The government has identified 50 circuits for development of tourism in the country, covering a mix of culture, heritage, spiritualism and ecotourism. Prominent among these are the Andaman and Nicobar Circuit, Kashmir Circuit, Desert Circuit in Rajasthan, Nature Tourism Circuit in West Bengal, and Beach and Fort Circuit (Mumbai to Goa).
While most of these circuits are categorised state-wise or on the basis of terrain, as many as seven sectors have been identified on the basis of faith. For instance, there is the Hindu Circuit (Haridwar-Kedarnath-Badrinath), Muslim Circuit (Nizamuddin Aulia-Ajmer Sharif-Charar-e-Sharif), Christian Circuit (St Xavier-Vellankani-St Thomas Church), Sikh Circuit (Patna Sahib-Harmandir Sahib-Hemkund Sahib-Nanded Sahib), Jain Circuit (Pawapuri-Mount Abu-Palitana-Shrawanbelgola) and Parsi Circuit (Udvada-Sanjan-Navsari). Besides, there’s also a Ramayana Circuit and a Sufi Circuit.
The Tourism Ministry has also formulated a plan called Swadesh Darshan, for integrated development of tourist circuits around specific themes. The five circuits indentified under this scheme are – Buddhist Circuit, Himalayan Circuit, Coastal Circuit, Krishna Circuit and North-East Circuit.
A Ministry official said, “In the Krishna Circuit, the Mathura and Vrindavan belt will be developed, and there will be road and rail projects to connect the region to Dwarka and Kurukshetra. In the Coastal Circuit, which was originally the Ganga Circuit, the plan is to start some short cruises. For instance, there will be a cruise between Allahabad and Varanasi.”
The Ministry provides assistance to states and UTs for various projects that are prioritised every year – subject to availability of funds and adherence to the scheme guidelines. In 2012-13, a total of 136 projects were given the nod, with Rs 929 crore sanctioned for them. In 2013-14, the number of projects sanctioned was 261, at a cost of Rs 1801 crore. In 2014-15 (till December 2014), 53 projects were sanctioned and a sum of Rs 333 crore has been earmarked for the purpose.
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