Monday, August 23, 2010

How the Recent Landslides in the Hills Haven Taken a Toll on Indian Tourism

The Panorama of Leh Town in Ladakh
Floods and landslides dominated the hill tourism scene of India for at least half of the August month. One of the first places to have got affected was Himachal Pradesh. Owing to the flash floods that washed away a portion of Leh earlier this month, the National Highway -22 leading to Himachal Pradesh, got blocked. This got trapped several foreign and domestic tourists, not to mention that several tourist arrivals to Manali and nearby tourist places were called off or delayed. The British travelers were issued a travel advisory by their country to not to travel to Leh in Jammu & Kashmir.

Darjeeling Toy Train On a Fine Day
Roadways connecting Leh to Manali and Srinagar were closed to motor vehicles and this disrupted tourism in both the states all the more. Last year, Himachal Pradesh had drawn some 400,583 foreign tourists. Manali is a hotspot for backpackers from US, France, Italy, Britain and Germany because of its superb adventure tourism conditions and facilities and most tourists love to drive or trek the scenic 475 km long Manali-Leh highway. The heavy rains caused landslides in the Himalayan Buddhist Circuit along the Manali-Keylong-Kaza route and this also came as a tourism setback in India. Later, in the middle of the month, the traffic in the closed roads were partially restored, though, the highways connecting Upshi and Rumptse in Ladakh are still not out of their landslide debris. Only small vehicles are plying the partially restored routes.

Konkan Railway
The cloudburst of August 6 in Choglamsar village of Leh created fresh wounds in the face of Indian tourism after taking several lives and washing away homes and buildings with mud slides and flash floods. The roads in West Bengal's Darjeeling district also caved in owing to landslides. Not only did it upset major road links linking the hill district internally, but also suspended the Darjeeling toy train services. Around the same time, down in the southern part of India, landslide disrupted the Goa-Mumbai Konkan railway route. We can only pray for the priceless lives lost in the Leh cloudburst incident and extend the maximum support to the existing life in the village while we look up to the government with hope filled eyes to restore the face of Indian tourism in the hills as early as possible.

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