Failing to attract tourists


The renovation of historic fort built by General Zorawar Singh, the famous Dogra General on the bank of River Anji at a hillock, was started several years back on the instructions of the then Governor of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir N N Vohra in order to bring the historical monument on the tourist circuit linking it with the facilities at Sula Park and Mahadev Temple Reasi. The estimated cost of the two-phased restoration and conservation project of the Bhimgarh Fort was over Rs5.67 crore, of which 40 per cent had been released to the Tourism Department by Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board on the instructions of the then Governor.
Besides the restoration work, internal area of the fort was illuminated and a cafeteria, sit-out plaza and public conveniences were created by the Tourism Department by utilizing money given by Shrine Board and granted by the Union Government under Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
More than one year back the revamped historic fort was handed over to Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums by the Tourism Department as per the instructions of the Government. However, even after expenditure of crores of rupees the historic fort has failed to attract tourists mainly because no proper planning was done to utilize the infrastructure created for the convenience of the visitors.
Till date the cafeteria, sit-out plaza, parking lot and tuck shops have not been made functional as the attempts made by the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums to outsource the same have failed to yield the desirable results and since the fort was handed over to Archives Department after renovation the Tourism Department is also not showing any interest in ensuring proper utilization of this infrastructure for providing basic facilities to the visitors. Moreover, the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums doesn't have sufficient staff for watch and ward of the fort and this can be gauged from the fact that only one Chowkidar has been deployed there. How the tourists would visit the fort when there are no basic facilities there and whosoever visits the fort doesn't encourage others for the same as even water bottle is to be carried from outside for want of operational cafeteria. Had these facilities been made operational the Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums would have started earning something for the regular maintenance of the fort, sources said while disclosing that this department doesn't have sufficient funds even to ensure proper upkeep of such a huge structure. In other States of the country the historic structures are not only properly maintained but are showcased by adopting different means but in Jammu and Kashmir everything is done with half-hearted approach otherwise Government would have made available all the facilities at BhimGarh Fort for the convenience of the visitors and chalked out strategy for promotion of this historic structure in different parts of country especially after expenditure of crores of rupees on its renovation.

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