Tent city to come up on sandy Ganga bank in Varanasi on the lines of Konark
The ancient pilgrim city of Varanasi, that is witnessing a host of developmental activities, including the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, will have a tent city on the sprawling sandy eastern bank of the Ganges, opposite the iconic city ghats, offering serenity and tranquillity to foreign and domestic tourists, said officials.
If all goes well, the tent city is likely to be ready by October 2021 and will stay for three to five months, after which it will be dismantled and then reassembled the following year. It will come up along a five-kilometre stretch of the river on the lines of the nature camps at Konark in Odisha, according to officials familiar with the matter.
It is not possible to keep the tent city going in the monsoon due to the flooded banks. The duration of the tent city will more or less coincide with the tourist season. The arrival of foreign tourists begins in Varanasi in large numbers from the last week of September.
Around a month ago, a team of officials visited the Konark nature camps on the instructions of Varanasi divisional commissioner Deepak Agarwal to collect details, ranging from setting up the camps or tented accommodations and their management. They submitted a detailed report.
Agarwal said, “Instructions have been given to the tourism department officials to prepare the DPR (detailed project report) of the tent city as soon as they can so that further steps to materialise the project can be taken.”
Agarwal also held a meeting with officials of the tourism department around a week ago.
A monitoring committee and a technical-cum-executive committee for setting up the tent city have been constituted by the divisional commissioner. The monitoring committee is chaired by divisional commissioner and the executive-cum-technical committee by district magistrate Kaushalraj Sharma.
Sharma said, “We will hold a meeting with officials of different departments and experts to chart out a complete plan for the tent city. Experts will give their suggestions on facilities in the tented accommodation, security arrangements and duration of the tent city, (whether) it should be for three months or five months.”
These suggestions will be incorporated in the DPR which is likely to be ready by the first week of April.
The tent city is likely to have 500 beds and be equipped with electricity supply, water supply, a washroom and a bio-toilet each. Roughly, each tent accommodation will be 200 to 300 square feet in area. There will be three types of tents — deluxe, semi deluxe and normal, the official added.
Under the guidance of the district administration, the department was planning to develop the tent city in public private partnership (PPP) mode, said regional tourism officer (Varanasi) Keertiman Srivastava.
Tenders will be floated to select a firm for developing and running the tent city, said the divisional commissioner. The tender was likely to be floated in the first week of June, said a senior official.
After selection, the firm, in coordination with the tourism department, will develop the tent city under the supervision of the monitoring committee. It is to be decided whether the company will pay bills for water and electricity supply and other facilities to be provided by the municipality and the rent for the land to be provided by the district administration or if it will share revenue from the project, with the potential to generate direct and indirect employment for 4,000 locals.
The divisional commissioner hoped the tent city will help give a fillip to the tourism industry in Varanasi by attracting foreign tourists in large numbers and domestic tourists in sufficient numbers, enabling all of them to enjoy the scenic view of the ghats while sitting in their tents at night.
Rahul Mehta of the tourist welfare association said the tent city will attract those foreign tourists who wanted to spend most of their time along the Ganga, sitting silently for hours and watching the river flow calmly.
In 2020, around 10 lakh domestic tourists visited Varanasi in January, February and March. In addition, around 70,000 foreign tourists visited Varanasi before the last week of March last year. After the Unlock phase began in June, over a lakh domestic tourists visited Kashi till December, according to people familiar with the matter in the tourism department.