June 5, 2010 Leave a comment
Udhagamandalam: The parking lot for tourist vehicles just off the road leading to the Government Botanical Garden, the most popular tourist spot in this vacation destination is crammed even after the commencement of the wet season, clearly indicating that be it Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn, the Blue Mountains (The Nilgiris) continues to be South India’s premier hill station, notwithstanding its haphazard development.
Thanks to the disturbances in tourist resorts like Kashmir, more tourists are flocking to Udhagamandalam and the nearby towns as a result of which there is a steady stream of visitors round the year.
However there is feeling among the concerned citizens of the Nilgiris that the tourist traffic is being taken for granted.
Already discerning tourists, both domestic and foreign, are reluctant to make a repeat visit, particularly to Udhagamandalam.
“We have had enough,” is their refrain, adverting to the lack of civic amenities.
In particular, the problems relating to parking are testing their patience.
During the just-concluded season, inadequate space and consequent haphazard parking was the most glaring shortcoming.
The appalling condition of the Kodappamund channel running through the heart of the town made many tourists squirm with disgust.
Apart from being an eye sore, it is now being seen as a major health hazard.
Udhagamandalam, which is already beset with ecological and environmental problems, will soon start resembling a “glorified slum” if steps are not initiated without delay to improve the channel and remove the encroachments in various parts of the town.
Among the other shortcomings pointed out by the tourists were the presence of stray animals like horses, cows and goats on the main roads and the occupation of footpaths by vendors of items ranging from footwear to vegetables.
The roadside encroachments are on the increase, thanks mainly to the “defiant” attitude of small-time politicians who have the blessings of persons with considerable political clout.
Meanwhile, some of the hoteliers and others directly or indirectly dependent on the tourism industry are of the view that too much attention should not be given to the civic problems.
However this is countered by the concerned citizens who opine that attracting tourists “by hook or by crook” does not augur well for the future of the industry, the town and the people.