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Uttarakhand strives to move beyond religious, wildlife tourism

Uttarakhand government has moved ahead to promote the hill state in areas of adventure, wellness, history and heritage, and rural tourism

dehradun Updated: Sep 27, 2018 04:49 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand,Uttarakhand tourism,Religious tourism
A group from Mumbai heading towards Dronagiri hill. Uttarakhand tourism department recently organized a trekking camp.(HT File Photo)

Gone are the days when Uttarakhand was known only for its religious and wildlife tourism. The government has moved ahead to promote the hill state in areas of adventure, wellness, history and heritage, and rural tourism.

The Uttarakhand Tourism Draft Policy 2017 may have listed some burning challenges like disaster prone areas, unplanned tourism development and visitor management, the government and the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board are working tirelessly to spread awareness on the lesser known areas.

The policy says 22 million tourists (domestic and foreign) visited the state in 2014. This is expected to rise to 67 million by 2026.

A survey report by the World Tourism Organisation outlines that 58.2% foreign tourists visited the state for holiday/sightseeing, 21.9% for health/yoga and about 19.4% for religious reasons.

“The major sources of tourists are the US, Israel, Australia, Italy, Germany and Nepal. The most popular destinations for foreign tourists in Uttarakhand are Rishikesh, Haridwar, Gangotri, Uttarkashi, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Auli, Nainital and Gaumukh,” says the policy.

Nearly 44.2% Indian tourists visit the state for pilgrimage, 43.6% for holiday/sightseeing. Tourist influx is prominently reported from states like Delhi , Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Religious tourism

Char Dham yatra is considered to be one of the major attractions. Over 24 lakh pilgrims have visited the four shrines in Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath so far this year.

The tourism department is also popularising over three dozens of lesser known pilgrimage sites, including Jageshwar, Piran Kaliyar and Baijnath.

Plans are on to develop theme-based tourism spots at the Surya Temple in Almora, Himalaya Darshan at Mukteshwar in Nainital, boating at Satpuli and Khairasain in Pauri district, nature tourism in Chirbitiya Rudraprayag, water sports and trekking at Drona Sagar in US Nagar, Himalaya Darshan and Tea Tourism in Garud, Bageshwar, Mosta Mano nature trail in Pithoragarh, and corporate tourism at Gairsain.

Heritage tourism

Bageshwar district is known for the confluence of Saryu and Gomti rivers. But there’s more to this district that houses the Baghnath temple believed to have been constructed by Kumaon ruler Laxmi Chand in the 16th century. Binsar in Nainital was the summer capital of Chand Kings, the medieval Rajput clans that ruled the area around the 10th century. To promote such places with historical significance, plans are on to develop heritage tourism.

Wellness

After the celebration of International Yoga Day in Dehradun, Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised on the importance of Uttarakhand as a yoga centre. The government is promoting other areas of wellness and Ayurveda with plans afoot to develop circuits to promote the facilities

First Published: Sep 27, 2018 04:49 IST