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Madhya Pradesh lines up big tourism plans

By Jamaluddin Ahmed
September 27, 2007 13:22 IST
The Madhya Pradesh government is considering a proposal to launch 'Malwa Odyssey', a luxury train on the lines of 'Palace on Wheels' in Rajasthan, linking its tourist destinations with Bhopal.

A suggestion in this regard was first made by the Indian Heritage Hotels Association which submitted a detailed report to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan last week on ways to boost tourism in the state.

The association has stressed on the need for running such a train, to attract domestic and foreign tourists, connecting Ujjain, Indore, Shivpuri, Gwalior, Satna, and Jabalpur with Bhopal.

The association in its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Bhopal also submitted a list of heritage sites to be developed as hotels and resorts, saying it would open a huge tourism opportunity for the state.

Chouhan, who met Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and Tourism Minister Ambika Soni in New Delhi some time back, has sought Central assistance to boost tourism in Madhya Pradesh.

He also requested the railway minister for a rail ink for the historical sites in the state to provide easy access to places of tourist importance in Madhya Pradesh which are either untapped or did not get prominence due to lack of connectivity.

Chouhan, however said the state government was doing its best to connect the destinations through road to facilitate entry of tourists, both Indian and foreigners, by road.

Efforts were also being made to connect major tourist attractions including Sanchi, Khajurao, Gwalior, Pachmarhi, Datia, Jabalpur, Rewa, Tikamgarh, Mandu and Maihar (Satna).

The state government was also planning a Son-et-Lumiere (light and sound) show at Mandu fort, Ujjain temples, old Taj Mahal at Bhopal, Islam Nagar fort near Bhopal in conjuction with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) or India Tourism Development Corporation.

Initiatives have also been taken to improve visitors' management system at Mandu Fort, as well as at Sanchi, Orchha, Bhimbetka, Gwalior on the lines of Ajanta and Ellora caves, the official said.

The state government was also considering to form a state level Tourism Advisory Board, consisting of government departments and tourism industry stake holders, to promote tourist destinations through marketing and publicity materials, tourism friendly literature and signages in different languages.

The government also plans to establish better connectivity to these places through train and air, by air taxis and helicopter services.      

Apart from this, the state's tourism ministry has identified 16 private properties owned by the erstwhile royals to convert them into heritage tourism destinations. The objective is to promote tourism and protect the heritage sites, the official said.

The list of 16 heritage sites were forwarded by the Indian Heritage Hotels Association to the chief minister in its recent meeting in Bhopal. These include assets at Berasia (Bhopal), Chhatarpur, Gwalior, Datia, Jabalpur, Mandu, Tikamgarh and Maihar (Satna).

These sites were selected by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Ministry after a survey to convert them into heritage hotels, lodges and resorts.

Association president Maharaja Gaj Singh told PTI that the chief minister has invited them in November for a detailed discussion on the development of these sites.

The 16 sites identified by the state government are Alipura Garhi (Chhatarpur), Datia Qila, Pili Kothi and Narayan Singh Mahal (Datiua), Raja Gokul Ballabh Mahal (Jabalpur), Jamnia Gaddi (Mandu), Tikamgarh Palace, and Maihar Qila (Maihar, Satna).

At present, Welcome group has six heritage hotels at Bhopal, Jabalpur, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pachmarhi and Ujjain.

Rakesh Mathur, President, ITC Welcome hotels group told PTI that we are looking at the proposals on whether these sites could be developed or not, as per our system but emphasised that the government should develop proper infrastructure first.

Madhya Pradesh has every thing except necessary infrastructure for the development of tourism in the state Maharaja Gaj Singh said.

Pushparaj Singh, Maharaja of Rewa and a member of the Heritage Hotels Association told PTI that he was in favour of developing museum hotels besides adventure, health and educational tourism for foreigners and provide them detailed information and recreation with regard to India adventure, herbal healthcare and history.

Jamaluddin Ahmed
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