‘With Ramaland, the tourism department is looking to attract children and adults alike. It’ll be learning with entertainment.’
To position Ayodhya as a global tourism hotspot, the Uttar Pradesh government is planning to develop a theme park called “Ramaland”, which will be modelled on Disneyland, to narrate the legendary tales of Lord Ram and Ramayana.
“With Ramaland, the tourism department is looking to attract children and adults alike. It’ll be learning with entertainment,” Mukesh Meshram, UP principal secretary, tourism and culture, told Business Standard.
Also, a cruise on the Saryu river is in the works and will be launched in the coming months.
“The government has presented its UP Tourism Policy 2022 and companies are showing keen interest in different hospitality and tourism infrastructure projects,” Meshram said.
He said the state government has also planned to set up six grandiose arched gateways on the roads leading to Ayodhya.
“There are six different roads leading to Ayodhya from Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Gonda, Ambedkarnagar, etc. Each gateway complex will be named after characters from Ramayana and comprise tourism facilities, such as yoga centres, food courts, dormitories, etc,” he said.
Moreover, private hotel chains are in talks with the erstwhile royal family of Ayodhya for converting palaces into heritage properties and offer a regal experience to tourists and backpackers.
With the construction of the Ram temple nearing completion, the government is expediting the ongoing and proposed projects in Ayodhya.
A large number of marquee hotel and hospitality chains in both luxury and budget categories, such as the Taj group, Radisson, ITC, and OYO, have made a beeline for launching projects in the temple town.
Since, the arrival of tourists to Ayodhya is estimated to double from 20 million in 2022 to 40 million over the next 8-9 years, hospitality majors are bullish about the temple town.
“More than 25 hoteliers have already registered with our portals. In the coming months, we are expecting nearly two dozen more companies to follow suit,” Meshram said. The state will provide a 25 per cent capital subsidy on investment; women and SC/ST entrepreneurs will be offered an additional 5 per cent subsidy.
“Our tourism policy is the most attractive and lucrative policy for the hospitality sector because, after the Covid pandemic, they need some kind of financial support. We have been successful in getting a large number of proposals for hotels and resorts,” the official further said.
According to reports, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL) of the Taj group plans to launch two properties in Ayodhya, while hotel aggregator OYO is looking to add a number of hotel and homestay units to its bouquet.
Currently, there are about 18 quality hotels in Ayodhya with a combined inventory of 600 rooms. But demand for rooms is expected to witness a quantum leap once the Ram temple is opened for devotees and tourists by the end of this year or early next year.
The proposed Ayodhya international airport is under construction and is expected to catalyse the metamorphosis of the sleepy religious town into a major tourism hub in India.
Besides, a string of other projects, such as light and sound show, wellness centres, ayurveda panchakarma centres, tent city, wayside amenities, are also in the works.
The planned transformation of Ayodhya is estimated to cost Rs 30,000 crore to the exchequer, under the ‘Ayodhya Vision 2047’ theme. These funds are targeted to be invested in about 260 projects pertaining to tourism, aviation, infrastructure, housing, medical, energy, culture, urban development, transport, etc.
The expenditure will be incurred jointly by the central and the UP governments. These projects include Smart City Mission, widening of roads, modern bus terminals, unclogging the overhead electricity supply cables, beautification of ghats, and cultural centres.
The sum of Rs 30,000 crore does not comprise the cost of the Ram temple. The project has been undertaken by a trust, ‘Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra’, with the requisite funds being raised through private donations and crowd-funding.
Last year, trust general secretary and senior Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Champat Rai said the temple would cost Rs 1,800 crore based on the latest revised estimate.
Meanwhile, the Deepotsav festival coinciding with Diwali has been celebrated with utmost grandeur and opulence in Ayodhya in recent years. It has fetched an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for lighting the largest number of earthen lamps (diyas) in successive Diwalis.
The Ayodhya Municipal Corporation has also signed an MoU with the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore, to develop the temple town as an international tourist hub.