Chhattisgarh to invest 2 billion in tourism

Thursday, 27 September 2007, 07:00 Hrs   |    1 Comments
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Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government will invest 2 billion to create world-class tourism infrastructure around dozens of scenic and historical sites, state Tourism Minister Brijmohan Agrawal said here Thursday.

"We have decided to invest 2 billion for construction of hotels, motels, roads and other facilities to make tourist trips to the state's dozens of dream natural locations in Bastar and the ancient Buddhist scholar site of Sirpur in Mahasamund district a dream visit," Agrawal told IANS.

Claiming that Chhattisgarh was fast emerging as a "tourists' hunting ground", the minister stated: "Once the infrastructure is created, the state will rule the tourist map of Asia as most of its natural locations, some of them virgin forests, are unexplored and are perfectly placed to be dream destinations.

"The only problem is infrastructure. We have made major moves in the direction since 2004 and by end of 2008, tourists can enjoy world-class facilities at over 24 locations in the state, most them based in the state's scenic Bastar region and northern hilly pockets including a hill station at Mainpat in Surguja district," the minister added.

He said the central government had recognised Chhattisgarh as a "maximum tourism potential" state and would help endeavours to develop the state as an eco-tourism hub since the state was one of the richest in the country in biodiversity, with 44 percent of its area under forest cover.

In June the state government unveiled a tourism promotion scheme that included tax holidays and free power for 10 years and a waiver on land diversion taxes for investors to construct resorts, heritage hotels, health resorts, multiplexes, roads and art and craft villages around tourist sites.

Chhattisgarh, carved out in November 2000 from Madhya Pradesh, is home to ancient monuments, rare wildlife, exquisitely carved temples, palaces, waterfalls and rock paintings. The tourism potential of most of these sites are still untapped.

One of the places known for its natural beauty is Chitrakut waterfall in southern Bastar, where the Indravati River falls 96 feet in a horseshoe-shaped waterfall. It is often compared to Niagara Falls.

Bastar also boasts of numerous caves like Kailash caves and Kutumsar caves that are said to be 3,300 million years old.

Chhattisgarh government is lobbying for Sirpur, about 70 km from here and located on the banks of Mahanadi River, to be granted world heritage status. It was a famed Buddhist study centre during 6th-10th century.

According to Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, who visited Sirpur in the seventh century, the village had an Ashoka stupa, at least 100 viharas (monasteries) and 150 temples.
Source: IANS
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