The Indian government has announced the creation of six tourist “circuits” to give a much needed boost to India’s travel sectors. While travel has consistently been one of India’s biggest sources of revenue, both international and local, it has not received the attention it deserves from the investment community. These circuits will be part of a comprehensive national blueprint to generate growth in the travel sector, as well as redefine perceptions of safety and comfort.
The Ramayana circuit references locations which have been referenced in the Ramayana, the glorious Hindu epic.
Tar (Bhojpur): Named after Tarka, a demon that lord Rama killed. An old tank here is said to be situated on her wrestling ground.
Ahirauli (Buxur): As per legend, a local temple of Devi Ahilya dates back to an ancient era, and that Ahilya became stone after a curse from her husband, the Rishi Gautam.
Ram Rekha Ghat (Buxur): Lord Ram Chandra and his brother Lakshman, and their guru Rishi Vishwamitra crossed the Ganga enroute the Sita’s swayambar.
Sita Kund (Munger): Said to be heated by the warmth of the fire in which Sita proved her honour, it is a hot spring at a village 6 km from Munger.
- Eco Circuit
- Water bodies, including lakes and rivers, which offer boating, fishing, water sports like rafting, and exploring marine life
- Sighting rare animals like tigers in its animal sanctuaries
- Camping, trekking and hiking
- Hospitality services at associated facilities, including lodges, Rest Houses and resorts.
The desert circuit refers to tourist destinations in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is home to 60% of the Thar, the world’s 7th largest desert, and offers experiences unlike any other Indian destination. The Desert Circuit will seek to not only promote current offerings, but also conserve the state’s historical monuments and enhance connectivity to tourist hotspots. A notable investment is the Sambhar Lake, which will soon offer a ‘Salt Train and Dining Experience’, a Salt Complex, an audiovisual show, a caravan Park, cycle track, dining, and night safari.
A 50 crore mega desert circuit (Jaisalmer-Jodhpur-Bikaner-Sambhar-Pali-Mount Abu), is also being developed. This includes projects to remove encroachments, improve cleanliness and work on incomplete tourist infrastructure projects.
The Buddhist Circuit seeks to focus on key destination in the Sarnath-Bodh Gaya circuit, which is of significance to the Buddhist community. Previous attempts to enhance the entire circuit (Lumbini in Nepal, Vaishali and Rajgir in Bihar, Shravasti and Kushinagar) have been unsuccessful due to lack of interest from Buddhist travelers. Tour operators have cited the need of direct air connectivity, better roads and basic amenities to enhance this circuit, as there is interest from visitors from 30 countries and 16 Indian states.
The Jain circuit spans the nation, with a presence across Karnataka (Shravanabelagola), Madhya Pradesh (Satpura and Jabalpur) Kerala (Wayannad), Palitana (Girnar), Andhra Pradesh (Kulpakji shrine) and New Delhi (Lal Mandir). Key sites include:
5 Jain Thirthankaras were born here. Ayodhya is home to temples dedicated to these thirthankaras, including the 21 ft tall idol of Lord Vrishabhdev at Digambar Jain temple.
The Dilwara Jain temples are renowned for their intricate use of marble.
Situated in Rajasthan’s Pali district, Ranakpur temple is a glorious monument to the Jain tradition, featuring magnificent pillars and ornate artwork.
For a Sufi Pilgrim, there are several destination of note:
- Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, New Delhi: The shrine of Muslim Sufi saint, Nizamuddin Chishti:
- Dargah of Salim Chisti. Fatehpuri Sikri: Famed for Mughal architecture in India, it draws thousands of devotees who visit for fulfillment of their wishes.
- Dargah Khwaja Mounuddin Hasan Chisti, Ajmer: The tomb of Persian saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti is a popular destination for people of all Charar-e-Sharief, Srinagar: One of India’s most ancient Sufi shrines, it is said to be 600 years
- Haji Ali, Mumbai: An 800 year old mosque was built in the middle of the sea, it is the tomb of a merchant who renounced everything on his pilgrimage to Mecca.
- Dewa Sharif, Lucknow: The tomb of Syed Waris Ali Shah, in Uttar Pradesh, it is a shrine to Sufi saint Haji Waris Ali Shah