The religious destinations are no longer just places of worship. The
tourism industry is realising the vast untapped potential of religious
spots as the new destination of choice. And if one was to say that
religious tourism in the country has taken a new dimension with the coming
up of luxury hotels in religious destinations across the country, then it
won't be an exaggeration.
Many of the leading chains of hotels like Ista, Radisson, Country Inn and
Suites by Carlton have opened their hotels in popular religious spots such
as Haridwar, Amritsar, Katra and Varanasi to name a few.
The fact that the pilgrims are not ready to compromise on facilities and
comfort and opt for luxury hotels vis-Ã -vis staying in a dharamshala,
seems to have led to this trend of luxury hotels coming up in religious
spots. Kuldeep Sharma, Manager operations, Country Inn & Suites by
Carlson, Katra says, "Vaishno Devi shrine sees numerous visitors
throughout the year. And we have seen that the pilgrims go for comfort,
even if they have to pay high for it." Rajiv Kumar Rai, director sales at
Radisson Varanasi says, "For pilgrims, safety and hygiene are most
important when deciding where they want to stay."
Most luxury hotels aim at making the trip a memorable experience for
devotees. Sharma says, "Today, being religious does not mean abstinence
luxury and comfort." Affluent travellers from across key cities in India
are combining religious destination visits with rest and relaxation in
luxurious confines. "We have a growing segment of NRIs and foreign
tourists visiting from UK, Israel, US, Germany, and Thailand and they
expect nothing less from us. Also, many newly-wed Sikh and Punjabi couples
from over the world, come to seek the divine blessings," adds Sharma.
We were invited to one of such luxury hotel called Ista in Amritsar. The
hotel which is the only five star hotel in Amritsar, is doing great
business thanks to the pilgrims, who go to visit The Golden Temple.
Located at about a half-hour drive from the Amritsar International Airport
and just about five kilometres from The Golden Temple, the hotel has a
courteous staff, and great ambience to the delectable food. Once you are
here, we recommend you to visit the spa at the hotel, which is run by
therapists trained by Ananda in the Himalayas.
Where to stay in Amritsar: Ista Amritsar, Main GT Road, Amritsar
How to reach there:
By Air: Raja Sani International Airport is well connected through Jet
Airways, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Air India
By Rail: Delhi is directly connected to Amritsar via rail route. It takes
about 8 to 10 hours to reach Amritsar by train.