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Now, a Modi tourist circuit in Gujarat

May 23, 2014 12:14 IST

Now, a Modi tourist circuit in Gujarat

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Sohini Das in Ahmedabad

Tourism in Gujarat stands Modi-fied.

A tour operator in Ahmedabad has come up with an idea to start what he calls Modi Tourism (to capitalise on Narendra Modi), taking people to the Modi’s hometown of Vadnagar in Mehsana district.

The idea is from Manish Sharma, owner of Akshar Travels and chairman of Gujarat Tourism Development Society.  

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Image: Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi wears a garland presented to him by his supporters at a public meeting in Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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His idea of a ‘Modi circuit’ for tourists is likely to be taken up by others, too, as he works closely with a group of tour operators across the state.

“There is a lot of interest in Narendra Modi.

“He is a hugely popular leader and the recent landmark victory, coupled with the media attention, has enhanced the mind-space he occupies among people here.  

“Many, including young school children, would be interested in visiting his hometown,” said Sharma.

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Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Akshar has added an option to visit Vadnagar for those visiting the famous Sun temple at Modhera, near Mehsana town, or even those visiting the historical town of Patan, 64 km from Vadnagar.

The latter, a medieval city and arguably the earliest capital of Gujarat, is also an attraction in its own right. Archaeology enthusiasts visit for its famous torans (gates) that once enclosed the city.

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Image: A general view of Johapura area is pictured in Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters

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The idea now is for tourists to also visit Modi’s old house, school, and other such spots made popular through the media.

There is also a recently published comic book, Bal Narendra by Ranade Prakashan, depicting childhood stories of Modi.  

Designed by Blue Snail Animation, it contains 17 stories inspired by real-life incidents from Modi’s childhood, such as selling tea with his father at the railway station or swimming in crocodile-infested waters. Akshar plans to take tourists to these spots, too.

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Image: Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters

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Now, a Modi tourist circuit in Gujarat

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Even tourists from outside the state who visit Ahmedabad might be interested in a “Modi circuit”, Sharma said.

As day-tours are on the rise during summer holidays, many would be keen to visit Modi’s birthplace.  

Enquiries have started flowing in already, he said.

Data from the Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation shows 13 million Gujaratis travelled within the state in 2009-10 and the number had swelled to 19.5 mn in 2012-13.

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Image: Narendra Modi with Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.
Photographs: Reuters

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The added good news for these tour operators is that tourist travel within Gujarat has also picked up substantially in the past one or two years.

M Vakharia, head of the Gujarat chapter of the Outbound Tour Operators of India, says a major reason is the popular 'Khushboo Gujarat ki' campaign anchored by filmstar Amitabh Bachchan.

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Image: Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons.

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The campaign also had a chapter to encourage school children to travel within the state.

Sharvil Patel, who runs Altius Travels, an Ahmedabad-based agency and a member of the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India, says he's handled almost double the number of tourists travelling to nearby locations within the state compared to last year.  

"It was clearly evident from the number of car rental bookings we were handling," he says.

Data from the Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation shows 13 million Gujaratis travelled within the state in 2009-10 and the number had swelled to 19.5 mn in 2012-13.


Image: A child holds a national flag.
Photographs: Reuters

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