Many a times I wonder why do the people world over talk so highly of Kashmir as heaven on the earth. Why should not the government of India create at least few more Kashmirs, when we do have equally or, may be, better locales in Himachal, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Bengal, Arunachal?
Himachal is wonderfully bestowed with the nature’s beauty created by snow-peaked mountains, green valleys, and beautiful rivers.
Himachal could easily get itself transformed into a developed state fast enough. Tourism alone can make the state really rich and benefit the poorer people of the state as well.
Apple cart Inn, Kriaghat
We stayed mostly in HPTDC hotels. Locations of the hotels are good, as they are right on the highways. But these hotels can also become hubs for the development of the state. HPTDC must facilitate to have some value additions to these hotels. As we found at Bhagal Hotel at Darlaghat, renovations and refurbishing are on. However, the materials in use seemed to be of inferior quality and so was the workmanship. In a renovated room that was as otherwise extremely well done, the water pipe connection of the shower was spraying water drops right up to the toilet seat. Door lock was infective. As the manager told me, Apple Cart Inn is also getting rebuilt soon with more rooms. These hotels have plenty of land with it. The tourism department must make the landscaping around the hotels world class, adding orchards and flowerbeds too. Hotels must provide Internet facilities for the customers. On the management side, each of these hotels must take in some young local boys as interns every year and provide training in various activities of the hotel business with an idea of making them entrepreneurs and self-employed in hospitality business. The employees must be made multiskilled so that the expenses can be kept low. Some additional suggestions:
1.Arrange visit and stay in Apple orchards near around Manali and Kullu. Have addresses of the willing families on the website that can provide bed and breakfast for the tourists at cost.
2.Develop Himachali cuisine; market it to make it popular. I could not find anything Himachali to eat in any of the restaurants or tourist hotels, though I asked everywhere I went.
3.Kullu has a cluster of shawl weaving factories. Arrange visits and encourage the factories to develop products with contemporary designs. Is it not surprising that we couldn’t get a typical Himachalli dress from any of the shops in Shimla as well as Manali or Kullu? Why can’t Manali’s entrepreneur make money out of their products when Kashmiris are doing that on the mall road? Himachal must use the services of ‘National Institutes of Design’ to develop its products and encourage the local fashion designers and craftsmen.
4.Himachal could develop mini hydro power plants in large number all along its rivers such as Beas and can be a source for clean energy for the nation. All these locations can be made an attractive place for tourists too.
Horticulture and Floriculture
Himachal must have an international standard airport in and around Manali for exporting its fruits such as Apples and Babugosha, besides engaging some agricultural universities to improve its quality and self-life.
It was surprising to find that HDFC and ICICI don’t have any branches not even ATMs in Manali.
Manali also doesn’t have any branded eating-houses such as McDonald, Wimpy, or Pizza Hut, though the foreign tourists visit in large number.
What could be the reason?
Before entering Manali, some agency charged Rs 200 per vehicle for a stay of seven days. However, the road between Kullu and Manali is pretty poor. Mall and its lanes are filthy with no toilets for visitors.
It is unfortunate that the roads beyond Manali up to Keylong are really bad. And the Solang Valley appeared as full of filth with lot of vendors, undesirable number of people making money out of paragliding and unplanned constructions. Himachal must come out with a code for all constructions along the roads, if it can’t ban constructions. There is no point in making a god-gifted heaven into hell for human.
But who will do all this?