Tourism-Concept, Resources and Development Beach Resorts, Cultural Centres Part 5

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Beach Resorts

India’s long coastline of over from Kandla in Gujarat to Kolkata in West Bengal and along the islands offers opportunities for the promotion favourite beach tourism. A number of beautiful beaches of Goa and that of Kovalam in Kerala are on the favourite list of the tourists. Even the number of domestic tourists to these two beaches has been thirteen times more than the foreign tourists in certain years.

Goa Beaches

Image of Goa Beaches

Goa Beaches

Kovalam is highly popular because of its calm temperate and shark free waters along the palm fringed coast. Although sunning is not allowed to the extent which attracts the tourists to Spain, Italy and Southern France coasts, yet one can enjoy Kovalam. It is a health resort for body massages along ancient Ayurvedic lines. It is ideal equally for water games like surfing or water skiing. Beaches of Goa attract because of their wider sandy and open sunny stretches from end to end.

There are miles of shining golden sands of the beaches along Gujarat’s Saurashtra coast. Erstwhile Nawab of Junagadh built the palace beach resort for private use of the royal ladies and their companions at places known as Chorwad and Ahmedpur-Mandvi.

Along Maharashtra’s coast there are eight small beaches starting from Mumbai’s popular Juhu to Murud at a distance of 220 km south. These unspoilt though small-sized beaches along the whole stretch have the natural beauty but are awaiting the development of an active tourism. Down south Goa’s 105 km long coastline has as many as 40 beaches though 12 are the most popular so far. A booming tourism is already experienced here largely due to its hospitable and happy people. Karnataka also has its beaches at Mangalore and Malpe along its south coast and at Karwar along its north coast.

The pride of Chennai is its sun-swept and litter-free Marina beach, second longest in the world, running for 12 km from Chennai harbour in the north to Santhome (St. Thomas) church in the south, joining the Elliot quieter beach extending upto Adyar’s residential colony. Close to it, in the gulf of Mannar, there are 21 sandy little islands approachable from the mainland just by short hops.

Andhra Pradesh has its share of two beaches close to Vishakhapatnam known as Ramakrishna Mission and Rishi Konda beaches. Orissa has its sea beach close to the ancient sea port of Gopalpur surrounded by sand dunes. Besides Puri and Konark, Chandipore near Balasore is known for its 55 km recession of the tides each day at its beach.

West Bengal has a quiet Digha beach close to Ganga’s sea mouth. It is 6 km long, one of the widest in the world amidst gently rolling sea and thick casuarina forest on its sides. The shallow and calm sea has recently made it a popular seaside resort for sailing, fishing, and relaxing.

Cultural Centres (Heritage Tourism)

India is rich in heritage tourism. This is true of almost every part of the country and today 26 such sites have been included among world tourist sites. Our cultural heritage consists of ancient temples and shrines held sacred by the people of different faiths. There are numerous sites which were once abodes of the saints. These are the pilgrimage centres visited every year by lakhs of devotees. Their number is the largest and these are most widely distributed as compared to all other tourist centres. The images, symbols, diverse architecture, and legends created around the origin of ancient temples seem to carry an appeal even for the curious tourists. The styles of temple buildings, the minarets, and the arches vary from one part of the country to the other. The clear examples of this variety are the gompas (Buddhist monasteries) of Ladakh and Sikkim, the gopurams with complex patterns of Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu and other southern states.

Hindus have shown keen sense of direction in locating different pilgrim centres in every major corner of the whole country. There are four places of the highest order of pilgrimage called ‘Dhams’. Circulating them in one’s lifetime was considered a great act of devotion even in ancient periods of difficult communication. These are Badrinath in the north, Rameswaram in the south, Dwarka in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. There are as many as seven ‘Puris’ or the holiest shrines. They are Puri in the east, Kanchipuram in the south, Varanasi (Kashi Puri), Ujjain (Avantika Puri) and Ayodhya (Ayodhya Puri) in the centre, and Dwarka Puri in the west. In mythological terms there are the twelve most sacred Shiva temples spread all over the land. These are named as the ‘Jyotirlingas’ tracing their origins from different legends. Likewise, are the fifty-one places recognised as ‘Shaktipeeths’ venerated by the devotees worshipping various goddesses, symbolising power or virility. Mathura-Vrindavan is another tract renowned for Hindu pilgrimage because of its association with the life of Lord Krishna.

Great flexibility in matters of belief has given rise to numerous sects and to such a large number of places of Hindu pilgrimage. Ancient temples occupy remarkable sites, hilltops, river confluences, river or lake sides, islands, forest groves or a nucleus around which the whole city has grown and expanded. There is a great need to have trained guides, well-versed in ancient lore, and with a skill to present the history of pilgrim centres properly. By explaining the influence of geography and of the history of areas of pilgrimage we can create a tourist interest in the temple heritage of the country.

Next in order are the historic cities, ruins of ancient cities, and the rock-cut temples inside the caves. There are the remnants of the great halls or the ‘Chaityas’, ‘Stupas’, ‘Towers’, and the arches of Buddhist places of worship. There are the temple sites partially or wholly submerged in sea or lying in ruins. At some such sites new temples or shrines have been rebuilt. These are still visited for worship or prayers by the followers. The sites associated with the life of Gautam Buddha are marked in Bihar and the adjoining areas and are the centres of international attraction. The Jain shrines are scattered in Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Karnataka. Within them are the beautiful images of Jain saints and sculptures of their life stories. On Mt. Parasnath near Hazaribagh in Bihar is situated the most sacred centre of pilgrimage for Jains.

The great Sikh shrines exist in Punjab like Hari Mandir Saheb at Amritsar, in Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and in parts of the Himalaya. India has the pride in retaining some old churches especially in Goa and Kerala and centres of worship of the Jews and the Parsis.

The great mosques are recognised from a distance from a number of their minarets and big quadrangles from congregation of Muslims. Mark the sites of important Jama Masjid at Delhi, Mecca mosque at Hyderabad, Taj mosque at Bhopal, the old Shah Hamadan and the new Hazratbal mosques at Srinagar, the famous shrine of Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer, Nizamuddin Aulia at Delhi, and numerous other Dargahs elsewhere. Many old shrines are venerated by the people of all faiths.

Important Religious Centres of India

Image of Important Religious Centres of India

Important Religious Centres of India

The examples of two great ruined cities continue to be number one tourist attractions. One is Hampi in the state of Karnataka and the other is Fatehpur Sikri near Agra in Uttar Pradesh. Hampi’s ruins are impressive as a playground of the old rocks of Deccan plateau. They include remains of palaces, temples, markets, reservoirs of water close to the banks of Tungabhadra River. It remained capital of the great Vijayanagar Empire for two centuries. The empire extended from the shores of Arabian Sea to those of the Bay of Bengal and included Goa in the realm.

These forts were built by the Rajputs, Mughals, Marathas, and other powerful rulers of their times for needs of defence or for their own grandeur. Victory tower like Qutub Minar at Mehrauli near Delhi and Kirti Stambh inside the massive Chittorgarh fort in Rajasthan attract all types of tourists. A few forts of different styles were added by the British rulers such as Fort William at Kolkata, Fort St. George at Chennai and a Portuguese fort at Kochi. India’s cultural heritage also includes places or sites known for the heroism and the penance of country’s great sons.

Haldighati near Udaipur, Jallianwala Bagh at Amritsar, Cellular jail at Port Blair, Vivekananda rock memorial at Kanyakumari, Gandhiji’s Ashrams at Sabarmati in Ahmedabad and Sewagram in Maharashtra, and the Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry are examples of this type. One cannot leave out the birth place of Adi Shankaracharya at Kaladi near Alwaye in Kerala. The museums, zoos, art galleries maintained in our major cities or places of historic interest in addition to entirely new cities built in independent India are of no less cultural significance.

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