As demonetisation hits tourists, Rajasthan govt allows free entry at monuments
The international cattle fair at Pushkar drew a blank and tourists, especially foreigners, visiting Rajasthan faced inconveniences on Wednesday following the central government’s sudden move to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
By the afternoon, state’s archaeology and museum department announced free entry at all its monuments.
Tourists at Jaipur’s forts and monuments, Bharatpur’s Keoladeo National Park, Alwar’s Sariska Tiger Reserve and Sawai Madhopur’s Ranthambore National Park faced troubles due to shortage of change at counters. Tourists who had booked safaris online had an easy run but those who went to book gypsies (at Sariska and Ranthambore) and rickshaws at Keoladeo had a difficult time.
Ravi Sharma, a tour operator in Jaipur, said his team had to pay entry fee with cheques. “Most places on tourists’ circuit – such as Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur, City Palace in Udaipur, Junagarh Fort in Bikaner and City Palace in Jaipur – are under control of private trusts. They refused to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes,” he said.
Nineteen gypsies carried 16 foreigner and 63 Indian tourists into Sariska reserve. “We accepted Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at the ticket counters but there was inconvenience because of shortage of change,” said Sariska’s DFO Balaji Kari.
In Bharatpur’s Keoladeo bird sanctuary, more than 400 tourists, half of them foreigners, visited the park and had problem after rickshaw-pullers and nature guides refused to accept the two denominations. “We accepted Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at ticket counters until afternoon when guidelines from department headquarters forbade us from taking these notes,” said park director Biju Joy.
Udaipur auto-rickshaw association president Mohammed Ashfaq said most tourists hiring autos had Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes and had to be refused rides. There are around 5,000 autos in Udaipur to go through narrow old city areas.
Demonetisation came as blow to traders at Pushkar cattle fair as there was no transaction on Wednesday. Bhim Rawat, a buffalo trader, said he was left with no money to buy animals after the government declared Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 as illegal tenders.
“Only two days are left to the fair and I am unlikely to get valid denominations of notes for any purchase. I will go empty hand this year,” he rued.
Bhanwar Rebari, who sold a camel for Rs 20,000, is worried about exchanging the amount with new notes. “I don’t have a bank account. If I don’t exchange these notes, I will be in debt,” he said.
(With inputs from Ajmer, Alwar, Bharatpur and Udaipur)