From a town to a city, Ayodhya is India’s newest destination
After almost seventy years of being embroiled in controversy the birth place of Lord Rama, Ayodhya gets its much awaited temple. Of course this temple is an edifice of faith and religious beliefs of millions of Hindus world-over and its importance cannot be reduced by any new dispute or controversy that may be brought up for any political gains or ambitions. It is now time to accept Ayodhya without raising an iota of doubt or questing anything around it. As it is faith is a personal choice and should never be questioned in the light of any fact or history even though it may be opposite in views or in records.
For a long time Ayodhya’s development as a modern Indian city had paused and the controversy around the disputed site of Lord Rama’s birth place always overshadowed any development of this town which had all the potential to become a city. On another front, development or call it an ‘unplanned development ‘, many a times destroys the heritage and social fabric of such small towns that many a times if untouched look beautiful. At the moment the joy and happiness around Ayodhya is so much that no one is thinking of such pitfalls that may be encountered now. The best way to counter such an unplanned development is to first of all bring in an act that accords of Heritage status to at least a limited municipal area of the temple town so that a sudden change and demolitions do not take place disturbing the facade of this town.
Over all beautification of Ayodhya is not only much needed by is actually deserving too. We should see this town as a new tourist destination and model it around that concept, scaling it up in times to come with the growing traffic. This would only be possible if simultaneously along with a master plan of Ayodhya we also have a ‘Tourism Plan’ detailing the development in that direction.
The major revamp plan includes a commercial airport that will be expanded to an international airport, remodeling of Ayodhya railway station and bus terminus, allocation of land for hotels and resorts, multi-level parking, museum dedicated to Ramayana, amphitheatre, beautification and widening of roads, Ghats of river Saryu, interpretation centers, up-gradation of Ayodhya Research Center and many other that are not only important but much required.
Ayodhya’s proximity to the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is only one and a half hours. This is both boon and a bane for Ayodhya. Boon because it can become a feeding destination and number of excursionists to Ayodhya will multiply many times and bane that Ayodhya might miss out on overnight stays and room nights of upcoming hotels may not be encouraging. To counter this, it is imperative that a destination at least confers to the concept of ‘24/2 Activities Planning’ and a few excursions are developed around it to enhance it further, giving the destination a fair chance to qualify for a two nights destination if not more.
What is 24/2 Activities Planning
This concept relates to dividing a clock in two halves of twelve hours each. Half of the clock is personal that includes sleep and personal chores, while the second half is meant for tourism and recreational activities.
Anything confirming to 24/2+X in a destination is a very good excursion, while any destination that has activities equal to or greater than 12 hours is a good night stay destination. To further spread it out we see the following formula: (24/2)/3 = 4 phases that are enumerated as under:-
(0500-0800 hrs) Pre-Breakfast – Early morning sunrise activities, such as wildlife parks and Hindu religious destinations.
(0800-1200 hrs) Post Breakfast – Pre-Lunch: Urban sightseeing, monuments, museums etc.
(1400-1900 hrs) Post Lunch – Pre-Dinner: Urban sightseeing, monuments, museums, cultural shows, local crafts, shopping etc.
(1900 hrs-2200 hrs or beyond till 0200 hrs) Dinner/Post Dinner: Dining experiences, cultural shows, nightlife etc.
If any destination is planned based on this concept it sure has the capacity to transform excursionists into tourists and will be a crowd puller.
All destinations may not be worth for fitting in into each phase. But if we design the activities making this concept a base, we can be successful in holistically developing a destination.
Ayodhya is being seen as a new destination that can be a model for any other Indian religious destination.
Often it has been seen that destinations in India are not planned foreseeing tourism and such destinations surely attract tourists, local economy relies on it but at some stage destination goes through issues of unplanned tourism. Now that Ayodhya is being planned afresh, this is just the right time to take up tourism planning very seriously if we have to develop Ayodhya as a model tourist destination.
Prateek Hira (President & CEO of Tornos) is a tourism researcher and is presently working on the concept of ’24/2 Activity Planning’ that aims to change excursion destination as overnight and two nights destinations. For full research and consultancy for tourist destinations Prateek may be contacted through our company’s e-mail ID: firstname.lastname@example.org