I happened to read a ToI editorial today by architect and author Gautam Bhatia today. What he said there from an architect's perspective is actually true of India's modus operandi when it comes to maintenance of heritage sites. Not just that, India does happen to have a very rich history and heritage. And the ability to generate a lot of revenue through tourism, according to me is being squandered by us! Take for instance a place like Murud - on the Konkan coast. How do I know of its existence? Extensive Googling led me to a blog by a foreign visitor who was here on a 'discovery expedition' of sorts. Post a trip to the place, I realized that Murud has one of the most pristine beaches on the west coast. Imagine Goa without the clamoring tourists or salesmen! Plus, surprise surprise! A rickshaw guy there told me about a fort which can only be accessed by boat! Sounds exciting doesn't it? Well, it looks even better. You go by boat to the fort, and then you can actually explore the fort yourself! The fort is in a state of disrepair, screaming to be rescued. What really pained me, was the fact that such an amazing experience was not exploited to the max!
Simple stuff - Google up places to see in Mumbai. And trust me, you wouldn't come up with half the list of things to see in Mumbai. You'd perhaps now be directed to the morbid alternatives of terror tourism or slum tourism. But Mumbai also has a bunch of forts on the sea coast, some wonderful places offering shopping experiences you can find nowhere else, cuisines, churches and what not. But do we have a method to find these somewhere? Can a foreigner chart her own sightseeing trip around Mumbai?
Take Hyderabad now. We have the Chaarminaar, and Salarjung museum. How many of us who are not localites know of the beauty of these places? How many of us have even read or heard about such places? Or know about the history of these places?
Tourism in India is grossly underdeveloped, but can offer a whole host of options and opportunities. If only India's rich cultural heritage was given its due! I clipped the editorial for posterity here.