Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Undiscovered tourist spots

Name a few hill stations.

For the persons in the west of India it is Mahabaleshwar, Lonavla and Matheran. Mount Abu is on the radar too. Up north it is Shimla,Manali, Mussorie. East means Darjeeling. South means Ooty or Kodaikanal.

Apart from these "touristy" hill stations, there are relatively undiscovered spots. There are quite a few hill stations that are relatively undiscovered. The "undiscovered tourist spot" is an oxymoron. What makes a hill station or a tourist spot undiscovered? Lack of crowds, yet good facilities. Now this is usually a paradox. If there are fewer people, facilities arent great. If facilities are great, then there are too many people.

Most of our hillstations are the same. There is one big landmark. (The Lake in Ooty, Mall in Shimla, Bushy in Lonavla and so on.) This is usually surrounded by the usual chat wallahs, sugar candy and other snack sellers. Very rarely do we see local stuff in tourist spots. Why? Because the average Raju who goes to the tourist spot does not want to taste, say, a puttu in Kerala, he wants to have chaat or masala dosa. He seeks amusement parks for children and so on. Then, nobody wants to stay in anything that resembles anything other than a regular urban dwelling (read concrete monstrosities) with creature comforts. Result? Lonavla, Ooty are cities on a hill top complete with pollution and traffic. So, one hill station ends up looking exactly like another.

The lesser known places are for the more adventurous where food can be tricky, facilities can be lesser and "sightseeing" tours minimal. The undiscovered spots are left for the avid trekkers, nature enthusiasts and adventurers who are more into exploration and roughing it out and not for the comfort seeking tourist. Thats why the beaches in Konkan/Karnataka coast are undiscovered since they are far from the comfort zone of the regular circuit and a great visit for those willing to go that distance. Ditto for some of the lesser known hill stations or some of the more obscure spots in the touristy hill stations.

What can be done? Well, eco tourism for one. Restricted development (easier said than done) for another. Perhaps home stay options and regulation of bigger properties. But the key is perhaps get to the locals better involved in conservation and heritage, so that our hill stations dont end up as cities on hills.


Kaps said...

Munnar in Kerala is one of my favourites and it would probably fall under your undiscovered spots classification.

The other hill stations are quite overcrowded and hence it is a strict no no for me.

Neelakantan said...

Munnar is both discovered and undiscovered. Discovered because of the large number of people who visit it (every second or third honeymooner visits Munnar). Undiscovered because much of the land around Munnar used to be owned by Tata Tea (not sure if Tata tea - then Kannan devan holds those) and hence development is restricted. This in turn prevents an assault on the place by tourists.

Kaps said...

Tata Tea still owns most of it (Kannan Devan is part of their stable). Tata Tea has also been responsible for the social infrastructure in the area....schools, hospitals etc.

But the government can do something do promote the place.

Michael said...

Hill stations in India are a better place compared to the crowded and polluted cities but the only problem according to me was the availability of foods according to our preference. We were in groups and the Holiday villas we booked were more or less good. Attempts should be made to rectify this aspect keeping in mind the high influx of the tourists.

Daniel said...

This is really well thought out. If we want tourist places to retain their individual flavours and yet attract people but remain uncrowded, restricted development and eco-tourism are key aspects to look at.