Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ethical Hotels India inc.

Having visited quite a few pilgrimage centers in the recent past, I have come across a common theme in most places. The only exception is, perhaps, Tirupati - where things are organized. I am convinced that there is a strong business case for decent comforts at most, if not all, pilgrimage spaces.

I like to visit places of pilgrimage, especially ones with historical or traditional importance. So, in the past 2 odd years, I have visited Sun Temple Konark, Puri Jagannath, Tirupati, Guruvayoor, Vaikom, Sravanabelagola, Belur, Habelid, Raghavendra Swami ashram at Mantralayam among others. Recently I visited Chidambaram (a story in itself), Thirukadaiyur (and in the process that Tamil Nadu has, perhaps millions of historically significant temples - and made a note to visit them at some point in time of my life) and a couple of others en route. For one, without a vehicle, it is almost impossible to cover the whole series of temples in TN and even then there are so many temples there that it is a whole tour in itself. I am surprised that TN does not seem to want to popularize these - it does not do it actively in any case.

Coming to the business case, with Ginger, we have a nice not-over-the-top business hotel. I wish someone extended this concept to pilgrimage centers in India - value for money hotels. I am confident, they will mint money.

What is expected is very simple. Clean rooms, clean loos, clean sheets. Just a basic room - no TV either- ditch those carpeted floors, just basic mosaic will do like Tirupatis simple cottages - you can add an Airconditioned option in some of the hotter places. Food that is edible - perhaps local, perhaps with a vegetarian dominant theme, perhaps very simple hygienic food. Does this sound reasonable? Yes. Is it easy to get this at all (okay, even the ones I have named) pilgrimage spots in India? No. Quality is food is abysmal. Getting a decent room without being fleeced is next to impossible. Overcharging is a norm. And, many devotees endure this torture because they take it as if "god" intended that for them, which is stupid. If you can tie it together in a tourist circuit by having a hotel in a hub and offer conducted tours/visits, better.

What are the downsides? Well, real estate could be a problem, but many of these are located in reasonably far off places. There is a business case out there for this, if you can market the history, spirituality, architecture and then some with the whole story of Incredible India.

3 comments:

Kavi said...

Yes.. They could throw in a good guide too ! Its so very required..Wonder what the Tourism & culture ministries are doing.

yes..Tirupati is an apt example !

Neelakantan said...

Tourism and culture ministries are trying their best to see that these places dont exist, IMHO

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