Destinations galore

Print edition : September 26, 2008

The Dhuandhar falls at Bheraghat in Jabalpur.-A.M. FARUQUI

The State government has taken various measures to promote tourism in a big way.

MADHYA PRADESH is a tourists delight. There is something here for everyone, be it the devout, the adventurous or the simple traveller who wishes to walk through the corridors of history. The land of Madhya Pradesh is perhaps the oldest part of the subcontinent, Gondwana, the home of the Gond tribe. In the prehistoric caves at Bhimbetka, near Bhopal, fascinating paintings dating back to the palaeolithic age are found. This was perhaps one of the earliest dwellings of human beings. In fact, the excavations here have revealed a cultural sequence right from the late Stone Age to the early historical period.

The State has some of the best painted rock shelters, the majority of which have been found in the districts of Sehore, Bhopal, Raisen, Hoshangabad and Sagar. The magnificent temples of Khajuraho, a world heritage site, came up during a short spell of inspired construction activity under the Chandellas in the 10th and 11th centuries.

A number of festivals are celebrated in the State. An important tribal festival, Bhagoriya, is marked by traditional gaiety and enthusiasm. Sivratri is celebrated at Khajuraho, Bhojpur, Pachmarhi and Ujjain, with a local flavour. The Ramnavami festival at Chitrakoot and Orchha is celebrated with a unique sense of devotion.

The festivals of Orchha, Malwa and Pachmarhi bring to the fore a huge repertoire of culture and art. The Tansen Music Festival of Gwalior, the Ustad Allauddin Khan Music Festival of Maihar, the Kalidas Samaroh at Ujjain and the Festival of Dances at Khajuraho are some of the well-known art festivals of Madhya Pradesh. An annual Narmada Festival was started this year at Jabalpur, a place famous for its marble rocks. A Shivpuri Festival has commenced at Shivpuri, which was once the summer capital of the Scindia clan of Gwalior.

On the occasion of Makara Sankranti, pilgrims bathe in the Narmada at Hoshangabad.-A.M. FARUQUI

Perfectly preserved medieval cities, enchanting wildlife sanctuaries and some of the holiest pilgrim centres offer the tourist the most fulfilling experience. The tranquil beauty of Pachmarhi; the glittering splendour of marble rocks and the roaring sound of the Dhuandhar falls at Bheraghat; the Kanha National Park, the habitat of the unique barasingha (swamp deer); and the Bandhavgarh National Park, the tiger territory with its prehistoric caves, are some of the major attractions of the State. Gwalior, Mandu, Datia, Chanderi, Jabalpur, Orchha, Raisen, Sanchi, Vidisha, Udaygiri, Bhimbetka, Indore and Bhopal are famous for historical monuments.

Maheshwar, Omkareshwar, Ujjain, Chitrakoot and Amarkantak provide spiritual solace for the religious-minded. Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Amarkantak have been declared holy cities for integrated development in accordance with their religious significance.

Besides the exquisitely carved temples of Khajuraho, the temples of Orchha, Bhojpur and Udaipur also attract a large number of tourists. Archaeological treasures are preserved in the museums at Satna, Sanchi, Vidisha, Gwalior, Indore, Mandsaur, Ujjain, Rajgarh, Bhopal, Jabalpur and Rewa. Burhanpur is being developed as a new destination.

The State government has initiated various measures to promote tourism in a big way. These are creating infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity; upgrading and augmenting accommodation, catering and recreational facilities; augmenting transport facilities; marketing destinations to ensure optimal use of infrastructure; evolving suitable policies for increasing foreign exchange earnings; and promoting the arts and crafts of Madhya Pradesh.

The destinations have been categorised under various heads. For example, Gwalior, Orchha and Khajuraho have been showcased for cultural tourism, while Sanchi and Mandu have been developed as heritage, arts and craft sites. For adventure and wildlife tourism, Pachmarhi, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Satpura, Pench Valley National Parks, Tigra Lake (Gwalior), Upper Lake (Bhopal) and Gandhi Sagar (Mandsaur) have been identified. With facilities such as log huts, camping grounds, trekking, water sports, aero sports, angling, cruises and caravans, these destinations are turning into a tourists paradise.

Leisure and business tourism has been encouraged at Pachmarhi, Khajuraho, Bhopal, Gwalior, Indore, Mainpat, Tamia, Raipur and Jabalpur. With facilities such as convention centres, exhibition grounds, shopping centres, golf courses and country clubs, these places are fast becoming a part of the global tourism map. An effort to provide budget accommodation, day shelters and cafeterias has meant good services even for the budget tourist.

A move that has paid rich dividends is the inclusion of private entrepreneurs in tourism projects. The government has made efforts to provide information, organise festivals and facilitate interdepartmental coordination to create conditions for private sector investment. Provision of fiscal incentives such as exemption from luxury tax, sales tax and entertainment tax for 10 years from the date of commencement of commercial operations and removal of bottlenecks, especially those related to infrastructure, have attracted a large number of investors to this sector.

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