BJP MPs from Odisha have written to the Centre asking for the inclusion of two tourist spots from the state in the list of India’s Iconic Tourist Sites.
The reference to the development of 17 iconic tourism sites in India in Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech earlier this year had garnered strong criticism from BJD, as no monument or tourist site from the state had made it to the list.
The letter by BJP MPs, that was written earlier this week and released on Friday, requests the Union Tourism Ministry to include the Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Sun Temple in Konark to the list.
Calling both temples a “matchless mix of heritage and spirituality”, the signatories proposed a holistic development of tourism for Raghurajpur crafts village and the Chilika Lake as well. The letter has been signed both by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs representing the state.
Last month, Patnaik had written to the Centre on the issue and had proposed that it select two of five tourism site options from the state for the list. The options he listed included the Sun Temple, the Chilika Lake, the Bhitarkanika National Park, the Simlipal National Park and the Diamond Triangle Buddhist Circuit.
According to a written reply by former Tourism Minister K J Alphons in 2018, the 17 sites identified are: the Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh; Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra; Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi; Colva Beach in Goa, Amer Fort in Rajasthan; Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat; Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh; Hampi in Karnataka; Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu; Assam-Kaziranga in Assam; Kumarakom in Kerala and Mahabodhi in Bihar.
“The ministry shall be developing the above sites in a holistic manner with a focus on issues concerning connectivity to the destination, better facilities/experience for the tourists at the site, skill development, the involvement of local community, promotion and branding and by bringing in private investment,” Alphons had said.