Saturday, March 28, 2009

From Naxal heartland to tourism hotspot

29 Mar 2009, 0359 hrs IST, Soumittra S Bose, TNN

NAGPUR: Leave aside the actual meaning of the name. The word ‘Gadchiroli’ only evokes a spine-chilling fear and conjures up gory images related to
the Naxal movement. But it seems there’s an effort now to transform this district to a hotspot of tourism industry. District collector Atul Patne is planning an ambitious project ‘Destination Gadchiroli’ to repackage the underdeveloped district’s image.

“Employment generation is a only tool that can solve many of Gadchiroli’s present problems. A flourishing tourism industry can be the answer to the problem. It will also address other problems such as development at the village level and increase in per capita income,” said Patne.

Also among the district collector ’s plans is ‘Gadchiroli Festival,’ a week-long event that will bring out the best of the district in terms of forest products, local cuisine, tribal culture and customs, sight-seeing, traditional handicrafts and other attractions.

Patne has already started work on the project, identifying 35 tourist spots in the district. He plans to develop places like Beenagonda, Tippagarh, Venkatapura, Kaleshwara and Markendaya. Beenagonda, with its splendid scenic beauty, is also known as ‘Gadchiroli’s Kashmir’.

Patne said that niche tourism in the sectors of forest, agriculture, tribal, adventure and religion can be developed in the district. “My concept also includes development of aqua parks, forest parks, amusement parks and adventure sports and recreational parks. Sports-oriented institutions like mountaineering clubs, rock-climbing clubs, horse-riding clubs, boating clubs and even golfers can come down to Gadchiroli. We would plan stadiums where moto-sports and dirt track races can take place and develop golf courses. We also aim to develop facilities for pursuits like parasailing and paragliding,” said Patne.

The district collector added that tribal culture-based museums would also be set up to showcase the history, customs, culture and traditions of the local tribes. “Tourists can learn about the local tribal culture and also shop for tribal artefacts and products. The costs would be minus the showroom prices,” said Patne.

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