Summers in Rajasthan have become more enthralling — courtesy night tourism, which is taking tourist numbers in the lean season to new heights in the desert state.
Colourful lights sparkling bright under the dark sky create a unique contrast, enhancing the beauty of the already spectacular-looking palaces, gardens and museums, wooing tourists from around the world.
The idea, under which travellers can visit the major attractions from 6 p.m. till 10 p.m., was taken up to check the dwindling number of tourists during the summers, when the sweltering heat during the day is a deterrent.
Introduced by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corp, the concept was launched in 2015 and has become a boon for the tourism industry.
“A total of 12.2 lakh tourists have visited the monuments illuminated at night and the total revenue earned is Rs 12.2 crore as against the total capital expenditure of Rs 4.27 crore made on installation of lighting fixtures,” said Hridesh Kumar Sharma, Director, Archaeology and Museums, Rajasthan.
The project was first implemented in Amber Fort. Albert Hall was thrown open on September 30, 2015, and Vidhyadhar Garden followed on June 5, 2017.
“We will be adding more attractions,” Sharma told IANS.
“We all agreed that monuments will look beautiful during the night if lighted up. Even the tourists will be excited to find something interesting to do after sun-down.”
With a fixed tariff of Rs 100 for both domestic and foreign visitors, the response to a lit-up Amber Fort was spectacular. Ditto for other places.
“They (tourists) were all quite excited. We eventually started promoting the concept by starting a few activities. For example, we started organising classical dance on each purnima, which was free of cost. The idea was to generate interest and the response was whopping.
“Looking at the rising interest in Amber, we took it up in Albert Hall. Today, the exquisite lighting adorning the facade of Albert Hall museum forces passers-by to stop and click a selfie,” said Sharma.
Next came Vidhyadhar Garden, which is built on the pattern of Mughal Gardens in Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan. Here, the flow of tourists is currently a trickle, but is gaining strength with time.
Said another official: “During festivals, we have been organising special programmes in these monuments to draw more crowds. During the annual Literature Festival, we organised a Sufi festival, book readings and more.”
The entire travel fraternity, including tour operators, websites, travel agents and marketing firms, helped promote the concept.
Officials and industry experts feel the numbers will increase as people get to know about this unique see-Rajasthan-at-night drive.
Now night tourism has been introduced in other towns of Rajasthan too.
“Be it Pali, Sikar, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Ajmer or Jaisalmer, we did upgradation and restoration of museums and soon they were opened from 12 noon to 8 p.m.” Sharma said, noting crime was not an issue in Rajasthan.
Asked if night tourism should be introduced in other parts of India, he said: “It can work wonders for the Taj Mahal… Even Red Fort, a few temples in the south, Karnataka forts, Golconda Fort (in Hyderabad) and others can also try it.
“As we have scripted a success story, other states should definitely emulate it,” he added.