Warangal’s untapped potential
Notwithstanding the tall claims of the tourism department, the tourist footfall to the erstwhile district of Warangal, which has many architectural marvels of Kakatiya era and fantabulous weekend getaway locations, appears to be on the diminishing side if the stats provided by the authorities are to be believed.
Warangal: Notwithstanding the tall claims of the tourism department, the tourist footfall to the erstwhile district of Warangal, which has many architectural marvels of Kakatiya era and fantabulous weekend getaway locations, appears to be on the diminishing side if the stats provided by the authorities are to be believed.
This despite the fact that tourism wing in last couple of years had rolled out some big-ticket projects like tribal tourism circuit besides some places were covered under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). Adding more spice to it was the Bhupalpally district administration, which has come out with an ecotourism calendar to draw nature lovers and adventure sports enthusiasts.
On paper, Warangal should be a tourist powerhouse considering the range of tourist spots - Orugallu Fort, 1,000 Pillars and Ramappa temples with standout architecture of Kakatiya times, besides scenic laidback locations such as Laknavaram lake, Bogatha waterfalls etc. – it has. But what is lacking, however, is the hospitable environment that any tourist dearly wants.
It’s pitiable to say that none of the tourist spots boasts of basic amenities. If Bogatha, of late, has caught the imagination of tourists due to its postcard beauty, the Bhupalpally district administration, which in recent past hit the headlines organising a series of programmes that include rock climbing, trekking, bird watching, cycling etc. as part of ecotourism promotion in Eturnagaram, Tadwai and Laknavaram.
It’s been more than a year since Gattamma temple near Mulugu, Medaram, Tadvai forest, Laknavaram lake, Damaravai megalithic structures, Bogatha waterfalls and Mallur temple in the region were brought under the Tribal Ecotourism Circuit for which the Central government had earmarked Rs 84 crore under Swadeshi Darshan Scheme, however, the facilities at these places are yet to take a shape.
But for the construction of a road in 2017, Bogatha waterfalls located in Wajedu mandal that attracted more than one lakh visitors is crying for attention. However, a food court and cottages were in the pipeline, as of now it’s difficult to get even drinking water here. The situation is no different at Laknavaram lake and 1,000 Pillars temple.
On the other hand, work on reconstruction of Kalyana Mandapam of the 1,000 Pillars temple that started way back in 2005 stranded owing to delay in release of funds and lackadaisical approach of the authorities.
This apart, though places like Kota Gullu near Mulugu Ghanpur, Devuni gutta temple that has carvings resembling Cambodian sculpture in the thickets near Mulugu, Trikuta temple at Nidigonda in Jangaon district have immense tourism potential, the authorities are yet to take measures.
Even the conservation of the famous Ramappa temple, which is gunning for UNESCO’s World Heritage status, is far from satisfactory. The High Court had to intervene to restore the compound wall of the Ramappa temple which collapsed some five months ago.
Speaking to The Hans India, Warangal Tourism Officer M Shivaji said: “Work is in progress to provide amenities to tourists, besides several pipeline projects that likely to increase the footfall of the tourists.”
According to Shivaji, the number of tourists visiting the erstwhile Warangal district is 24.51 lakh between January and November 2017. This apart, 1,325 foreign tourists visited the region. Compared to 2015 and 2016, the number of tourists fell drastically. While in 2015, around 98 lakh tourists visited the district, the number was exponentially large in 2016 due to biennial Sammakka Saralamma Jatara at Medaram that stands at 2.62 crore.
Even if the number of pilgrims visiting Medaram was estimated at one crore, it’s hard to believe that another 1.62 crore had visited other places in the district. The veracity of the numbers provided by the tourism department appears questionable with there was no proper mechanism in place to count the tourists.