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Published on : Friday, December 2, 2016
Travel And Tour World engages in a conversation with Smt. Valsa Nair Singh, the Principal Secretary Tourism for the Indian state of Maharashtra, at the WTM 2016 in London.
Travel And Tour World: Maharashtra is the state of India where we find places like Mumbai. What else to be found in Maharashtra that is great for tourists?
Smt. Singh: Maharashtra is not just Mumbai but the whole world knows it as only Mumbai. Mumbai is probably only one tenth of what Maharashtra is, in terms of a tourism asset and in terms of attractiveness. Maharashtra has Nasik, which is the wine capital of the country; it is like the Napa Valley of the east. There is Puna, which is the cultural part of the state. There is Aurangabad, which is the heritage capital of the state. There is Nagpur, which is the tiger capital of the country. So, I think Maharashtra has a very wide range to offer to the tourists. Aurangabad, for instance, is a city which boasts two world heritage sites; the amazing Ajanta Caves, which are thousand rock-cut caves, from the 2nd century BC. It also has the Elora Kailashnath Temple, which is the biggest temple in the world, made of a single rock cut cave. Two hours from Aurangabad, you will reach Lonar, which is the biggest natural crater in the earth; it is 50 thousand years old. Maharashtra also boasts of 720 kilometres of virgin beaches. Puna is the cultural hub of this state. And the traditions and the festivals that the state has, are mesmerizing. I would like to specially mention the Ganesh Festival, which is a ten day festival, in which the entire state celebrates. It is not just confined to households, you see it on the streets, you see it all around. Whole state celebrates the festival of its favourite God Ganesha. Dussera is another big festival, which Maharashtrians celebrate with pride. The unique selling point that Maharashtra has is the amazing number of forts built by Chattrapati Shibhaji Maharaj, the erstwhile ruler of the state. There are unique sea forts, there are island forts in the Arabian sea, which are architectural marvels. They were fortresses meant to prevent enemy from invading the country, and today they stand as citadels of the master pieces of human architecture. We are developing these now as tourism destinations, as culture villages and I would say that these are one of the biggest tourism assets of our state. Apart from the sea forts, we also have a large number of mountain forts. These forts also speak of the war time strategy of many centuries ago, before internet, before guns and pistols came in. Then it was just man-to-man combat and house strategies. These forts are standing examples of how the military strategies of those days were done. These are very big heritage attractions for the state. Finally, there is Mumbai, the fashion capital, the glamour capital, the event capital of the country. So, I think all in all, Maharashtra has a lot to offer to any tourist who comes here. If you are a peace loving tourist, go to one of our hill stations and forget yourself. We have Matheran, the only hill station, which doesn’t allow regular traffic. We have Mahabaleswar, where watching the rains can take your breath away. The choices are there on the platter, what are you waiting for!