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Special Content

Issue no 26, 25 September - 01 October, 2021

Lesser Known Tourist Places In India World Tourism Day Special

Tourism is one of the world's most important economic sectors. It employs one in every ten people on the planet and provides livelihood to hundreds of millions more. It allows people to experience some of the world's cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity. Tourism is an essential pillar of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the commitment to our Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 1 (no poverty), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (reduce inequalities), 12 (responsible consumption and production), and 14 (life below water). World Tourism Day has been observed on September 27 each year since 1980. The date marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Statutes of the Organization in 1970, paving the way for the establishment of World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) five years later. It is the day to foster awareness of tourism's social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. UNWTO as the United Nations specialized agency for responsible and sustainable tourism, is guiding the global sector towards inclusive recovery and growth. UNWTO ensures every part of the sector has a say in its future.

Tourism for inclusive growth

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely hit the tourism sector, UNWTO has therefore designated World Tourism Day 2021 as a day to focus on "Tourism for Inclusive Growth". In 2020- 21, an additional 32 million people were pushed into extreme poverty. In least[1]developed countries especially, women have been hit hardest by the global crisis caused by the pandemic. One reason for this is that they mainly work in the sectors most-affected by the pandemic, including tourism. As the tourism sector grapples to reach its former glory, it is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly. This is an opportunity to look beyond tourism statistics and acknowledge that, behind every number, there is a person. UNWTO encourages its Member States, as well as non-members, sister UN agencies, businesses and individuals to celebrate tourism's unique ability to ensure that nobody is left behind as the world begins to open up again and look to the future. As we celebrate the Day, let us look at some lesser-known places of interest for tourists in India.


1.      Unakoti, Tripura

It is a 'Shaiba' (Shaivite) pilgrimage and dates back to 7th-9th centuries. Unakoti means one less than a crore and it is said that these many rock-cut carvings are available here. The site has marvellous rock carvings, murals with their primitive beauty, and waterfalls. Among the rock-cut carvings, the central Shiva head and gigantic Ganesha figures deserve special mention. The central Shiva head known as 'UnakotiswaraKalBhairava' is about 30- feet high, including an embroidered head[1]dress which itself is 10-feet high. On each side of the headdress of the central Shiva, there are two full size female figures - one of Durga standing on a lion and another female figure on the other side. In addition, three enormous images of Nandi Bull are found half buried in the ground. There are various other stone as well as rock cut sculptures at Unakoti.

2.      Nartiang Monoliths, Meghalaya

The Jaintia districts of Meghalaya have a distinct royal history and Nartiang is one of the best places to see well-preserved remnants from this glorious chapter. The garden of monoliths features a collection of large monoliths or Megalithic stones that were erected as monuments for the old kings. These consist of Menhirs (upright stones) or Moo Shynrang and Dolmens (flat stones in the horizontal position) locally known as Moo Kynthai. The standing monoliths or Menhirs are dedicated to the male ancestors while the flat ones, the Dolmens, are dedicated to the women. Some of these stones were erected half a millennia ago and additions were made till the middle of the nineteenth century.


3.      Mubarak Mandi Palace, Jammu and Kashmir

Once a royal residence of Dogra kings, Mubarak Mandi Palace has a history of more than 150 years. It was their main seat till 1925 when Maharaja Hari Singh moved to the Hari Niwas Palace in the northern part of Jammu. The palace is built in a manner that resembles both Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. One can also visit the Pink Hall that houses the Dogra Art Museum with miniature paintings of the various Hill Schools of Kangra, Jammu and Basholi. The architecture is captivating and a blend of Rajasthani, Mughal and European styles.


4.      Shettihalli Church, Karnataka

Rosary Church or Shettihalli Church was built about 160 years ago by the Europeans in the Shettihalli village, along the banks of River Hemavathi. Later on, a dam was built by the government which caused flooding and today, during monsoon, the church submerges in water to a great extent and creates an illusion of a floating monument. The Church reflects the French Gothic style of architecture. The towering columns along with the arched walls are still visible with black and grey tints, rising above the blue rippling water

5.      Sher Shah Suri Tomb, Bihar

The tomb was built in memory of Emperor Sher Shah Suri, a Pathan from Bihar who defeated the Mughal Empire and founded the Suri Empire in northern India. The Tomb of Sher Shah Suri is situated at Sasaram in Rohtas district of Bihar. Sher Shah Suri's tomb is a majestic example of ancient architecture. Designed by the architect Mir Muhammad Aliwal Khan and built between 1540 and 1545, it has elements of Indo-Islamic architecture which include large open courtyards, high domes, and pillars; it has hints of Afghan architecture as well. This beautiful structure is a three-storeyed high mausoleum (approximately one hundred and twenty-two feet). It stands in the middle of an artificial square-shaped lake

6.      Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary, Punjab

Also known as Hari-ke-Pattan, this is the largest wetland in northern India and is located at the confluence of Beas and Sutlej rivers. Situated in the Tarn Sahib District in Punjab, Harike Wetland and Bird Sanctuary was formed in 1953 and is spread across Amritsar, Ferozepur and Kapurthala. The wetland ecosystem covers an area of 4,100 hectare and is an internationally recognised Ramsar site (a wetland designated to be of international importance). A number of migratory birds visit here from the Himalayas, Siberia and Europe. One can also find the rare Indus river dolphin. Inside the sanctuary is the serene Harike Lake, where most of the sightings are possible.

7.      Orchha,  Madhya Pradesh

The historic town of Orchha, nestled on the banks of River Betwa, was founded in the 16th Century by the Bundela Rajput Chief, Rudra Pratap, who became the first King of Orchha, and also built the Fort of Orchha. Here, Betwa splits into seven channels, also called the Satdhara. Legend goes that this is in honour of the seven erstwhile chiefs of Orchha. Known as Osseen in ancient times, the city lies roughly 16 km from the town of Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. The Fort complex is within an island formed by the confluence of the rivers Betwa and Jamni in Orchha town. Approached from the eastern part of the market in the town through multiple arched bridges with 14 arches built in granite stones, the Fort consists of several connected buildings erected at different times. Raja Ram Temple, Chaturbhuj Temple, Jehangir Mahal, Raj Mahal, Sheesh Mahal and Rai Praveen Mahal are part of the Fort complex.

8.      Chausath Yogini Temple, Odisha

The circular open-roofed temple is one of the four surviving temples in India of the Yogini cult which flourished in the country from the 8th Century AD to 13th Century AD. The temple located 15 kilometre from Bhubaneswar at a hamlet called Hirapur was built in the 9th century AD and has been attributed to Queen Hiradevi, mother of King Subhakar Dev II of the Bhaumakar dynasty. The Yogini cult practiced yoga along with tantrism. The object of worship was usually a Chakra or Wheel which had sixty four spokes, hence the name (Chausathi translates to sixty four in Odia). The presiding deity is Goddess Kali. The circular open air structure is a stark departure from the traditional form of temple architecture in Odisha. This may have been necessitated by the fact that the cult worshipped the five elements—air, water, fire, earth and ether or sky. The Yoginis are carved out of black slate stone and are depicted riding their vahanas (mounts) here

9.      Undavalli Caves, Andhra Pradesh

The Undavalli Caves date back to the 7th century BC and are prime examples of rock-cut architecture. The caves are about 8 kilometres from Vijayawada and offer a unique perspective into ancient religious practices. The caves are carved out of sandstone on the side of a hill. While there are many caves, the largest is the one that is most popular for its huge monolith of Lord Vishnu in the reclining posture. The main cave is a prime example of Gupta architecture style, which concentrated on primitive rock-cut monastery cells.

10.  Lolegaon, West Bengal

A small peaceful hamlet in the Kalimpong sub-division of Darjeeling District, Lolegaon is nature's paradise on its own with beautiful landscape, comprising lush green forest and serene valleys. The peaks of Kanchenjunga rise majestically in the morning mist. Lolegaon is a one hour journey from Kalimpong and Lava through the serpentine forest road. Lolegaon offers small treks and trails. Lolegaon is a beautiful Lepcha village of scenic splendour. It has a heritage forest and an observation point called Jhandi Dara, for viewing the snow peaks of the Singalila Range


(Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan)

Source : Respective State Tourism websites