TOURISM: Venue eludes mango fest

TOURISM: Venue eludes mango fest – any delicious surprise at Bengal’s apathy & snide power games ?!!

A net placed on the branch of a mango tree in Malda to collect the ripe fruits. (Photo by Surajit Roy)

FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT

Malda, June 16: The state tourism department has scheduled a mango festival in Malda for next week and offered packages for tourists, but it is in a bind after finding that the district headquarters does not have an air-conditioned hall with a sprawling lawn to display the fruit.

The organisers have lined up the event with a package to visit nearby places of tourist interest like Gour Malda and the Adina deer park. The festival is lined up for June 23 and 24.

Sources said a tourist from Calcutta would be charged Rs 2,990. “He will be taken to Malda on AC buses and provided with accommodation in three-star hotels for two days. The package includes visits to Gour and Adina,” said an official.

The district authorities, who were approached by the tourism department, are looking for a 2,000-square-feet AC venue and a lawn to host the festival. “We are getting big hotels and conference rooms of required size. But the lawns are missing in the town,” said an official.

The administration is cautious not to repeat a mistake it had committed last year by holding the festival at a place far from the town. According to sources, the festival that was held at a hotel in Narayanpur, 8km from the town, had failed to attract large crowds.

Debal Ghosh, the general manager of the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, which is holding the festival in association with the horticulture department, had discussed the problems with Malda district magistrate P.K. Samanta on Monday.

“This is the season for mangoes and tourists coming to Gour or Adina might like to taste Malda’s famous fruit. We are looking for an AC hall with a vast lawn to display mangoes, especially now that the famous langra varieties are ready for consumption,” said Samanata.

Gour, 22km from here, was the centre of power in ancient days and excavations by the Archeological Survey of India have yielded the remnants of palaces and other structures.

Samanata said the Malda College auditorium was air-conditioned and it had a big open ground. “But the atmosphere to hold a festival there is missing. The conference hall of the collectorate may be used now. But nothing has been finalised yet,” he said.

But the tourism department is fast running out of time to put in arrangements for the event.

“With barely a week left for the festival, we have had several bookings from groups of tourists who are eager to make the trip. If the festival falls through, we will have to refund the money,” said an official of the state tourism department in Calcutta.

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