Tag Archives: travelling

the tourism industry

Today’s article aims to ruin yet another thing people like- travelling. Who doesn’t love vacations? We get to take a break from our daily monotonous lives and experience different cultures, see the beautiful local architecture, eat local food etc. Not only is it relaxing for the tourist, but also beneficial for the locals. Many countries around the world depend on tourism. It brings in money and supports local economies. In 2019, about 4.2 crore jobs were created by the tourism sector alone in India, which accounts for 8.1 % of the total employment in the country. However, there are two sides to every coin, and the other side is unknown to many.

Let’s start with travelling. Getting to your destination requires some sort of travelling by planes, trains, cars etc. The main problem with the aviation industry is of noise and air pollution. In 2010, the aviation industry carried 2.4 billion passengers and that number is predicted to increase to 16 billion by 2050. It also produces 2% of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions globally. Choosing to avoid flying and taking a cruise instead? Good luck with that. A week’s worth of travel on a cruise is responsible for depositing about 210,000 gallons of human sewage into the ocean. It is also accompanied by many other problems like air pollution and destruction of coral reefs. If that isn’t enough, they also mistreat their workers. Cruise ship workers suffer many problems like long work hours, terrible pay, and inadequate healthcare.

Now, assuming that you’ve reached your destination, the troubles don’t end there. Often the locals have to go through hell, just so that the tourists can live luxuriously. Although it cannot be denied that the employment bought in by this industry is necessary, people fail to look at the kind of jobs being created. The main kind of employment created is low wage and seasonal, with no hopes of any promotion in them. Tourism is also expensive, and prices tend to be higher in tourist destinations. This means that the locals have to pay exorbitantly high prices for daily products like petrol, vegetables, fruits etc. The governments sadly pay more attention and give more importance to the tourists rather than their people.

Even animals cannot escape the adverse effects of tourism. Wildlife tourism is a multimillion-dollar industry and causes great harm to animals in their natural habitats. Endangered animals are drugged just so people can take photos with them, to flaunt their lifestyles on social media. Scuba diving is an activity enjoyed by many on vacations. Yet, its impact on marine life cannot be ignored. Breakage of coral colonies and tissue damage from direct contact such as walking, touching, kicking, standing, or gear contact and water pollution is common in tourist destinations.

There are many problems with this industry which are overlooked. However, we simply cannot shut all forms of tourism as many countries are dependent on it. The COVID 19 pandemic has shown us how some countries can be negatively impacted if tourism is stopped. So, reform in our methods of travelling is crucial. Some ways by which we can achieve this are:-

  1. Minimise waste generation 
  2. Support family-owned and local businesses by buying merchandise and souvenirs from them
  3. Try to find out ways to minimise your impact on wildlife 
  4. Do not travel by cruises or planes. Try trains instead 
  5. If no alternatives to flying are available, then choose direct flights

 Sources : https://www.atag.org/facts-figures.html

https://www.businessinsider.in/transportation/working-on-a-cruise-ship-can-be-brutal-but-two-lawyers-who-rep-cruise-line-workers-explain-why-even-terrible-cruise-ship-jobs-can-be-attractive/articleshow/66797307.cms

SHILLONG

Location

Shillong is a hill station in the northeastern part of India and the capital of Meghalaya, which means “The Abode of Clouds”. Shillong lies on the Shillong Plateau, the only major uplifted structure in the northern Indian shield. The city lies in the centre of the plateau and is surrounded by hills, three of which are revered in Khasi tradition: Lum Sohpetbneng, Lum Diengiei, and Lum Shillong.

It is the headquarters of the East Khasi Hills district. Shillong is the 330th most populous city in India with a population of 143,229 according to the 2011 census. It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the British of Scotland. Hence, they would also refer to it as the “Scotland of the East”.

Shillong, the capital city of Meghalaya is just 100 km from Guwahati, which can be accessed by road along NH 40, a journey of about 2 hours 30 minutes through lush green hills and the magnificent Umiam Lake in between.

History

The Shillong Municipal Board has a long history dating back to 1878, when a proclamation was issued constituting Shillong and its suburbs, including the villages of Mawkhar and Laban, into a station under the Bengal Municipal Act of 1876. Inclusion of the villages of Mawkhar and Laban (Lumparing, Madan laban, Kench’s Trace and Rilbong) within the Municipality of Shillong was agreed to by Hain Manik Syiem of Mylliem under the agreement of 15 November 1878. But, there is no trace of Shillong in the British era maps dating back to 1878, up to 1900.

Shillong was also the subject of the great earthquake that occurred on 12 June 1897. The earthquake had an estimated moment magnitude of 8.1. Twenty-seven lives from Shillong town alone were lost and a major part of the town was destroyed.

How to go

By air: Shillong Airport in Umroi is a small airport that is available for the flights and is located at a distance of 40 km from Shillong. Bus services are provided by Meghalaya Transport Corporation from the airport to the various cities of the state. There are regular flights from Shillong to Ahmedabad, Aizawl, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi and various other destinations.

 By rail: There are as such no proper rail lines in Meghalaya. Guwahati railway station is the nearest railway station situated at a distance of 105 Km from Shillong. The city is well connected to all other major cities of the country via rail medium. There are also taxi as well as bus facility for Shillong.

By road: Assam State Transport Corporation and Meghalaya Transport Corporation run buses from Guwahati to Shillong. The main interstate bus stand is located near to Guwahati railway station. Reasonable prices for different types of buses like AC, AC Sleeper, luxury and Volvo buses are available for Shillong. Some of the places nearby which you can visit are Cherrapunji and Jowai.

Places to visit

Umiam Lake: Umiam Lake, a mesmerizing man-made reservoir, is located at a distance of 15 kilometres north of Shillong which is the capital of the north-eastern Indian state of Meghalaya. The lake was formed after a dam was constructed to generate hydroelectric power. The scenic Umiam Lake is encircled by lush green East Khasi hills that form one of the best panoramic sights for nature-lovers in the country. The sunrise at the lake is a treat to watch and shouldn’t be missed. The Umiam Lake has a park adjoining it which is a hotspot for picnics and frequented by locals for a getaway from their busy scheduled.

 Elephant Falls: Named after an Elephant like stone at its foot, the Elephant Falls are amongst the most popular falls in the North-East, situated next to Shillong. It is a tourists’ paradise with three layers of the falls accessible to the layman from different vantage points. The Britishers named this fall so owing to the presence of an elephant-shaped rock on one side of the fall. However, the stone disintegrated and was washed away due to an earthquake in 1897. Elephant Waterfalls is a superb place for spending some time in the midst of nature while capturing the incredible moments for your keepsake.

Police Bazaar: Police Bazaar is the major market of Shillong, and a popular shopping haunt for locals and tourists alike. In addition to an array of restaurants, hotels and big brand stores, the Police Bazaar also has a flea market section which is pocket-friendly and draws the maximum number of tourists owing to its traditional handicrafts stores, exquisite Meghalaya merchandise, regional apparels, junk jewellery and the like. The colourful market is thronged by shopping enthusiasts as well as foodies.

Laitlum Canyons: Perched on the East Khasi Hills, Laitlum Canyons is a less explored but one of the most picturesque tourist and trekking destinations in Shillong. The canyons are located about 21 kilometers south of Shillong which is about a half-hour drive away. Literally, translating to ‘End of hills’, this exotic viewing site offers the best panoramic views of the whole of Meghalaya embraced by the majestic hills and valleys. The spot is secluded and serene, ideal for quiet and peaceful getaways. It can be visited by families, friend groups as well as couples. To catch this place at its best, visit Laitlum Canyons either during sunrise or sunset.

Shillong Peak: At the height of 6449 ft or 1965 m above sea level, Shillong Peak is the highest point of Shillong. It offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city, the Himalayas, its waterfalls as well as of the Bangladesh plains. A telescope is available for tourists to get a bird’s eye view. Trekking up to this semi-circular Shillong Peak is highly recommended for the best views but it is often bounded by heavy fog.

Mawphlang: Mawphlang, home to Meghalaya’s Sacred Forest, is a beautiful village situated 25 kilometres away from Shillong, the capital city of the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya. The village lies in the district of East Khasi Hills and is famous for its sacred groves. The village is named Mawphlang as it is one of the several monoliths in the Khasi Hills. The name Mawphlang means Grassy Stone and is a land of legendary stories, sacrifices and unique culture. For the ones who want a glimpse of the tradition, culture and lifestyle of the Khasis that is fading away in the modern world, Mawphlang is the place to visit.

Ward’s Lake: A pretty artificial lake surrounded by gardens is an ideal evening get away! Also known as the Polok Lake, it is usually flocked by couples, picnickers and locals.

Don Bosco Museum: Hailed as Asia’s largest Museum of Indigenous Cultures, the Don Bosco Museum is the house of the beautiful culture and tradition of North East India. It is conveniently located in the Mawlai area, near the Police Bazaar. With its seven storeys, it rises into the skyline of Shillong and flaunts 16 laid out galleries that showcase artifacts, paintings, figures significant to the Northeastern culture. Not only do these provide a feast to the eyes of the visitors, but also give an insight into the lifestyle of the North-Eastern people.

David Scott Trail: Most popular trekking routes of Meghalaya, this path was originally laid by David Scott, a British officer as early as in the 1800s. It is still used to commute between Assam and Bangladesh.

Mawlynnong: Mawlynnong is a small village situated around 90 km from Shillong in the East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya and is also known as God’s own Garden. It was declared as the cleanest village in Asia in 2003 by Discovery India which certainly which makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Indian state. Mawlynnong village is a community-based ecotourism initiative where the entire community made collective efforts in making and maintaining the cleanliness of the village.

Why visit Shillong?

Rarest and friendly tribes: The Shillong population mostly belongs to the Khasi tribe, who are predominantly Christian. There are also a significant number of Assamese, Bengali and Nepali minorities. An interesting aspect of the Khasis is that they are a matrilineal society. Therefore the mother’s surname is passed on to the children and the youngest daughter inherits the ancestral property.

Can you imagine the celebration the birth of a daughter entails? And the special pampering the youngest daughter receives?

Thrilling peak: Located at a height of 1,496 meters above sea level, Shillong is a great destination and a treat for nature lovers. Situated 10 kilometers from the city, the Shillong Peak offers spectacular views of the city from a lofty height of 1,965 meters above sea level. Being the highest point in Shillong, it gives impressive views of lush greenery and cascading waterfalls. On a cloudless day you will be able to view the majestic Himalayan peaks and the forever inundated Bangladesh plains in the distance. The Indian Air Force has its radar station here.

Cherapunjee: Meghalaya or the Abode of the Clouds is famous for Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, which are the wettest places on earth. This makes it a popular monsoon destination. Cherrapunji, which lies 15 kilometer to the east of Shillong, offers guest houses, resorts, cottages and home-stays for visitors. Eating in Cherrapunji is a great experience. You can enjoy the succulent Khasi cuisine like pork rice. Sohra Pulao, which is rice cooked with oil and vegetables without spices, should not be missed.

Living Root Bridges: Deep in the dense tropical forests of Meghalaya, and shrouded in cloud and rain for much of the year, are some astonishing natural wonders. Known as living root bridges, and preserved as UNESCO heritage site, these roots of ancient rubber trees or Ficus Elastica have been trained by the Khasi tribesmen, to grow in a tangled mess, which have then been intertwined and intermingled to form double and single decker root bridges that are intriguing the world. Strong as they are, the bridges take 10 to 15 years to become functional enough to hold the weight of more than 50 people at a time. The wonderful bridges are alive and still growing and thus get stronger over time.

Mawsmai Caves: Meghalaya has the longest cave system of India situated in the Jaintia Hills. Of them all, Mawsmai are easily the most favourite caves for many travellers, as it is one of the few caves one can explore without a guide. Just about 6 kilometers from the main town of Cherrapunji and an enchanting drive through golden autumnal grasslands, one finally reaches a thick grove. Mawsmai, the limestone caves, lie hidden beneath these trees! The cave has a wide opening but it soon gets narrower and is best avoided if one is claustrophobic, has health issues or weight problems.

The cave is a one way road, so the adventurous visitor enters from one end and goes out of the other. In the middle, there are places where you’ve to bend and squeeze yourself out. The channel gets narrower and the walking pace is slow, but there is no turning back! The cave is well lit with electricity and you can see each and every detail of the rock formation.

The colours and shapes come alive and you can interpret different figures for the fun of it. Rocks glint in the light as water drips down from the stone tips. It’s a marvel how these tiny drops change the appearance of hard rocks, working on them tirelessly for decades like a patient artist. With bats and insects flying around, tiny passages where one shrinks and crawls, shadows and shapes filling the air and the thrill of being inside a cave, the mere 150 meters of the cave length appears unending and hugely exciting.

So what are you waiting for? Pack up your bags and set out to seek the unknown!

HAMPI

What is Hampi?

Hampi or Hampe (in Kannada) also referred to as the Group of Monuments at Hampi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in east-central Karnataka, India. It became the pilgrimage centre of the Hindu religion. It was the capital of Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. Chronicles left by Persian and European travelers, particularly the Portuguese, said that Hampi used to be a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Tungabhadra River, with numerous temples, farms and trading markets. By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world’s second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing and probably India’s richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal. The Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim sultanates; its capital was conquered, pillaged and destroyed by sultanate armies in 1565, after which Hampi remained in ruins.

Located in Karnataka near the modern-era city of Hosapete, Hampi’s ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and it has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India that includes “forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures and others”. Hampi predates the Vijayanagara Empire; there is evidence of Ashokan epigraphy and it is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampaa Devi Tirtha Kshetra. Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery and various monuments belonging to the old city.

Location

Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the eastern part of central Karnataka near the state border with Andhra Pradesh. It is 376 kilometers (234 mi) from Bangalore, 385 kilometers (239 mi) from Hyderabad and 165 kilometers (103 mi) from Hubli. The closest railway station is in Hosapete, 13 kilometers away and the closest airport is 32 kilometers at Jindal in Toranagallu which has connectivity to Bangalore and Hyderabad. Overnight buses and trains also connect Hampi with Goa, Secunderabad and Bangalore.  It is 140 kilometers (87 mi) southeast of the Badami and Aihole archaeological sites.

History

A place of such great magnificence and opulence is sure to have a rich cultural heritage to it too. Hampi was a part of the Mauryan Empire back in the third century BC. There has been enough evidence of the fact that the rock edifices found in the Bellary district were a common form of recording relevant information in the times of Ashoka. Hampi was the capital city during the four different dynasties altogether in the Vijayanagar city that came into existence in the year 1336 AD. The Vijayanagara Empire reached unfathomable heights under the guidance of King Krishnadeva Raya of the Tuluva Dynasty. There is a legend associated with the place in relation to Ramayana. It is well known that the epic Ramayana is divided into seven ‘Kaands’ or episodes. One particular episode named ‘Kishkindha Kaand’ which has special significance concerning Hampi. According to the legend, the episode took place when Lord Rama and Lord Lakshman reach the Land of Monkeys. The place where they reach is said to be Hampi, and there are many geographical proofs in relation to that too.

Iconic spots

  • The Lion God Narsimha: Hampi also has a story which related it to Lord Narasimha. There is a temple known as Lakshmi Narasimha Temple which is just a little south of the famous Krishna Temple. Intricately designed pillars here show the different shades of Prahlad’s life, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Narasimha’s destruction of the demon king Hiranyakashyap is displayed here in the form of articulate carvings.
  • Bhima’s Gate: It is said that during the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi came across a flower named Saugandhika which had a lovely smell. Enchanted, she desired more of these flowers, so Bhima set forth to find its source. After overcoming many obstacles, he found a pond full of the Saugandhika flower. At this point, Lord Hanuman took the form of an old man and lay across on the pathway. When Bheem asked him to move, he said that he is too old and that Bheem should move his tail himself. When repeated attempts by Bheem failed, he realized that he was facing Lord Hanuman. Bheem then fought two demons guarding the pond and returned with the flower for Draupadi.
  • Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple: Yantrodharaka Hanuman Temple is present at a distance of around 2km from the famous Virupaksha temple. This temple is a part of a cave standing at the peak of a hill and is dedicated to the Hindu deity Lord Hanuman. Also, the Tungabhadra flows through the steps of this hill. Here, you can find Lord Hanuman indulged in a state of deep meditation. Within a distance of five minutes from here, you can find another temple dedicated to Lord Srinivasa. In case you feel hungry, you can approach small stalls nearby selling mangoes, biscuits or cucumbers. It is best if you plan on your itinerary to this place in between October to March.
  • Queen’s Bath: Reckoned as a large bath of Hampi, Queen’s Bath exemplifies the Vijayanagara’s architectural excellence. It lies close to one of the most awful places to visit in Hampi- the Royal Enclosure. Although built around 500 years ago, this magnificent structure still remains intact in its construction. Its simplest exterior perfectly blends with an ornate interior to embrace its overall appearance. It a rectangular building admeasuring around 30 square meters and has a large sunken bath at its center. It may interest you to find arched corridors all around this Royal bath.
  • Prasanna Virupaksha Temple (Underground Temple): Underground Shiva Temple’s every single piece of the structure reflects a perfect blend of mythology and history. This is amongst the only places to visit in Hampi lying under water. The central portion of this ancient shrine always lies immersed in water. According to local beliefs, it is the Tungabhadra which flows through the interior of this temple through canals. There is the main hall, a courtyard, a small hall that leads to the innermost sanctum. All around the temple is a lush green lawn where you can sit and relax for some time.

Reasons why you should visit Hampi

  • Heaps of giant boulders perch precariously over miles of undulating terrain. The Vijayanagara kings chose Hampi/Vijayanagara as their capital because of its location because surrounded by hills on three sides and fronted by the Tungabhadra; it offered enemies a difficult target. Today, the hillside and the river offer tourists some unforgettable natural and archeological splendor. Any visitor to South India should not miss this epitome of Hoysala architecture.
  • Hampi is charismatic even in its ruined state, attracting thousands of visitors every year. Vast stretches of boulder-strewn hills make the backdrop of Hampi unique. Dotted around the hills and valleys are 500 plus monuments. Among them are beautiful temples, basements of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings.., the list is practically endless.
  • Hampi is a backpacker’s paradise, the same way a pilgrim’s delight. Unreal and bewitching, the forlorn ruins of Hampi, around 330km from Goa, make a highly worthwhile and popular, side trip from the coast. They lie scattered over a landscape that leaves you spellbound.
  • Hampi is also famous for its religious history rather than just the architectural beauty of its ruins. There are many well known temples here including the Virupaksha Temple, the Vittala temple and Anjeneyadri. The Tungabhadra, one of the major rivers of Karnataka flows serenely along this town, providing an awe-inspiring natural setting near the ruins.
  • The stone chariot at the Vittala Temple stands as an icon of the rock carving traditions of the Vijayanagara kings, and has been adopted as the emblem of the state’s tourism department.
  • Thought it is not primarily known for climbing, Hampi has a number of places where the bouldering folks camp. There are even some guesthouses who rent out the basic gadgets.

The best time to visit Hampi is during the winters between November and February. Unfortunately quality hotels in Hampi are hard to find. Therefore, if you are looking for better facilities then Hospet is a better option.