IPL rush may leave sleepy Dharamsala with a headache
This is one grand rush for which this sleepy hill resort might not be ready. With Dharamsala all set to host two IPL matches in April, the tourism industry is working overtime to ensure that the cricketing and Bollywood stars — and their entourage — leave with pleasant memories, reports Gaurav Bisht.cricket Updated: Mar 23, 2010 23:38 IST
This is one grand rush for which this sleepy hill resort might not be ready. With Dharamsala all set to host two IPL matches in April, the tourism industry is working overtime to ensure that the cricketing and Bollywood stars — and their entourage — leave with pleasant memories.
According to records available with the Tourism Department, there are about 56 registered hotels and guesthouses in and around Dharamsala having a total capacity of 1,100 beds, while the internationally renowned McLeodganj can accommodate another 1,000. But the IPL rush could be 10 times more.
No wonder, the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) officials are a worried lot. Officials of the Kings XI Punjab, co-owned by Bollywood star Preity Zinta, have asked the HPCA to book 1,000 rooms.
HPCA officials have booked more than 500 rooms to accommodate the players, media and others associated with the IPL. In the absence of five-star hotels, the HPCA had undertaken a project --- The Pavilion --- to create accommodation for international players. But due to paucity of time, it has been able to create only 32 rooms in the two wooden cottages at Kand village.
Initially, the HPCA had planned to build 90 luxurious rooms for accommodating the players. "We know that the hill town has its limitations but we believe that the beauty of the town will leave the visitors spell-bound," said HPCA president Anurag Thakur, who is confident that the IPL matches will go a long way in promoting tourism in the hill town.
"We could not complete the cottages meant for accommodating players in time but it shows our commitment to the promotion of cricket," he added.
"Some hotels in towns around Dharamsala have also been booked," said HPCA spokesman Sanjay Sharma. The first match between Kings XI Punjab and the Deccan Chargers will held on April 16, while the second --- between Delhi Daredevils and Deccan Chargers --- will take place two days later, for which the HPCA has requested Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to be the chief guest.
Despite serious concerns over accommodation, major hotels have begun cashing in on the sporting event. Although the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation is showing little interest, private hotels and travel agents have undertaken a major marketing drive to popularise the town.
"I have undertaken a major renovation work in my hotel. Rooms have been refurbished and televisions sets replaced with LCD screens," says BK Garg, owner of Asia Health Resorts located three km from McLeodganj.