TOURISM: Spots that ache for attraction

TOURISM: Spots that ache for attraction – only to be short-circuited by bad roads, infrastructure and  poor promotion by a smug Bengal ?!!

 

How to get there - if one is willing to risk it ?!!

FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY MEHEDI HEDAYTULLAH

 

Islampur, Oct. 22: Century-old mosques, palaces, houses of zamindars, temples, forests, tea estates and water bodies — these are some key attractions in North Dinajpur district, although only the Kulik Bird Sanctuary can be spotted on the state tourism map now.

“A number of historical, religious and picturesque places are spread across the district but unfortunately, the district administration has taken no initiative to develop these areas as tourism destinations and to ensure amenities for visitors,” said Brindaban Ghosh, a historian.

“The district is neglected by the state tourism department as well. Never in my life have I heard of the department doing something to exploit the tourism potential of these sites and thereby create employment opportunities.”

According to Ghosh, a number of historical sites are in ruins because of lack of maintenance.

Islampur subdivision is blessed with two forests — one at Haptiagach in Chopra block with the Mahananda and the Teesta flowing on either side and the other at Sapnikola in Ramganj with a sprawling lake.

“Both these sites can be developed. Facilities like boating and angling can be arranged in the water bodies and people can spend a good time,” said a resident. “The Sapnikola forest is located only 6km from NH31 and felling of trees has become rampant there because of the nonchalant attitude of the authorities.”

The district has also on offer places of worship for people interested in religious tourism. Among them are Sonakhoda mosque in Islampur built during the Mughal regime, and Bhairavi and Vishnu temples located at Bindol near Raiganj and at Karandighi. “There are age old temples on the islands in Karandighi and Hosendighi lakes and in the Nagar river,” said Ghosh.

All these religious sites have worn away because of lack of maintenance. Age old palace, villas of zamindars (land lords) and bungalows of British indigo farm owners are no exception.

The house of the Choudhury family of Islampur is in a dire state and walls of the palace of Bhupal Chandra Roy, the erstwhile king of Churaman in Itahar constructed during the British era, are collapsing one after another. A British era bungalow at Karandighi has turned into rubble.

“For the descendants, it is not possible to repair and renovate these huge buildings. So, we have requested the National Heritage Commission to take over the properties for their maintenance,” said former MLA Abdul Karim Choudhury, a member of the Choudhury family of Islampur.

Most of the sites are located in rural areas, away from Raiganj and Islampur towns.

People want the state tourism department to launch a campaign to popularise the spots. They also want pictures of these places and allied information to be exhibited in public places like bus stands and railway stations to let more people know about the attractions in North Dinajpur..

“Recently, a number of tea estates have come up in the Islampur subdivision in serene and picturesque locations. The district administration, in association with tea companies, can promote residential stay in the gardens,” said Partha Sen, a former principal of Islampur College.

“The historical places and forests can definitely attract tourists but what we need is renovation of these properties and infrastructure development before embarking on an aggressive campaign. The administration has a key role to play here,” said Joynarayan Somani, the secretary of the North Dinajpur Merchant Chamber of Commerce.

“The district administration, on its part, has held talks with the Archaeological Survey of India. Now, we plan to take up the matter with the state tourism department,” said Sunil Dandapat, the district magistrate.

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