A recurrence of the overcrowding of tourists at Manali was seen in Karnataka’s Nandi Hills on Sunday (July 11) when more than 8,000 tourists travelled to the hill station in the first weekend after the COVID-19 lockdown was completely lifted in the state.
The hill station, a popular weekend getaway for those from neighbouring Bengaluru, Tumakuru and Chikkaballapur, was shut since April due to the second wave of the pandemic. It reopened for visitors on June 21, but remained closed on weekends due to the curfew.
According to Times of India, although the previous weekend had a thin number of tourists, Sunday saw many arriving as early as 4 am to see the sunrise from the hilltop.
The report said many from Bengaluru, Tumakuru and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor had reserved rooms ahead of their visit. There were as many as 8,000 people and 3,000 vehicles on the hilltop, the report said.
Visitors who spoke to TOI said all the rooms in the Gandhi Nilaya and Nehru Nilaya, managed by the tourism department, were booked and the room tariff cost as high as ₹5,500 a day.
A special officer at Nandi Hills said many tourists were fined for not wearing masks and adhering to social distancing norms.
The past few days have seen an emerging trend of ‘revenge tourism’ where people, fed up with being cooped up inside their homes due to the pandemic, have hit the roads and tourist spots, subsequently leading to an overcrowding of tourist getaways and danger of a further spread of COVID-19.
Several Indian states including Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra have witnessed huge rush in the past weekends where tourists threw all COVID caution to the wind to satiate their appetite for travel after a long hiatus. While Maharashtra’s Lonavala, Nashik and Ratnagiri have seen a massive influx of crowds on weekends, the major tourist attraction in Gujarat has been the Statue of Unity.
Last week, photos of hordes of tourists cramming the hill station of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, went viral on Twitter, raising concerns about the role of such behaviour in further aggravating the pandemic. Hill stations like Shimla, Kullu, and Dharamsala were also crowded by tourists after the Himachal Pradesh government eased lockdown norms.