Sarnath : The Land of the Enlightened One

Dear Children!

On vacation you go with your parents to some tourist place. Our country has many such places where not only we go but numerous foreign tourists go also.

Children! Tourism fosters our cultural and natural heritage and this keeps them viable. This keeps our cultural tradition dynamic and free from stagnation. It develops our society, culture and mind. When we travel to different places, meet different people and their cultures, it broadens our minds, breaking down the walls of caste,creed and regions. It helps us realize the aphorism ” vasudhaiva kutumbakam”, the world is a family widening our horizon. It helps multifarious development of our personality.

Sarnath is a unique tourist place attracting many tourists. Buddhists from all over come to see their sacred place, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon to his five disciples. Its old name was Mrigadava, i.e.” the forest of deer”. According to Buddhist literature, flocks of deer roamed, protected by the king of Kashi. Living at Sarnath, Buddha crossing the Varuna would walk down to Kashi to beg. Here Buddha established his first Sangha with Yash , son of a wealthy merchant of Kashi, his 54 friends and pachavargiya; monks he sent them to different places to spread Buddhism. The first Sangha was formed in Sarnath.

There are ancient archaeological remain here; stupa, museum, the Saraganath temple of Shiva, and many temples built by different Buddhist countries are worth visiting. After witnessing the large scale killing of people in Kalinga battle of 3 B.C, Emperor Ashoka vowed to renounce war and became a follower of Buddha. He built Dharma Rajika Stupa, the lion capital, and many memorials. According to chinese traveler Fa-Hien there were two stupas and four monasteries here. The glory of Sarnath continued till the reign of Kumargupta and Skandgupta. In the seventh century, during the reign of king Harsha, Huen Tsang visited Sarnath. According to him many monks lived here. There was a 61 meter high temple with a beautiful idol of Buddha. The Queen of Kannauj Kumar Devi was a Buddhist and built the Dharma Chakra Jin Vihara in 12th century.

The Modern world came to know of Sarnath in 1794 when Raja Chet Singh’s Divan Babu Jagat Singh demolished the Dharmarajika Stupa in search of construction material and used it to build the locality of Jagatganj in Benaras City. Inside the Stupa was a casket containing Buddha’s corporal relics. Col. Machenzie and later is 1936, Mr. Alexander Cunningham excavated the spot.

On the left and the right of the present remains are two viharas; a little further on north is the Dharmarajika Stupa built by Ashoka. Now, only its foundation remains. Inside it were Buddha’s relics. It was renovated many times. The two famous statues of Buddha were found here. One a huge statue of Budhisatva from the Kaniska period and the other of Buddha in “dharma charka pravartan” posture, the best in Sarnath. Now they are kept in the museum here.

About 20 meters north to the Stupa was the main temple, the Mulgandh Kuti Temple where Buddha would meditate. The grandeur of the temple can be imagined by the ruins around it and breath of the walls.   Near the southern wall is a vedika of the Maurya period built by Ashoka,it is carved out of a single stone. It is still shining; a characteristic of Ashokan period art. In the east is a long courtyard extending upto the Dhamekh stupa; it is full of small and big holy stupas and chaityas. To the west is the pillar of Ashoka, now broken in pieces. The pillar is inscribed with a royal edict, saying “if a monk or a nun causes dissension in the sangha, he/she will be condemned and banished”, forced to wear a white cloth. The pillar also contains writings from Kushan and Gupta period. On the east of the vast courtyard is the round Stupa called Dhamak or Dharmachakra; the Stupa is covered on all sides with ornamental stone slabs containing swastikas, floral fetters and different figures. Gupta artisans excelled in ornamentations with lines and creepers.

Cunningham excavated at the centre of the stupa and found an ancient remain in it. According to scholars perhaps Buddha delivered his first sermon here. Its grand ornamentation shows its importance among buildings here and people venerated it as the religious body of Buddha.

Coming out of the southern main gate from the ruins , one comes across the famous lion capital of Ashok which was a part of the pillar. It is now our national emblem. The four lions on it facing four direction are symbolic of lord Buddha looking in every direction. At the top is a wheel with 32 spokes whose broken remains are extinct. Four animals at the base are between four dharma charkas. Our national flag containing religious wheel with 24 spokes is this.

On the right side is the huge image of Bodhisatva established by Tripitakacharya  Bhikshu Bal of Mathura during the reign of kanishka where Lord Buddha would walk. In the north gallery we can see a most beautiful image of Buddha in “dharm charka pravartan” mudra, a unique work of art from the prospective of iconography, aesthetics, and history; it has been lauded by the art critic, A.K.Coomarswamy. Also, there are many statues and edicts ranging from the 3th century B.C. to the 12th century B.C;in the museum you can study with the help of museum officers or recognized guides.

The present Mulgandh kuti vihar temple built in 1931 is the centre of attraction for tourists; it has an image of the Lord, a replica of the famous Gupta period statues. Below the image are physical remains of the Lord found in Takshashila and Gunter. Every year on the full moon day of kartika (October-November) and Vaishakh (May) one may have holy sight of them. The frescoes on the temples walls painted by the Japanese artist Kosetsu Nosu are attractive and depict different episodes from the Lord’s life.

In the east near the temple in the holy bow (Boddhi) tree. The branches of the peepal tree beneath which Siddhartha received enlightenment were planted at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka by the daughter of Ashoka Sanghamitra, to propagate Buddhism. In 1931 to promote Buddhism, the reverent Anagarika Dhamma Pal of Sri Lanka planted branches of the tree here.

Dear Children! The Buddhists from Thailand, Burma, Srilanka, Korea, China, Japan and Tibat etc,. have build several beautiful temples and viharas  here. You must visit them. And don’t miss the animals and birds here moving freely.

Every year on “Vaishakh purnima” many programs about Buddha’s birth anniversary are scheduced; you can learn much about Buddhist culture. Sarnath is the holiest place for Buddhists in the entire world.

Being a Tour Guide is An Art

“Gentleman! History proves that many fall in love. Their love is last in the past. Few know about it and praise it. But if one raises his love to a great height, the whole world will notice it to the end. And this is the monument of love of Shahjahan and Mumtaj known to the world, as Taj Mahal. You are standing before it. It is our good fortune.”

This is what a tourist guide said to the tourists. What could be a better way to present this great monument of love. This is the art of guiding. In every country the guide shows the Tourists River, trees, hills, and buildings available in every country. Then why should a tourist, spending a lot to see them visit another country; because behind them lies a historical cultural story.A tourist guide’s art lies in the way he presents the story. It is like the art of serving cuisines elegantly to one’s guest. Presentation makes even the remains beautiful and worth seeing.

Making falling shrines and bricks of remains as artistic objects and presenting them to tourists is the art of guiding. When he stands before the remains, stupas and chaityas of Sarnath; he explains their histories and cultural significance to the tourists in an artistic manner, making the dead past come alive. This is the zenith of tourism with the tourist realizing the worth of his money and time. Presenting decaying remains clothed in terms of the culture is a great art and when the guide succeeds in doing so the tourist feels that the guide has breathed life in dead stones and bricks.

Such art and effort is the life and soul of the tourism industry. The guide through tourism introduces his culture to the peoplee of other countries.Such a cultural exchange makes the tourist guide a cultural ambassador.

A tour guide is like a stage actor and his expression, clarity, communicability and intimacy put life into the rivers, hills, and remains.

The oldest city of the world, Banaras can boast of its antiquity unaffected by the march of time on its life-style. But this depends on the guide’s presentation of the city so that going back to his country the tourist would write that after returning from Kashi his views changed. When prosperous tourists from the west come here they have cultural shock but the guide mentally prepares them to stand it. He, by his affectionate behavior, creates such atmosphere that the tourist feels a sense of belonging. So much so that when he leaves his eyes are filled with tears.

Showing the Chunar Fort one can say that the ancient fort is built by Kings which came to ruins because of their mutual conflict. But such dull guidance will not help tourism. What is required is an interesting presentation of cultural, historical significance; a story of treachery and deceit. This is an art which has to be learned. Artless guiding is a profession of necessity, not an attraction for the tourist. And why tourism without attraction, and guiding without art?

Sport and Tourism: Two Living forces For Mutual Understanding Culture And The Development Of The Societies

“We of the world, world ours”

“Everyone of the world, wherever he is, is mutually connected with each other.” This epigraph expresses the spirit of nature, transcending boundaries of colour, creed , gender and geography. The concept of  “vasudhaiva  kutumbakam“, the world is a family ; also the same that is common in human nature . By virtue of natural attributes each is related to all. Two people living in two ends of the globe may have the same blood group. They of different countries, colour or religion might not ever meet each other. Thus despite such distances and inequalities their thoughts, behavior and even face might be similar. This proves that nature has bound her entire creation with an invisible thread.

Indian culture since the beginning has propounded and nurtured the concept of world fraternity. This feeling not only spreads the sense of natural kinship of the world but is also capable of eliminating completely many man -made problems on physical and geographical level. But development has its own value and meaning. Since the earliest times as man distanced himself from nature,the gulf between men widened. Distances of various kinds – geographical, social, political, emotional and ideological – separated him from his creation and root.

The web of self made material development not only affected his natural capability but also unfortunately decayed human values. At times despite the rapid pace of development the results manifest slowly after centuries; now man has reached that point. He possesses numerous accomplishments, means of comfort and infinite power; yet he is not happy, for he has paid much more than he has achieved. He has inherent love, faith, belief, peace and the gift of nature, fellow-feeling which is the ultimate possibility of world welfare. The situation is worsening because of fanaticism, hostility and differences. The result is terrorism, the biggest casualty after decay of human values and natural fellow-feeling.

That is why civilized society is today looking for a means to unite the world and bind it with a common thread, so that all people are brought together. Man lives on hope. This streak of light is found even in darkness. Now when we become conscious of promoting human values, we find many things that can do the task.

Two such things are: Sports and Tourism. Recognizing whose efficaciousness the Madrid-based World Tourism Organization has chosen them as theme for 2004. This is a meaningful choice. This year’s Olympic Games were organized in Athens and the world has realized the potential for the two to promote human welfare and development.

Actually sports and tourism have similar objectives: Mutual understanding and Fellow-feeling. They erect bridges between different cultures and stimulate feeling of peace and goodwill in the world. They not only entertain but promote relaxation from daily stress and strain. This brings peoples closer. Games and sports since dawn of civilization have helped man relax. Whatever age the Games have nurtured healthy minds. The basic spirit and game bring people togather on an emotional plane. Victory of one party is inevitable, yet the defeated try to overcome defeat in the next games. Both parties respecting each others feeling; trying to give the best performance without any malice. They happily accept unbiased decisions of the referee. The defeated congratulates the victor and the victor inspires the latter to try again. Rules of the game have to be observed. The games teach players to be disciplined, restrained and unbiased.

Tourism creates the feeling that wherever we are, we are not separate from others. The tourist leaving his country and culture comes to a new country and society that opens his mind and heart. Coming to a new place, seeing a world out of his own, gives a new dimension to his perception and sensibility. There might be individual differences even in the same family yet there are universal feelings and love. This truth is unraveled by tourism.

Some times a tourist visiting a country of totally different culture identifies himself with it. This is clearly seen in Varanasi where a foreign tourist performes his marriage according to Hindu rituals or decides to live at ghats for spiritual gains. Searching for years, they found it here in no time. This is the basic feeling of tourism linking hearts and transcending geographical boundaries and cultures. That is why man today is resorting to games and tourism for world welfare.

These two can eliminate the negative aspects of world civilization; the two are actually complementary and supplementary to each other. International sports events promote tourism for professionals and fans. They increase the tourism potential of a country and also generate employment, economic resources and certainly entertain. They build infrastructures of various kinds, like hotels and restaurants give help to various tourism related employment.

On one hand tourism brings peoples together, on the other hand it generates the feeling of world kinship, tolerance and goodwill.

The World Tourism Organization and International Olympic Committee are performing important roles in this direction and several concrete measures have been taken. Both organization are helping mutual understanding and world welfare.

Every year on 27th September we celebrate the day for bringing the world closer. Games can bring countries closer, even hostile countries. What could be a better example than India and Pakistan? Cricket could do what diplomats could not in many years. Come let us bind the world with thread of human values and loves through sports and tourism. Let us reap the benefit of world welfare through entertainment and make full use of the two edged sports and tourism. Long live world peace and fellow-feeling among all.

Tourism : A Driving Force For Poverty Alleviation, Job Creation And Social Harmony

As in past years, today on 27th September we celebrate World Tourism Day. The World Tourism Organization, based in the Spanish Capital of Madrid, every year gives us a slogan, a subject to inspire us to move forward giving us an opportunity to understand the importance of tourism. It would be no exaggeration to say that tourism is the key that can open every door of development to the developing nations. The depressing shadow of poverty is looming large over four thousand millions of the world, out of which half of them, survive on less than a dollar per day. Undoubtedly removal of poverty is the greatest challenge before the world in this millennium. The world community considers tourism as a factor to remove poverty, create employment and bring about social harmony.

The developing nation like India has nurtured the dream of becoming a developed nation by the year 2020 wher every citizen rises above the poverty line and there basic need of food, clothing and house for all. There are prosperous developed nations like the U.S.A. and Japan on one hand and on the other hand you have India, Pakistan, Nepal etc. fighting against poverty.  The W.T.O.’s thinking about tourism is laudable. The role of tourism is so vast that it is difficult to express in words. It is present at every step of human development. The word tourism implies a great objective, utility and wide meaning. The merit of this smoke free industry is yet to be understood. This profession has huge employment potential provided we understand it properly. Our ancient land has many diversities. We have attraction for every kind of tourist. There are Buddhist pilgrims places, then there are sacred cities like Varanasi and Prayag (Allahabad) for the Hindus.

There are fertile Gangetic plains and lofty snowy peaks of the Himalayas; the unique Taj Mahal, stately palaces of Rajasthan; the Arabian Sea, the Indian ocean, rich sea beaches around Bay of Bengal, the remains of ancient civilization like Dhaulavir, Lothal and Kalibanga; the mixed life style of Goa etc; and the unique Indian concept of atithi devo bhava, the guest is god. What don’t we have? The world is eager to know, hear, and see the world leader India. Someone has rightly put it “discover India discover your self”.

If it benefits the skilled tourism professional, it also profits the laundry man and rickshaw puller. Tourism provides knowledge, understanding and culture on one hand and on the other provides employment to the educated unemployed. Have a look at various people benefited – airhostess, pilot, taxi driver,  porter, travel agent, tourist guide, hotel manager, receptionist, cook, bus driver, conductor,  salesman, craftsmen and seller, rickshaw puller, boatman, flower  seller etc.

In recent years the industry has attracted the youth and so has increased our attempt to attract tourists. But during the last two years the industry could not reap expected profit because of political instability, natural calamity, international conflict, and new infectious disease. This has given a severe blow to the tourism to remove poverty. Poverty is actually one of the cause of public discontent. Tourism through prosperity can eliminate this discontent and create a harmonious society.

When the  tourist visits another country and culture he is  affected by many things there. The feeling of world family is germinated in him. He cultivates the feeling of love and regard for another nation and its culture. He has the feeling of belonging. Lack of communication ends and comes the initiative to understand each other. Thus begins mutual interaction and fraternity.

Lack of education, ignorance, unemployment and population explosion give birth to religious fanaticism, factionalism and terrorism. The world grappling with starvation, poverty and unemployment is forced to fight against terrorism. Human bomb and suicide squads have made peace loving nations hapless. Under the circumstances if anything can bridge the gulf between the hearts of human beings, it is tourism. Reaching others, understanding them, making friends will creat a world state and every individual become its member; share each other’s sorrow and suffering. Tourism will bring people closer together.

Constitutional governments are failing to provide job, employment opportunities are shrinking and unemployment in causing hunger and discontent. Therefore we have to look for globally effective and meaningful alternatives. Our experience tells us that tourism is the solution. The W.T.O. has appropriately given the slogan to achieve this sacred objective. If we honestly translate the slogan into action, sure we would definitely contribute immensely to world welfare and attain laurels.

Ecotourism : Key To Sustainable Development

We celebrate World Tourism Day on 27th September and through different activities we carry the message of the importance of tourism to the masses. Every year the Madrid based World Tourism Organization(W.T.O) guides us by giving a slogan. It not only inspires us to follow the right path but also warns us about future dangers. It has been to awaken the present generation by giving such meaningful slogans like “Technology and Nature : Two challenges to tourism in the Twenty First Century” and “Tourism : Means For Peace and Dialogue Among World Civilization”. This year through a meaningful theme “Ecotourism: Key To Sustainable Development” has warned the world. Let us think it over.

Since the beginning of human development tourism is important not only economically but also socially, politically, culturally and educationally. Man’s roaming instinct has brought the world together, giving birth to the feeling of global family. When we visit another country we affect its ecology. Our presence and needs affect the culture, atmosphere and surroundings of a particular place one way or the other. The presence of a large number of tourists at a place also jeopardizes the vegetation, beings and lives of men. And hence begins imbalance in nature. This ecological imbalance upsets the harmony of life and man has to pay for it.

Modern man is grossly materialistic. He is puffed up calling himself modern. His vision is narrow, believing only in the present. He lives in the present calling the past backward and not concerned with the future. Leading a fast life, he is reduced to a machine. Years back the Hindi poet Dinkar had rightly expressed his concern :

“Listen, folks, if you can, man
Still violent, blood thirsty,
The mind demonic curious
To know the concrete
When thunders his ego
He spews venom fatal,
Forgetting the auspicious,
Science too mere source
Of destruction from him”

How can such man save the universe? When will he be concerned about the earth? Sure tremendous development has taken us to a new era. We are drunk on development. Our eyes are clouded with ignorance like Asian brown clouds over Asia. The development-afflicted eyes fail to see like such dangerous clouds that have changed the cycle of seasons. We have the turmoil of flood, drought, global warming and depletion of wild life and forest wealth.

Development dazzles us but we fail to observe the accompanying shadow of destruction. We are happy with development but years later when calamities rain from the sky we go for earth summits in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. Only time will tell how suicidal neglect of the earth will be for its inhabitants. But what is certain is that nature will bring about balance in whose process destruction is inevitable to prevent which we will have to consider ponder over ecological balance. We have increased resources for tourism development, facilities, and adopted new technology but have not bothered about safety from dangers caused by tourism or their solution. We have not opened doors to new destinations for tourists after assessing the enduring capacity of a particular place.

Recently my roaming tendency took me to Wyndham  Fall in Mirzapur, the adjacent district to my own. On my return the whole night many questions gnawed at me.. What right do we have to pollute the crystal waters of the fall or spoil the music of the murmuring stream with our loud tape music? To leave debris from our picnic and harm the ecology by leaving non-biodegradable plastic is a curse of modern civilization. We only know to receive, not to give. Man is cutting the branch on which he is sitting. He is bound to fall.The modern man in the name of myriad development projects is disturbing the flora and fauna and this act is as irresponsible as pulling down a great cathedral in order to grow potatoes on the site. If we were eco-friendly, things would change. Use paper, leaves, earthen pots instead of plastic.

The world has to come forward to promote ecotourism, to develop alternative nature sources of energy. A Government of India enterprise has provided, non-polluting bus from alternative energy to allow tourists to visit the Taj Mahal.; certainly a laudable effort. In Varanasi we prefer man-rowed  boats to motorboats for boat rides in the Ganga; a laudable step on part of Benarasis. But a lot more is to be done. We have only to look for the required vision. We have to love and regard Mother Nature, bearing in mind Coleridge’s lines that have become a dire necessity today.

” Lady, we receive but what we give
In Nature alone we live.”

Today we have forgotten that we are a constituent of nature. The only difference being that man with his endowment of wisdom and discretion has received more than others. For harmony and happiness all constituents have to be friendly. We have to realize that the entire universe is ours; we have to gird up our loins to wage global war against natural imbalance.

Material development is not the end, not the ultimate happiness. Human development is the ultimate goal.Mental purity alone can bring continuous development, otherwise material upliftment will prove futile. If we desire unbroken development we will have to stop the exploitation of the earth. For unhindered movement of development, we have to adopt ecotourism and to stop everything against nature.

Ecotourism alone is the key to every kind of development.

Tourism : A Tool For Peace & Dialogue Among Civilizations

Every year on 27th September we celebrate the world Tourism Day. This year we and the world are doing so. Every year the Madrid based World Tourism Organization gives a slogan to different countries as theme. This year it is tourism as a tool for peace and dialogue among civilization.

Let us think over this subject and urge all countries to initiate the march of the entire world on the noble path of world peace.

Man is just man, whether from Japan, Honolulu, Africa or the Indian sub-continent. Man every where has the same sensibility, emotions, flaws and qualities. He is a member of earth and, therefore, equally responsible for its betterment or fall.

Along with growth of civilization we shared our happiness and sorrows, inventions and accomplishments. Human instinct of curiosity and search unravelled the deep mysteries of the universe is benefiting everyone. But simultaneously came our fall in many respects. In rivalry of monopoly from countries came the destructive nuclear weapon. The terrible memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not forgotten. The blot on humanity cannot be removed easily. Whether conflict in Iran, Iraq, Philistine, India, Pakistan, Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha image – they all put us in dark. After all what do we want to achieve? Is there any end to mutual animosity and hate?The Attack on America by terrorists  in September 2001 and the killing of thousands of innocent people, suicide groups killing in Kashmir etc. are issues that remain unanswered . We have to find the answer.

And the answer is tourism. Discoveries by of Vasco De Gama and Columbus opened new gates of peace and dialogue. Surely tourism cuts down distance among peoples and make significant contribution to world peace. The bitterness between India and Pakistan can only be removed by free travel of peoples of the two countries. From time to time our leaders have taken initiative like the Lahore journey and Musharraf’s visit to India with his wife. The whole world looked keenly at the Agra summit whether as dialogue through tourism or vice-versa. The city of love Agra is chosen as venue. Whatever the outcome, indirectly the credit to this path of peace goes to tourism.

Tourism can be seen as a link of commercial and cultural exchange between two countries. When a tourist visits countries for study of the culture and sees monuments and remains he is influenced by the culture of the country. He goes back with objects purchased there and thus begins trade relationships. That naturally brings the peoples together. This closeness brings friendship and them comes dialogue between two nations. And this results in dialogue peace, and goodwill. Peace opens the gates of development and helps prosperity of nations.

Perhaps tourism is the only means today to bring amity to the warring countries of Central Asia; an opportunity to understand each other and bring peace.

Taken seriously tourism can play a vital role in bringing peace. Studies show that people want peace with neighbours and exchange of ideas. No nation wants to be confined to her boundaries. The broken remains of the Berlin wall grace drawing rooms of German people. Every German would be proud of unification of his country. They must be feeling contented pulling down the dividing wall and presenting an example before the world. They wouldn’t feel any hesitation in calling themselves superior.

Today man wants to see and know the world. He wants to find a place in people’s heart through the means of tourism. Today people of many countries have a special feeling and regard for India. This could only be possible through tourism. The unique India with her cuisine, colorful dress, monuments and palaces, hospitality, diversity etc.

Ancient civilizations of Egypt and China take the tourist to antiquity through pyramids and the Great wall. Bhutan and Tibet with ancient culture attract our mind.

Many buildings have been declared world heritage to be taken care of by the whole world so they remain intact for posterity. Tourism has increased peoples awareness for maintaining historical, cultural, and artistic heritage.

Undoubtedly tourism has emerged as a means of world peace and dialogue.
Let us carry the message of tourism to the masses. Be it national unity or vision of world state, tourism has a vital role to play. Some one has rightly said,

“What gained confined, found the world coming out.”

Technology & Nature: Two Challenges For Tourism At The Dawn Of The Twenty First Century

Every year on 27th September we celebrate World Tourism Day when we draw world attention to the importance of tourism and its role is social, economic and cultural sphere. At the dawn of the new century technology with its developments has opened new avenues for tourism. Information technology, transport facilities, worldwide internet reaches even villages; and mobile phone have ushered in a new era of the 21st century.

New technology has brought about revolutionary changes in tourism. Technology has entered every sphere of life, tourism has reaped its maximum benefit. Developments in the transportation sector would certainly make travel fast, secure, comfortable and easy. Science is both a boon and curse nectar or poison-depending on its use or misuse. The careless or irrresponsible use of technology can disturb the ecological balance and its impact upon Nature and Tourism could be devastating. Technology has given us many things but has made us unaware of future danger. Number of aware people caught up in the blind race for development have declined. Two challenges to increase tourism are: technology and nature.

Let us think over these challenges in the context by our country on World Tourism Day. This merits attention by the whole country, not simply those associated with tourism. Where will we stand in coming years? What will be our tourism policy? What will be the role of tourism in generating employment? The answer to these questions is in the womb of the future. But one thing is clear, this smoke-free industries with lesser investment in comparison to other industries generates more employment. Our country with its variety and vast area has everything to attract tourists, we need perception and will power. We have never estimated the economics of tourism. Giving direct and indirect employment to the millions, it strengthens the country economically by earning foreign exchange. We will have to think over how to keep pace in future tourism growth . Only the future will tell how far the youths are able to benefit by training themselves in new technology.

In present context none can deny that the man has to harmonize between technology and nature. It is inevitable and it cannot be attained by giving more importance to either. Both have equal importance. New technology makes life easier but natural imbalance is a threat to life. If innovation in medical science has freed man from many diseases it has also increased cancer like deadly diseases by damaging the ozone layer. Air pollution in big cities has made the masses victim of lung diseases. Harmony between development and ecology is essential.

How long will we exploit nature in the name of development? Material accomplishments have dazzled us, we are not aware of injustice meted out to nature. Now slowly the world is realizing the ecological imbalances caused by technology and tourism development. That is why we are mindful of maintaining the pristine form of ecology along with expansion of tourism maintaining and conserving the snowy Himalayas, wild-life, remains of ancient civilizations, the Taj, Ghats of Varanasi and many other places.

When the tourist visits a place this affects the ecology. . Tourism also creates love for natural scenes and wild-life which conserves them both.

It is not easy to keep our culture intact in today’s globalization. Cable TV has brought western culture to our rooms and we cannot stop its influence on the young. Foreign sexual behavior and clothes and life style brings about cultural pollution. Poisonous exhaust from automobiles pollutes the atmosphere. Pollution in rivers is a threat both to man and water creature.

The way out is to protect nature by new technology. Preference is to be given to the alternate sources of energy. Science has made everything possible. There are ways to stop every kind of pollution. The only thing needed is will to act. Both citizens and the government are responsible for nature’s imbalance. It is strange that a few months ago citizens of Varanasi would throw garbage in the bin because of a municipal officer but now would throw it anywhere.

Celebration of World Tourism Day, coverage in the press, drinking and meetings in five star hotels, flowery speeches, are not enough. Without genuine commitment to the nation, mother nature and the soil, every effort is meaningless. It is ridiculous to see people planning in air conditioned offices ignoring the people directly related to it. How long would paper horses run? They have to perish.

In the end, I appeal to all sensible citizens to understand the delicate relationship of technology, man and nature because they are interdependent and can not be separated. It is quite imperative that we harvest the benifits of modern technology and learn to give.

Tourism : Development and Environmental Protection Towards A lasting Harmony

Tourism and ecology go together. They are complimentary to each other. Tourism is a means of nation’s economic development. Tourism brings happiness and prosperity without injuring the ecology. The planned development of tourism conserves the ecology, natural and cultural heritage and is watchful towards cleanliness and health.

India has unlimited cultural and natural wealth for the curious tourists: the breathtaking beauty of the Himalayas, roaring sea waves, sprawling forests, wild-life, Taj, Qutubminar, Red Fort, Khajuraho, Ajanta-Ellora and Varanasi the cultural capital. We have rare wealth for the tourist. But can we conserve them  in this race for development? Shall this good earth of ours, India, be able to maintain her charm and beauty? These questions make us dumb and raise a big question of identity, of unbroken culture, of handing over heritage to the future generations.

The ambitious materialist hammers about development and he chants this always. What kind of development? Development of luxury goods and machines or development of means to provide food to the increasing millions? He who climbs on the ladder of development knows not the last rung. We notice all that science has given us but we notice not what it has robbed us of. Iron jaws of machine have gobbled up the greenery and robbed the quietitude of the valleys. The shaman of development has hypnotized us with the herb of materialism. Our traditions, customs, festivals, and melas look obsolete. We are reduced to decorating our drawing room with synthetic flowers, electronic gadgets and cars determining our status. The soothing music of cataracts and cirping of birds is replaced by ear-splitting sound of powerful audio-systems in whose loud noise the mechanical man, sick of the fast life, finds refuge to relax.

Development has murdered our sensitivity. The culprit is science but judgment will go against man, for he alone is to blame for his destruction. Today man has insulted nature, who gave life to our ancestors. Worshipping Neem, Peepal, Tulsi is our expression of gratitude towards these boons of nature. We have seated the cow and  Ganga on the highest pedestal. We swear in their names most solemnly. But man crushing nature under his feet is denying the mutual harmony between nature, matter and science. Will she forgive us? We must ponder. Every creature on the earth is important. Nothing is without use. Nature maintains balance, which makes life possible. Unscrupulous exploitation is causing hot house effect. Erosion of earth and deforestation is raising sea level which may sink cities and affect adversely the monsoon season.

Nature has given us the protective shield of the atmosphere above which is the ozone layer. Poisonous gases, smoke carbon monoxide etc. are harming ozone. Damage to the ozone layer means exposure to ultraviolet rays that cause cancer and are a threat to life. We have to do something so that we are not cursed by the success of our progress. Let future generations enjoy the progress and thank us in this regard. Come to Varanasi our city, we have much to do and a long way to go. Movement of bureaucracy is notoriously slow unless each of us realize and share responsibility nothing will come. Our involvement should be selfless not egoistical and publicized so that we become responsible citizens.

Myriads of Indian and foreign tourists come to the Ganga. The believers bathe in her, take her holy water and even carry it home. What faith and reverence do they have ! The city filth despite filtering machine reaches her from many points. The tourist loves to move through the world famous lanes and alleys but dares not look below. Can we not clean some of these tourist frequented lanes? Providing a clean atmosphere and cleanliness is our moral responsibility. Every citizen of Varanasi should be made aware of this through seminars, film shows, plantations, cultural programs etc. So in this age of globalization we must not lose our identity but remain Banarasi pure and unadulterated.

The Free Movement Of Tourist Creates One World

In India, a developing nation, tourism plays a vital role in the economy. The Indian subcontinent has rich diversity of nature-from the parching desert of Rajasthan to the icy wind of Ladakh, several kinds of clothing, food habits and life styles. This is a land of many hues for which myriads of foreign tourists visit India. We treat them with affection and honour enshrined in our tradition of “Guest is God” in return for which we earn precious foreign currency and respect all over the world. Amid the arms race, the Indian citizens spread the message of peace and coexistence. When a tourist comes and understands the land of Buddha he realizes that India has spread the message of Buddhism in through out Asia. The ideal of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is a family) shall one day translate it into action; tourism is the means to accomplish it.
When peoples of different lands meet, interact and make friends, such relationships foster brotherhood. When a country aims a missile out of ill-will at another country their own people inspired by the feeling of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam would turn it away. This is only possible when there is free and unhindered tourist traffic. And who is responsible for it, the Department of Tourism, World Tourism Organization or every citizen? Besides being Indian citizens we are also world citizen and along with rights we also have duties: we have to ponder how to make free tourist traffic possible and how can we thread the world together with flowers so fragrant with the feelings of love, compassion and amity.

Our hospitality and responsibility, begins the moment a foreign tourist steps into an Indian aircraft. The airhostesses with their smiles arouse curiosity and one becomes eager to reach India soon. The cuisine served to him allows him to taste food of different Indian states. At that very moment he realizes India’s diversity. Entering the Hotel he is welcomed by employees in colorful native, costumes and with the well planned program of travel agents; he is provided with a competent guide-cultural ambassador who takes him to different places. The guide answers his inquisitive questions. The tourist wants a welcome smile from people whom he meets in the city and wants to adjust himself to new places and surroundings. He takes interest in different things and enjoys them. Touring India is cheaper as compared to other countries and ours is a most beautiful countries. Our peoples, monuments, tradition, customs and cultural heritage leave a lasting impression on him and he returns to his land happy. Indian culture attracts him and binds him in some context. His impression of India is transmitted to his friends and relatives also. And thus one tourist is instrumental in sending many more to India.

But the coin has two sides. On the one hand tourism people are reaping benefit from their profession but on the other some unscrupulous people (out of selfishness, greed, want of patriotism and ignorance) are tarnishing the profession which also adversely affects the effort to bring the world together. Have we ever thought how much harm we inflict on the nation because of selfishness? We should spend sometime to think this over on World Tourism Day. Let us think about and remember our mistake known and unknown.

Occasionaly airlines fail to take tourists to their destination despite confirmed tickets. Sometimes they have to wait for hours for the airplanes. They also have to bear unpleasant behavior of hotel staff. Is it fair to send incompetent, lazy, careless guides to conduct a package tours, whether government or private. Charging $5 for a short distance drive on rickshaw is not proper. Exploiting foreign tourists for photographs at burning Ghat tarnishes country’s image. Callousness of cleaning staff undoes government slogan of “Keep India Clean” or  “Keep Kashi Clean.”

Attracted by tourism literature the foreign tourist comes to Varanasi to see its lanes which he finds dirty and stinking. The situation worsens when the bandaged lepers stop him to beg. When he stops at a shop to see goods he is surrounded by potty peddler and beggar children. Enjoying boat ride, looking at stately ghats he is perturbed by the stink of a dead body floating in the river. When a tourist hires a boat, the boat men charge exorbitantly. Sometimes an untrained guide shows some other temple and calls it Vishwanath.When a tourist wants to photograph the golden temple (Vishvanath temple )he is disappointed. At times the licensed guide becomes victim of police insolence because the general feeling is that every foreign tourist is rich and so is the guide. On this day we can not deny the relevance of the World Tourism Organization’s slogan “The free movement of tourist creates one world.” But how to spread this feeling among people is the question of the hour.