Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Urgent need to promote tourism in Bidar

The proposed tourism plaza will provide tourists with details on places to visit, like the Ibrahim Rauza, in Vijayapura.— FILE PHOTO

An initiative to promote tourism in north Karnataka is scheduled to begin in Bengaluru on Wednesday. North Karnataka observers say it is long overdue. North Karnataka has great tourism potential. But promotion efforts by the government and other stake holders have been few and patchy, they say. For example, Bidar that earned a place on the World Monuments Watchlist in 2014, is yet to appear on the bucket list of tourists. The challenges are many — protection of monuments, beautification of the city, ease of travel, good hotels, reliable information about the city and guides. Moves to boost sale of Geographical Indication-tagged Bidri art would add to these efforts.

The mountaintop town that served as the capital of medieval Deccan, has 98 monuments. However, only three national monuments are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and 14 by the State Archaeology Department.

“After 67 years of independence, the State government has posted a tourism development officer to the district. This shows how indifferent it was to our cause all these years,” says B.G. Shetkar, president of the Bidar Chamber of Commerce and Industries.

There are only around 100 families engaged in Bidri art left in the city now. “They need logistics and marketing support. Most artisans are illiterate or uneducated. They need training in new designs and in finding remunerative markets, says Abdul Bari, a young Bidri artisan.

“Bidar needs a quality hotel,” says Helen Phillon, historian and founder of India Deccan Foundation. It should be spotlessly clean, serve hygienic food and should have friendly staff who can give information about tourist places around the city, she said.

According to Sanjyant Kumar, a travel enthusiast, the government should promote adventure tourism in the hills around the city, the moat surrounding the fort or the Karez, the underground water supply system built in the 15th century.

P.C. Jaffer, Deputy Commissioner. “The district heritage committee constituted last year is documenting the monuments and other places of tourist interest. We are also working with Wikipedians to increase the number of articles about Bidar on Wikipedia and put up QR codes near monuments,” he said. The Yeshwatnpur –Bidar train will become a daily

from January 20. We are in touch with investors who can start an eco-tourism hotel. We are also trying to put up an exhibition cum sale venue for Bidri art, the DC said.