Prateek Hira’s Comments on Ayodhya in Times of India

Times of India News Ayodhya

Neha Lalchandani reports / TNN / Nov 3, 2021 Lucknow:

The construction of the Ram Temple has generated immense interest in the ancient city of Ayodhya but it may take a few years before it joins the league of heritage and spiritual destinations like Varanasi, Prayagraj and Mathura. Tour operators visiting the city at the behest of the state government ahead of the Deepotsav have pointed out that the development of hotels, better connectivity, regulated temple visits and sanitation are crucial in propelling Ayodhya as a city of repute on the tourism map.

On Tuesday, a team of 40 tour operators and travel bloggers visited Hanumangarhi, Ramjanmabhoomi, Kanak Bhawan and Saryu Ghat to get a sense of what Ayodhya has to offer to tourists. The state government has elaborate plans of developing the city as a major tourist attraction.

“We have already been promoting the sector among tourists for a while now. Till now it was a city for pilgrims and devotees but now tourists also want to visit. However, it is important to retain the old world charm of the city. Old structures should not be demolished to modernise the city. People don’t want to just visit the temple but also experience the old world charm, the local culture, its people,” said Ravi Gosain, the vice-president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.
RK Arora of Sona Travels in Delhi said that several more hotels were needed in the area, since people had to otherwise stay in Lucknow and travel 2.5 hours to visit Ayodhya. Proposing that Ayodhya should be made into a two-night destination, Arora said that a sector incorporating Lucknow, Ayodhya, Varanasi and Prayagraj should be developed, especially as Varanasi and Prayagraj are also linked to Khajuraho.

Relating how a lot of queries regarding Ayodhya had started pouring in from south India, from where a massive number of donations have also come for the construction of the temple, Ramananda of Hammock Leisure Holidays from Bengaluru said that it did not matter to people that the Ram Temple was still under construction as they believe in the sanctity of the city. Manoj Matta of Oriental Vacations and Journeys Pvt Ltd said that stepping foot in the Ramjanmabhoomi was more important than actually seeing the temple since there were several temples already present in the city.

Prateek Hira, CEO of Tornos, said that Ayodhya has always been a tourist destination and not dependent on the Ram Temple. A festival is celebrated in the city, he said, 365 days of the year. “Now because of the hype around the temple, even normal tourists and not just devotees are getting attracted to it. There is massive scope around here like the presence of Chhaapia, the birthplace of Swami Narayanan of the Swaminath Temple, which is 40km away. Patanjali was born in neighbouring Gonda. There is a famous mazaar here and Guru Nanak is believed to have visited Ayodhya. Swami Vivekanand has also stayed here,” he said.