A festival for India

Updated: Oct 04, 2019, 08:16 IST | Suman Mahfuz Quazi | Mumbai

The Tourism Board of India kicks off the Mumbai chapter of an annual parv to promote responsible domestic travel

After the Oval heritage walk
After the Oval heritage walk

It is possible to relate with the apprehensions bothering Neela Lad, regional director, Indiatourism, Mumbai (Office of the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India). "How many of us know our own city well?

Then, there is the quaint Khotachiwadi and Mazgaon Docks, where many families organise breakfast meals for visitors," Lad shares, lamenting the lack of awareness around the heritage and culture of Mumbai. This is a phenomenon that can be seen in other Indian cities, too, and while it is the task of the tourism board of any government to address tourism-related issues and promote it through various schemes for those visiting from other countries, Lad shares that the government body is increasingly looking inwards.

Glimpses from the trip at the National Museum

The ongoing Paryatan Parv — a pan-India tourism festival organised by the Ministry of Tourism — hopes to do just that by educating Indians about the cultural significance of their own city and country. "We want to encourage domestic tourism and inspire people to look at their own cities in a new light," she explains, adding that finding the balance between tourism and governance is another goal of the initiative, too.

This means including within their fold all aspects of tourism, from the taxi drivers to immigration officers so as to give the unstructured and unorganised nature of ancillary tourism industries some form. To that end, this festival has several programmes that hope to educate players at the grassroots level in a bid to sensitise them and ensure better quality of travel in India.

Neela Lad
Neela Lad

But since the primary motive is to spark off an interest in domestic travel, the festival — which was originally launched in 2017 and kicked off across India on October 2 — includes several events and activities that offer a peak into the rich history and culture of different Indian states.

For example, in Mumbai, the events range from the recently-concluded heritage tours in Bassein fort, Gateway of India, covering Art Deco sites and Gothic architecture, and a Mahatma Gandhi-themed walk from August Kranti Maidan to Mani Bhavan, to upcoming activities like a walking tour from Bhikha Behram well to Esplanade Mansion and Victoria Terminus (now CSMT) as well as a heritage tour of the General Post Office building and museum. Film, too, has been woven into the festival with several screenings scheduled through the 11-day affair.

Log on to tourism.gov.in (for details on all the events, exact dates and timings)
Note: All events under this festival are free of cost

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