THE Uttarakhand government is working on tourist circuits for Maa Bhagwati, Shiva, Vishnu, Nav-grah, Golju Maharaj, Nagdevta, Hanuman, and Vivekanand. Next up is a ‘Modi Circuit’.
The state Tourism Department is working out a trail that will cover the places visited and activities done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a special episode of the survival reality show ‘Man vs Wild’, with Bear Grylls, shot inside the Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand.
Senior officials said they have started identifying the places and figuring out arrangements for tourists to visit and stay.
In the episode aired in August 2019, Grylls had met Modi at a rendezvous point and proceeded on a series of adventures, including fashioning an improvised spear from a stick in an area of the park said to be dominated by tigers, with the help of a knife and rope. The two had walked alongside the Kosi River and crossed it using a makeshift raft amid rain. The PM had also consumed a drink made of neem leaves.
The PM had voiced his thrill at the experience, and predicted that in the coming days, the area he visited would emerge as a big tourist attraction for the world.
Uttarakhand Minister of Tourism Satpal Maharaj said the idea for a ‘Modi Circuit’ came to him when he heard about the Game of Thrones tour during a visit to Croatia, as part of which tourists are taken to the locations where the famous TV series was shot.
“We have already created several circuits, for Maa Bhagwati, Shiva, Vishnu, Nav-grah, Golju Maharaj, Nagdevta, Hanuman, and Vivekanand. There is another major idea we are working on. PM Modi went to Jim Corbett Park with Bear Grylls. We are making a Modi trail for that. We will take tourists to places visited by PM Modi,” he told The Indian Express.
The Additional CEO of the Adventure Sports Division of the Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, Colonel Ashwini Pundir, said he had watched the episode of Man vs Wild featuring Modi, and a team from the Tourism Department was already working on the project, particularly on where to make arrangements for tourists to stay along a 30-40 km distance.
“I have asked our people to make a list of places where Grylls took the PM. We are brainstorming on where to make the staying arrangements, how to popularise the circuit, and what could be our social media plan. We want the tourists to have the experience the PM had. We will also put up write-ups at important points to inform you that this is the place where PM Modi did a particular activity,” said Pundir.
Calling Modi “the biggest influencer in the country”, Pundir gave the example of the Rudra cave where he was photographed while in meditation. Since then, Pundir said, caves like it are pre-booked, often several years in advance.
“Soon as the plan (for the Modi Circuit) is complete, we will work on developing the area with the help of the District Magistrate and district tourism development committees. We will take the help of locals,” he said.
Officials said that because covering the entire circuit will not take a lot of time, the plan is to attract tourists from neighbouring states like Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, who can visit over the weekend.
“The tourists want something new. Every spot in Uttarakhand is beautiful but we need to add something as a point of attraction and a few activities. With this circuit, we plan to achieve the same,” said the official.
BJP spokesperson Shadab Shams welcomed the move, calling Modi “the biggest brand in the state”. His name can benefit tourism in the state and should be welcomed, he said.
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The Congress noted that the Man vs Wild episode was shot on the day an attack left 40 CRPF personnel dead in Pulwama, Kashmir, and asked if the BJP government planned to celebrate this.
“We do not have problem with tourism circuits, but I do not understand what is the major achievement in that episode we are celebrating. When PM Modi was shooting that episode, the Pulwama attack took place… If we are creating a trail of something that happened on a black day, it is not right,” Congress state president Karan Mahara said.