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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Snow clad dhauladhar hills in Kangra Valley welcome tourists

February 10, 2008

Friday, 08 February 2008

JAWALAMUKHI (HP): Nestling in the lap of the towering snow-clad
Dhauladhar ranges, the Kangra valley of Himachal Pardesh in india
beckons tourists with the bounty nature has bestowed — antique miniature
paintings, ancient temples and sprawling green tea gardens. There is a
mini-Tibet at McLeodganj which attracts both Indian and Foreign visitors
keen on getting a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Tibetans and wanting
to seek the blessings of the Dalai Lama, revered as the "living Buddha".

All important towns in the valley, including Dharamsala, Palampur,
Kangra, Mcleodganj and Jwalamukhi, have reasonable accommodation and
most of the hotels there have STD facility. Guest houses in the
residential areas are few and far between. There is, however, no
arrangement for medical aid to tourists. They like locals have to depend
on small hospitals private clinics and whatever little these are
equipped with. Dharamsala, McLeodganj, Palampur, Kangra and Jwalamukhi
lack adequate parking facilities. The traffic goes haywire during the
tourist season with vehicles parked haphazardly by drivers.

A survey of the important towns dotting the tourist map of the valley
reveals that not much is being done or arranged by the Tourism
Department to make the tourists visit and stay comfortable and
memorable. Bad roads, unhygienic conditions, erratic water supply,
exorbitant rents in private guest houses, non-availability of standard
food items and the level at which these are priced, put tourists off.

This coupled with inadequate publicity of the natural and traditional
assets of the valley, makes a large number of tourists pack up earlier
than scheduled. Non-availability of guides, lack of proper transport
facilities and conducted tours within the Kangra valley are other
factors which acts as a damper.

McLeodganj, attracts most foreign tourists all through the year but
precious little has been done to tap its tourism potential.

Hotels, especially small ones, are ill-maintained and unhygienic; the
food is costly and below standard and the transport costly. "The taxi
owners loot us because of tourist are not aware of local conditions"
says an American tourist, Chris, adding that even the tourist
information centre does not help foreigners. Dal Lake, located at a
height in Mcleodganj, has lost the pious touch due to the disposal of
refuse and filth into it by the institutions around. Residents of
Dharamsala have undertaken cleaning-up operations but the plight of the
lake is yet to catch the attention of the Tourism Department.

The plan of setting up a ropeway between Dharamkot and Triund and the
key towns in the valley is still hanging fire. The area has good scope
for adventure tourism. Place like Jwalamukhi, Kangra, Chintpurni, which
have popular temples, fail to sustain the interest of visitors due to
lack of adequate accommodation.

Another important factor coming in the way of promoting tourism in the
valley is the non-functional Gaggal airport in night which is otherwise
equipped to operate 10 flights. "My friends from Britain, Bombay and
Madras planned to see the beauty of the Kangra valley but have cancelled
the programme this year also as they do not want to waste time
travelling in buses or trains", says a medical officer.

Most foreign tourists keen on visiting the Dalai Lama's enclave at
McLeodganj also develop cold feet in the absence of regular flights from
metropolitine cities of the country. But as of now, there is no evidence
to suggest that the authorities have any plans to address themselves to
these problems.
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