TN tourism catalogues to flaunt new hotspots, Jain, Buddhist sites on shortlist

The Jain bed at Kalugumalai in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In order to provide an impetus to the state’s tourism, the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC) has planned to promote as many as 295 lesser known destinations including the Buddhist sites in the state, as tourist spots.

Talking to The Federal, V Amudhavalli, director of tourism and managing director, TTDC, said that the master plan for the promotion of the new tourist spots will be prepared in the fiscal year of 2020-2021 and gaps affecting tourist flow to these places will be identified and bridged.

“Some of these places include the Kalugumalai Jain Beds in Thoothukudi district and Buddhist sites in Kancheepuram district. The department also plans to include the Buddha Vihara (monasteries) of Nagapattinam in the new list of tourist spots,” she said.

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She also adds that some of the spots can be interlinked with common themes and make for interesting tourist routes.

According to TTDC data, the state which has been witnessing a high tourist footfall for the past few years, recorded the arrival of 39 crore domestic tourists and 61 lakh foreign tourists 2018-19.  Recently, TN Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami too claimed that the state recorded the highest tourist footfall, elbowing out hotspots like Goa and Kerala, between 2014 and 2017. Amudhavalli added that for 2019, the numbers will be almost equal to the ones recorded in 2018.

She observed that with about 35,000 temples in the state, temple tourism has contributed a major part to the tourist inflow. “In neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, like in TN, there is a tradition of carrying out parihara poojais (poojas or prayers done for bringing relief) in various temples. Those visiting Varanasi in the north also make it a point to visit Rameswararam—as both are significant places of worship in Hinduism. These events have kept the visits to the temples high,” Amudhavalli said.

She also said that the state has several elements that make it a complete tourist destination. “There are wildlife, lakes, hills and the sea, making it a complete package. If the delta region has a huge line up of temples, Theni, Gudalur and Pollachi are known for their elephant trails.”

As a UNESCO declared world heritage site, the assemblage of structured cave temples in  Mamallapuram, has received a huge boost after a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping  in October last year, as part of an informal summit. Amudhavalli said, “The footfall has doubled after the summit and the ongoing Mamallapuam Dance festival has also added to the boost with over 3,000 visitors to the site every day.”

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