder-president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association.

“There is a lack of planning and of understanding the dynamics of the tourism industry. Though the number of visitors to the Taj Mahotsava has been going up, the failure of the organizers to attract foreign tourists calls for a thorough review of strategies and efforts,” Sharma told reporters.

Some tourism industry leaders feel the Taj Mahotsav has made no impact on tourism and not helped in drawing foreigners. They say the original objectives to organize the fair were not being fulfilled. The fair had got too much localized like some kind of an extended village Haat.

The fair lacks its distinct appeal and thrust areas that could interest foreign visitors.

“The tourists fail to get a glimpse of the splendor and opulence of the Mughal era,” Rakesh Chauhan of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association told reporters, adding: “Year after year, you cannot go on repeating the same old features.”

“It should not remain a government show managed by indifferent bureaucrats. The industry too should share some responsibility,” Chauhan contended. (IANS) (Image source: brandife.com)

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3 Best Travel Experiences in India You Should Not Miss

India is steeped in culture and history.

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Beaches in India. Pixabay

About 60% of polled vacationers rate travel experiences as more important than material possessions. Curated experiences rank high on the list of voyagers this year and in 2019, the trend is expected to continue according to an independent survey commissioned by Booking.com. If you are planning a trip to India, there are several experiences that you should not miss from checking in at a luxurious royal hotel and estate tea visits to temple tours and mountain sun rise excursions.

Arrange a Yoga Retreat

The country is a dream destination for yogis with many places to choose from. A yoga retreat might just be what you need to relax and discover your inner self. A relaxing vacation is not only rejuvenating but also offers a glimpse of a different lifestyle.

 

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In order to comprehend better, the Indian seers constructed the special “BOAT” – named Yoga/Meditation. Pixabay

While the practice of yoga in the West focuses on physical postures and sequences, a yoga retreat in India offers benefits by emphasizing breathing, meditation and cleansing. In addition, you’ll be exposed to devotional practices such as chanting and karma yoga. A typical retreat consists of an inclusive stay at specialist accommodation such as a hotel, yoga camp or school but if you want to save on accommodation costs, you can just drop in daily or sign-up for shorter courses.

 

Go on a Tour of the River Ganges

To continue your spiritual journey, organize a tour of the Ganges, the third largest river that flows through the country. Named after the Hindu goddess, Ganga, it is one of the most sacred places in India with religious festivities and burial rites taking place at the river’s banks. Pilgrims come from far to cleanse themselves with the holy water in the Ganges.

 

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River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

 

The river starts at the Himalayas and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Ganges River while on a cruise. If you have the opportunity, sign-up for a walking tour along the Ganges in Varanasi.

Get Up Close with Hindu Gods

With over 2 million Hindu temples in India, deciding where to go might prove difficult. But if you want to cover the most temples during your visit, head to the state of Tamil Nadu. It is not for nothing that it is known as the ‘Land of the Temples’ boasting of almost 33,000 ancient places of worship. In total, there are 38,615 temples according to the Tamil Nadu Hindu Endowments Board.

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Most of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu were built during the historic and medieval period

Marvel at the Brihadishvara Temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and features exceptional architecture. Don’t forget the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai decked with thousands of colorful figures of gods, animals and demons.

Also Read: Best Casinos in India

India is steeped in culture and history. With so many things to offer its visitors, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to unique travel experiences that cater to your senses and personal preferences.