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.


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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