8. Tourism and History

8.1 Tourism in the Past

The tradition of travelling is quite old in India. People used to travel for various reasons like pilgrimage, going to local fairs and festivals, in search of a renowned teacher and good education, for trade, etc. In brief, from ancient times people took to travelling for various reasons.

Tourism : Tourism can be defined as travelling to visit places in distant regions for a specific purpose. In the latter half of the 19th century C.E. the name of Thomas Cook is noteworthy in the context of tourism history. He organised a trip by railway from Leicester to Loughborough for about 600 people. Later he was successful in Organising a round trip of Europe. Eventually he established a travel agency selling tourist tickets. This early venture of Thomas cook opened doors for the development of modern tourism.

8.2 Types of Tourism

These days tourism has become an independent field of local, interstate, national and international business. The desire to visit national and international monuments, places of historical importance and natural beauty, ancient centres known for handicrafts, pilgrim centres, industrial centres and sites of various developmental projects, etc. promotes tourism. Tourists from all over the world wish to visit natural and manmade sites, which offer a delightful and awe inspiring experience. The places like snow-capped peaks, beaches, pristine jungles, which were neglected previously, became important locations of tourist interests. Mass media began to make special audio-visual presentations highlighting places of tourist interest. Tourism can be broadly typified into local tourism, interstate tourism, international tourism, religious tourism, historical tourism, health tourism, science tourism, agro-tourism, sports tourism, tourism based on special events, etc.

Local and Interstate Tourism : This kind of tourism is not very overwhelming because it is within one’s own country. It does not cause difficulties of language, procuring currency and documents. More so, we can plan it at the time suitable to us.

International Tourism : Nowadays, it has become easier to travel because of the easy availability of a number of options of railway, marine and air transport. Marine transport has linked the coastal regions. There is a trans-European railway route. Aviation has brought the entire world closer. Because of the economic liberalisation policy of the Indian government the number of people travelling back and forth from India has increased considerably. They include people travelling for studies, relaxation, sightseeing, and professional assignments (meetings, agreements, etc.), also for shooting of films, etc. One needs to procure various official documents for travelling abroad.

Historical Tourism : This type of tourism is popular all over the world. Tours to historical places are arranged to satisfy people’s interest in history. It can be noted in this context that Gopal Neelkanth Dandekar, a renowned Marathi writer used to arrange hiking tours to forts in Maharashtra, to explore the sights closely linked to Chhatrapti Shivaji Maharaj and his achievements.

Tours are also arranged to important historical sites in India such as forts in Rajasthan, Ashrams of Mahatma Gandhi and Acharya Vinoba Bhave, important places related to the Indian war of independence in 1857, etc.

Geographic Tourism : This type of tourism involves visiting places to observe special geographic features of a region. It includes various natural and animal sanctuaries, places like valley of flowers (Uttarakhand), various beaches, unique geographical wonders like the crater lake at Lonar and ranjankhalage (naturally carved out cavities in rocks) at Nighoj in Maharashtra. Many tourists like to visit these places to satisfy their curiosity.

Health Tourism : People from the western countries find the health services and facilities in India comparatively cheaper and yet of good standard. Hence, many foreigners preferred to come to India to avail of the medical facilities and health services. India is a tropical country, where ample sunlight is available throughout the year. This attracts tourist from countries with cold climate to India. Availability of facilities for Yoga training and therapies based on Ayurveda is one more reason to want to visit India.

Agro-Tourism : Agro-tourism, which is also known as agri-tourism, is rapidly developing, especially meant for the urban population, which has very little exposure to rural life and agriculture. Now, Indian farmers are also visiting faraway places like agricultural research centres, agricultural universities, and countries like Israel where experimentation in advanced technology of agriculture is carried out.

Sports Tourism : Sports tourism was developed in the 20th century. There are various sports events organised on international level like Olympics, Wimbldon, World Chess Championship and international cricket tournaments, etc. While there are events like ‘Himalayan Car Rally’ on national level, events like ‘Maharashtra Kesari’ Wrestling competitions are organised on state level. Travelling to attend such events comes under sports tourism.

Tourism based on Special Events : People want to travel and they are often on the lookout for special reasons to do it. In the 21st century it has become common to organise such events, which also help to promote tourism. Film festivals, various types of seminars and conferences, international book exhibitions, etc. are examples of such special events. People keep visiting several places to attend such special events. Many literature enthusiasts in Maharashtra travel every year to attend ‘Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan’ (Pan Indian Marathi Literary Convention).

8.3 Development of Tourism

The crucial issue in the development of tourism is providing proper guidance to national and international tourists about various aspects of the actual travel, proper social conduct during the tour and during their stay at the destination places.

Giving priority to ensure safe transport and security facilities for the tourists, amenities of reasonably good standard, availability of good accommodation, good washroom facilities on the travel routes is of great significance in promoting tourism. It is also very important to pay special attention to the special needs of handicapped tourists.

It is important to take a few primary precautions in order to preserve the historical heritage sites. It is essential that few things should be avoided at any instance, for example: vandalising or defacing the heritage monuments and sites. In order to avoid it everybody should refrain from activities like writing on walls or carving on trees, paint ancient monuments in garish colours, etc. Lack of good amenities in the precincts of the heritage sites causes filthiness.

It is very essential for the tourists that pamphlets, guides and history books about a tourist site be available in their own language. Hence, such literature should be made available in various languages. It would be helpful if the taxi drivers are trained to converse in more than one languages. They may also be trained as tourist guides.

8.4 Conservation and Preservation of Heritage

It is a hard task to preserve and conserve heritage sites. Our country is very rich with historical sites dating to ancient, medieval and modern period. It is also blessed with abundance of nature.

Heritage of any country is divided into, Natural Heritage and Cultural (manmade) Heritage. There are some Heritage Sites in India, which are acclaimed globally, such as Taj Mahal at Agra, Jantar Mantar observatory at Jaipur, and also the rock-cut caves at Ajanta, Verul and Gharapuri (Elephanta), Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Railway Terminus in Maharashtra. Kas Plateau in Maharashtra is located in the Western Ghats, which is a World Natural Heritage site.

There are tourists all over the world, who wish to visit world heritage sites. Foreign tourists come in large numbers to visit the heritage sites in our country. It makes us feel very proud when an Indian heritage site is declared as a world heritage site. However, whenever we visit such places we feel very disappointed because of what we see there. We get to see that people have written their names with charcoal; have drawn pictures, vandalising the heritage site. It affects our image as a nation. To preserve the heritage sites we need to resolve that :

(1) I shall strive to maintain the cleanliness of heritage sites.

 (2) I shall not do anything, which will result in vandalising of any historical site.

8.5 Professional Opportunities in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry

Tourism and Hospitality is an industry with potential to create maximum employment opportunities. If managed professionally, it is a very stable industry. It has tremendous scope for experimentation and innovation.

A good number of opportunities of employment are available in the tourism and hospitality industry. The country which is a tourist destination begins to receive revenue even before a tourist arrives at the airport of that country. He has to pay for his visa. He spends for his travel, stay in hotels, food, payment to translators and guides, buying newspapers, reference books, souvenirs, etc. This contributes to the growth of economy of that country.

Markets in the vicinity grow along with the development of a tourist centre. Hence, the local handicrafts and cottage industries also begin to develop. The demand for locally processed food items and ethnic handicrafts increases. It results in better income for local artisans, business people and wage earners.

Development of Tourism in Maharashtra : Maharashtra is a state blessed with rich heritage. The muchadmired rock-cut caves, paintings and sculptures of Ajanta, Verul and Gharapuri (Elephanta); pilgrim centres like Dehu, Alandi, Jejuri, Pandharpur, Shirdi, Shegaon, Tulajapur, Kolhapur, Nashik, Tryambakeshwar, Paithan, Haji Malang, Gurudvara at Nanded, Mount Mary Church in Mumbai, etc.; hill stations like Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Khandala, Lonavala, Matheran, Chikhaldara, etc.; dams at Koyananagar, Jayakwadi, Bhatghar, Chandoli, etc. and sanctuaries at Dajipur, Sagareshwar, Tadoba, etc. are among the important tourist centres in Maharashtra.

The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation was set up in 1975. It helped in the development of tourism in Maharashtra. The corporation has provided facilities of tourist hotels at 47 places. Together these hotels can accommodate more than 4000 tourists. Many private entrepreneurs are also providing hospitality services to tourists.