Like a circle, a tour represents a journey that is a round trip, i.e., the act of leaving and then returning to the original starting point, and therefore, one who takes such a journey can be called a tourist. Over the decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and deepening ?diversification to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Tourism has become a thriving global industry with the power to shape developing countries in both positive and negative ways. No doubt it has become the fourth largest industry in the global economy. Similarly, in developing countries like India tourism has become one of the major sectors of the economy, contributing to a large proportion of the National Income and generating huge employment opportunities. It has become the fastest growing service industry in the country with great potentials for its further expansion and diversification.
FEATURES OF TOURISM IN INDIA
Today tourism is the largest service industry in India, with a contribution of 6.23% to the national GDP and providing 8.78% of the total employment. India witnesses more than 5 million annual foreign tourist arrivals and 562 million domestic tourism visits. The tourism industry in India generated about US$100 billion in 2008 and that is expected to increase to US$275.5 billion by 2018 at a 9.4% annual growth rate. The Ministry of Tourism is the nodal agency for the development and promotion of tourism in India and maintains the “Incredible India” campaign. It is ranked the 14th best tourist destination for its natural resources and 24th for its cultural resources, with many World Heritage Sites, both natural and cultural, rich fauna, and strong creative industries in the country.
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS IN INDIA
India is a country known for its lavish treatment to all visitors, no matter where they come from. Its visitor-friendly traditions, varied life styles and cultural heritage and colourful fairs and festivals held abiding attractions for the tourists. The other attractions include beautiful beaches, forests and wild life and landscapes for eco-tourism; snow, river and mountain peaks for adventure tourism; technological parks and science museums for science tourism; centres of pilgrimage for spiritual tourism; heritage, trains and hotels for heritage tourism. Yoga, ayurveda and natural health resorts and hill stations also attract tourists. The Indian handicrafts particularly, jewellery, carpets, leather goods, ivory and brass work are the main shopping items of foreign tourists. It is estimated through survey that nearly forty per cent of the tourist expenditure on shopping is spent on such items.
Mysore Palace is the central piece of Mysore’s attractions. The sprawling Mysore Palace is located in the heart of Mysore city. The interior of Mysore Palace is richly carved, intricate, colorful and architecturally thrilling. It is from this palace the erstwhile rulers , the Wodeyars, ruled the Mysore Kingdom. Though Mysore is often referred to as the “City of Palaces”, the term Mysore Palace refers to the largest and the most opulent of all its surviving palaces located in the city center, called the Amba Vilas Palace. Gol Gumbaz is the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah which was constructed in the 17th century by the seventh ruler of Adilshahi dynasty. Gol Gumbaz is a fine piece of Islamic architectural style situated at Bijapur in Karnataka. A significant feature of the Gol Gumbaz is its central dome which stands without the support of pillars. Also the central dome of Gol Gumbaz is the second largest dome in the world after the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Gokarna, is one of India’s most sacred places situated in the district of Uttara Kannada, of coastal region of Karnataka. Gokarna is adored as a Shaiva pilgrimage centre and as important as Kashi pilgrimage place for hindus. The Mahabaleshwara temple is the major temple. The deity here is two-armed, standing, and at least 1500 years’ old. The Shiva temple in Murudeshwar presents some beautiful carvings and statues, which has a history that dates back to a few centuries. The temple which embodies a Shiva Linga is believed to have erupted when Ravana flung the cloth covering the Atmalinga at Gokarna while lifting it. The Shiva idol towers 123 feet into the sky and is viewable from a very long distance from the arabian sea.
It is the tallest Shiva idol in the world. The Sri Ranganatha Temple is in a small island on the river Kaveri, in Mandya District. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an idol of the Lord in his reclining form, called Ranganatha. It is one of the three Ranga Kshetrams, all located in small islands along the River Kaveri. Shravanabelagola is located 51 km south east of Hassan in Karnataka at an Altitude of about 3350 feet above sea level. The colossal rock cut statue of saint Gommata at Shravanabelagola is the most magnificent among all Jaina works of art. It was built in 982 AD and is described as one of the mightiest achievements of ancient Karnataka in the realm of sculptural art. Also referred to as Lord Bahubali, the image is nude an stands upright in the posture of meditation known as kayotsarga, reaching a height of 17.38 meter (58 ft) atop the Vindyagiri of Doddabetta hills accessible through a flight of 500 steps.
The calm and peaceful Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 834.16 sq. km and rewarded as the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Karnataka. Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is neighboring with the Mahaveer sanctuary in Goa. Dandeli wildlife sanctuary is home to tigers, leopards, black panthers, elephants, gaur, deer, antelopes, many kinds of reptiles like Crocodiles and various kinds of snakes.The birds include the golden-backed woodpecker, crested serpent eagle, white breasted kingfisher and grey hornbill. Bandipur National Park is regarded as one of the most beautiful and the better-managed national parks of India. Located amidst the picturesque surroundings of the towering Western Ghat Mountains on the Mysore-Ooty highway in Karnataka, Bandipur National Park covers an area of about 874.2 sq km.
Together with Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary in Kerala and Nagarhole National Park in the North, it creates the India’s biggest biosphere reserve popularly known as the ‘Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve’. The Bandipur National Park occupies a special place in India’s efforts towards Eco-conservation. The Bird Sanctuary at Ranganathittu owes its existence to the world famous ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali who convinced the Maharaja of Mysore in 1940 to declare Ranganthittu as a protected area. The sanctuary is not very large it covers an area of 0.67sq.km, but is home to a great variety of birds and a few reptiles. The sanctuary is home to a wide species of birds including cormorants, darters, white ibis, spoon billed storks, open billed storks, painted storks,etc. There are a few mammals in the sanctuary like fruit bats, common mongoose and common otters. Marsh crocodiles make up the reptile population of the sanctuary. The sight of fruit bats, crocodiles and birds flying around is a beautiful sight to watch. The best season to visit the sanctuary is May-September and October.
Ajanta and Ellora are the pride of Maharashtra. The rock-cut caves of both these sites are world famous and illustrate the degree of skill and artistry that Indian craftsmen had achieved several hundred years ago. Ajanta dates from 100 B.C. while Ellora is younger by some 600 years. The village of Ajanta is in the Sahyadri hills, about 99 kms. From Aurangabad; a few miles away in a mammoth horseshoe-formed rock, are 30 caves overlooking a gorge, `each forming a room in the hill and some with inner rooms. All these have been carved out of solid rock with little more than a hammer and chisel and the faith and inspiration of Buddhism. Many of the caves have the most exquisite detailed carvings on the walls, pillars and entrances as well as magnificent wall paintings. Interestingly, Ellora, unlike the site of Ajanta, was never ‘rediscovered’.
Known as Verul in ancient times, it has continuously attracted pilgrims through the centuries to the present day. Agakhan Palace is situated 2 km away from Bund Garden in Yerwada on Pune-Nagar Road. Hugely popular for its historic importance, it is made with Italian arches and spacious lawns. Agakhan Palace is known for its architectural excellence. Spreading on a 19-acre land, the picturesque beauty of the palace captivates the eye of every onlooker; with its magnificent structure. The Gateway of India is one of India’s most unique landmarks situated in the city of Mumbai. The colossal structure was constructed in 1924. The Gateway of India is a monument that marks India’s chief ports and is a major tourist attraction for visitors who arrive in India for the first time. The main objective behind the construction of the Gateway of India was to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay (Mumbai)
Situated at an altitude of 1461 m, Toranmal is perhaps one of the most peaceful places on earth. Toranmal falls in the Nandurbar district of Maharashtra, surrounded by Satpuda hills. Flanked by the 7 hills of the Satpuda range, Toranmal nestles among varieties of flora and fauna. It is one of those rare places which are not crowded by many people but the natural beauty deeply touches every visitor. Narrow hill roads, fanned by thick wood, Toranmal, has beautiful lakes and old temples. Soaring peaks, breathtaking valleys. Lush flora. Cool, crisp mountain air. This is Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra’s most popular hill station, and once the summer capital of the Bombay Presidency during the British Raj. Mahabaleshwar means ‘God of Great Power’ in Sanskrit. Indeed, the place is great and bountiful, rewarding the visitor with a mix of old-world charm, natural beauty and modernity.
The cultural capital of the state of Maharashtra, is said to be the educational center of India. Pune has forts dating back to the seventeenth century such as Sinhagad, Purandar, Shaniwar Wada (a weekend residence of the Peshwas) and Lal Mahal (the red palace), residence of Chhatrapati Shivaji maharaj. Pune also has educational institutes of repute such as Fergusson College, a 200-year old college built by the British. The eastern equivalent of New York City and Los Angeles, the financial capital and entertainment (Bollywood) capital of the country. Places of interest include Haji Ali Dargah, along with being a religious place, it is a great attraction for tourists, more than ten thousands people of all religions visit the place daily; The Bandra-Worli Sea Link and Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus, a humongous architectural stone structure built by the British more than 200 years ago.
Chittorgarh, also called Chittaur, from the 7th century to the 16th, was the capital of Mewar under the Rajputs. The Chittaur Fort is the best known fort in Rajasthan. Chittaur evokes memories of great heroism and sacrifice by Rajput men and women in the intermittent battles that they had to fight against invaders from Northwest or Delhi. Chittaur witnessed both the ravages of war and the triumphs of the spirit. Allaudin Khilji who coveted Queen Padmini of Chittaur, invaded the city in 1303 A.D. Queen Padmini and the women of the court sacrificed themselves in a pyre of fire rather than submit to anybody. This supreme sacrifice has been called ‘Jauhar’ and epitomizes the fiery spirit of the Rajputs of the day. The city stands strewn with monuments and battlements as evidence of the blood and gore that it went through in medieval times.
Located in the heart of the Pink City Jaipur, the City Palace is a landmark in Jaipur and is also a very popular tourist hotspot from where the Maharaja reigned from. This palace also includes the famous ‘Chandra Mahal’ and ‘Mubarak Mahal’, and other buildings which form a part of the palace complex. The architectural styles are largely based on a fusion of Rajput, Mughal and European styles. Udaipur Lake Palace is one of the most romantic places on this earth. The Palace situated amidst the scenic Pichola Lake offers a heavenly view to the onlooker. The imposing Aravalli Hills on one side and soaring palaces on the other, make the perfect background to this beautiful Lake Palace. Raised in white marble, Lake Palace was constructed by Maharana Jai Singh II in 1746. The magnificent Palace stretches across a four-acre island creating a dream-like impression.
Ranthambore National Park is in Sawai Madhopur District of Rajasthan state.Located at the junction of the Aravalli and Vindhya hill range, this is one of the finest places to view animals, especially as they are used to being stared at here.The park covers an area of Approximately 400 sq Km and if combined it with the area of sawai man singh sanctuary area,it is around 500 Sq km. Ranthambore national park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1957 and in 1974 it gained the protection of “Project Tiger”. It got it’s status of a National Park in 1981. There are many water bodies located all over the park, which provide perfect relief during the extremely hot summer months for the forest inhabitants. A huge fort, after which the park is named, towers over the park atop a hill. These tigers are famous for being seen in the daytime too, due to their lack of fear of human presence in vehicles. This lack of fear of humans is excellent for tourists, as they get to see the tigers often.
The Keoladeo Ghana National Park or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary lies between two of India’s most historic cities, Agra and Jaipur. It was formerly a duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas .The Keoladeo National Park is not very large being 29 sq km. This north Indian sanctuary is situated in the country’s northwestern state of Rajasthan, about 190 km from the national capital of Delhi. Keoladeo is famous as one of Asia’s finest birding areas, with over 380 resident and migrant species, including the Common, Demoiselle and the rare Siberian Cranes. It is also an excellent place to watch mammals like Golden Jackal, Striped Hyena, Fishing Cat, Jungle Cat, Nilgai, Sambar, Blackbuck and wild Boar. The park derives its name from the temple of Keoladeo (Shiva) and ‘ghana’ which locally means dense, implying the nature of the vegetation. During the cool winter months it is also possible to see large Indian Pythons sunning themselves.
The Thar Desert of Rajasthan is situated partly in India and partly in Pakistan. Bordering the desert on four sides are, Indus plains to the west, Aravalli Range to the southeast, Rann of Kutch to the south, and Punjab plains to the north and northeast. Also known as the “Great Indian Desert”, Thar covers an area of approximately 77,000 square miles (200,000 square km). Thar constitutes one of the five major physical divisions of India. It occupies the western and northwestern parts of the state of Rajasthan. High and low sand dunes, sandy plains, low barren hills, etc characterize the landscape of the desert. Most of the sand dunes are forever in motion and keep on changing their shapes and sizes. The desert tract receives low and erratic rainfall annually, ranging from about 4 inches (100 mm) or less in the west to about 20 inches (500 mm) in the east. Thar Desert supports vegetation consisting of mainly stunted scrub and a few sporadic trees.
IMPACTS OF TOURISM IN INDIA
1. Generating Income and Employment: Tourism in India has emerged as an instrument of income and employment generation, poverty alleviation and sustainable human development. It contributes 6.23% to the national GDP and 8.78% of the total employment in India. 2. Source of Foreign Exchange Earnings: Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange earnings in India. This has favourable impact on the balance of payment of the country. The tourism industry in India generated about US$100 billion in 2008 and that is expected to increase to US$275.5 billion by 2018 at a 9.4% annual growth rate.
3. Preservation of National Heritage and Environment: Tourism helps preserve several places which are of historical importance by declaring them as heritage sites. For instance, the Taj Mahal, the Qutab Minar, Ajanta and Ellora temples, etc, would have been decayed and destroyed had it not been for the efforts taken by Tourism Department to preserve them. 4. Developing Infrastructure: Tourism tends to encourage the development of multiple-use infrastructure that benefits the host community, including various means of transports, health care facilities, and sports centers, in addition to the hotels and high-end restaurants that cater to foreign visitors. 5. Raising Environmental Awareness :
Tourism has the potential to increase public appreciation of the environment and to spread awareness of environmental problems when it brings people into closer contact with nature and the environment. This confrontation heightens awareness of the value of nature among the community and lead to environmentally conscious behavior and activities to preserve the environment.
1. Undesirable Social and Cultural Change: Tourism sometimes led to the destruction of the social fabric of a community. The more tourists coming into a place, the more the perceived risk of that place losing its identity. A good example is Goa. From the late 60’s to the early 80’s when the Hippy culture was at its height, Goa was a haven for such hippies. Here they came in thousands and changed the whole culture of the state leading to a rise in the use of drugs, prostitution and human trafficking. This had a ripple effect on the country. 2. Increase Tension and Hostility: Tourism can increase tension, hostility, and suspicion between the tourists and the local communities when there is no respect and understanding for each other’s culture and way of life. This may further lead to violence and other crimes committed against the tourists.
3. Creating a Sense of Antipathy: Tourism brought little benefit to the local community. In most all-inclusive package tours more than 80% of travelers’ fees go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies, not to local businessmen and workers. Moreover, large hotel chain restaurants often import food to satisfy foreign visitors and rarely employ local staff for senior management positions, preventing local farmers and workers from reaping the benefit of their presence. This has often created a sense of antipathy towards the tourists and the government. 4. Adverse Effects on Environment and Ecology: One of the most important adverse effects of tourism on the environment is increased pressure on the carrying capacity of the ecosystem in each tourist locality. Increased transport and construction activities led to large scale deforestation and destabilisation of natural landforms, while increased tourist flow led to increase in solid waste dumping as well as depletion of water and fuel resources.
Air and Noise Pollution: Transport by air, road, and rail is continuously increasing in response to the rising number of tourist activities in India. Transport emissions and emissions from energy production and use are linked to acid rain, global warming and photochemical pollution. Solid waste and littering: In areas with high concentrations of tourist activities and appealing natural attractions, waste disposal is a serious problem and improper disposal can be a major despoiler of the natural environment – rivers, scenic areas, and roadsides.
Tourism industry in India is growing and it has vast potential for generating employment and earning large amount of foreign exchange besides giving a fillip to the country’s overall economic and social development. But much more remains to be done. Eco-tourism needs to be promoted so that tourism in India helps in preserving and sustaining the diversity of the India’s natural and cultural environments. Tourism in India should be developed in such a way that it accommodates and entertains visitors in a way that is minimally intrusive or destructive to the environment and sustains & supports the native cultures in the locations it is operating in.