Cover Story: From Desert to the Destination
The out of box imagination of Shri Narendra Modi developed Kutch desert into a highly preferred tourism destination in Gujarat
Gujarat and Gujaratis love tourism. I mean to say, Gujarat is a great centre of tourism and Gujaratis are great tourists who visit from Char Dham to Kanyakumari and from US to Thailand. But until Narendra Modi became Chief Minister and he decided to promote Gujarat tourism in a big way, Gujarat was lesser known for tourism. People from out of Gujarat used to visit Dwarika, Ambaji, Somnath and Palitana temples. Who had imagined that dry desert can also be a great spot for tourism? It can be only visionary person like Narendrabhai who can imagine and develop Kutch desert as tourism place.
| Kranti Teerth|
Mandavi is a city based in Kutch district. It has beautiful seashore. There is Vijay Vilas Palace which is historic. Many films like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ are shot here. And more over there is Kranti Teerth a memorial of Shyamji Krishna Varma who was great freedom fighter. Nobody thought to bring back his ashes from Geneva but Narendrabhai and then his birth place was developed as Kranti Teerth where one can know about freedom fighters.
Located 70 km away from Bhavnagar, the beach is on the Gulf of Khambat. It is rich in biodiversity and natural beauty. This beach is famous for Gopnath Temple where famous Krushna Bhakta and ‘Adya Kavi’ Narsimha Mehta pleased Bhagwan Shiva. Shiva gave him darshan. There are many beach places in this strip like Hathab, Kuda and Mahuva.
Nishkalank Mahadev temple is located in Koliyak village in Bhavnagar District. This temple is unique in a way. Bhagvan Shiv here is well-known as Nishkalank Mahadev. There an idol of Shiv is situated in an island, over the sea about 2 km to the east part of Koliyak village. That is very holy place. Sea itself performs Jalabhishek on Shiv Ling. It is believed that Pandavs’ sins got washed away here as they established Nishkalank Mahadev.
Blackbuck National Park
One remembers black buck well as it is alleged that Salman Khan killed blackbuck in Rajasthan. But this blackbuck national park is situated in the Bhavnagar district. It was established in 1976. Population of the park mainly includes blackbucks, wolves, Macqueen's bustards,
hyenas and lesser floricans, with foxes, jackals and jungle cats as the main carnivores. Other species include wild pigs, hares and rodents typical of the savannah type grasslands and thorn scrubs.
Pirotan Island is an Arabian Sea island. It is known for Marine National Park, Jamnagar District of Gujarat state, India. It is located at 12 nautical miles (22 km) off the coast (Bedi Port), and has mangroves and low-tide beaches. Here tourists can see various marine life forms that include various types of Crabs, Neptune, hermit crab, sea scorpion, wiper iscoceles, sea horse,octopus, etc.
Actually, Kutch was devastated after major earthquake in 2001. But due to BJP government’s pro-active efforts and the help of various religious organisations Kutch was developed like never before. At that time, Narendra Modi was doing great work all over Gujarat regarding road connectivity. Kutch was also included in it. In 2005, he decided to host Rann Utsav. He knew importance of marketing and promotion. So, his government promoted this festival in a big way. The festival provides glimpses of Kutch as well as Gujarat culture. Be it paintings or dance, dresses, handicraft things or any other cultural programme hosted during the festival, everything echoes Gujarati culture.
Narendrabhai also ropped in mega star Amitabh Bachchan in promotion of Gujarat tourism. Well written slogans like “Gujarat Naheen Dekha to Kutch Naheen Dekha”, “Kuchh Din to Guzariye Gujarat Mein” and “Khushboo Gujarat Kee”, and scripts, locations, direction and presence of Amitabh Bachchan in them made the advt campaign very popular. It helped in promoting Gujarat tourism very well. Even seven years after this campaign, state still manages to hold on to impressive growth rates in tourist footfalls. It has accomplished a 16.94 per cent growth in tourist arrivals in FY17 over the
Moreover, Narendra Modi promoted Navratri festival in big way by hosting Vibrant Navratra programme since 2004. This event projects not only Gujarati culture, but also national and international culture. Many national and international stars come here for performing arts. This festival also helps to promote Gujarat tourism.
This year present Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has taken it to next level by promoting ‘Selfie With Cow’! Seculars only love chicken and hate cows. Due to constant vicious
propaganda, new generation has also started to love chicken and hate cows. But in the Vibrant Navratri, four month old calf Saraswati was key attraction. Saraswati adorned in green Navratri dress wearing silver anklets and earrings. BJP leader and chairman of state Gauseva Ayog and Gauchar Vikas Board Vallabh Kathiria said, “Selfie with Saraswati’ is the cow board’s initiative to attract youth towards cow and inculcate love and respect towards gaumata”.
International Kite festival is also big opportunity to attract not only national tourists but also international tourists in a big way. Efforts started by Narendrabhai way back in 2010 to get Ahmedabad declared as world heritage city saw result this year when UNESCO made this announcement. This will help to boost Gujarat tourism and Gujarat culture.
CM Vijaybhai Rupani also launched Seema Darshan programme at zero point of Nadabet border in Banaskantha district. It is a concept of border tourism which helps tourists to realise how our Jawans live and fight at border and boosts not only tourism but patriotism in our countrymen too. Exhibition of arms, border view, film about BSF, retreat of Jawans, BSF fusion band, camel show and bird show are main attractions of this border tourism. Added attraction is darshan of Nadeshwari Mata.
And now Gujarat Tourism Corporation has added a new tourism package! It is named ‘Modi Tourism’! Tourists taking this package will get visit of Vadnagar and places around it. It is a well known fact that Vadnagar is birth place of Shri Narendra Modi. Gujarat can launch this type of tourism because Vadnagar became well developed during Modi government period and then afterwards Anandiben-Vijaybhai governments. Can there be Amethi or Raibareli tourism? Today Sabarmati River front has become one of the major tourist points. Before Narendra Modi took over as CM, Sabarmati used to be dry bed and youth used to play cricket there. But Modi government brought Narmada water into Sabarmati. And he also developed River front. Now there is water sports adventure in Sabarmati.
Last month Vijaybhai inaugurated lion safari park at Ambardi in Amreli district. The park has been developed by carving out around 400 hectare or four square Km area out of Ambardi reserved forest. Recently Gujarat tourism bagged ‘Hall Of Fame’ award for being the Best State in comprehensive development of tourism category at the National Tourism Awards.