Hyderabad: For the second consecutive year, more tourists went to the Golconda fort than Charminar, where work is underway to create more space and facilities for visitors and reduce vehicular pollution. Besides, fewer visitors went to Charminar this year when compared last year.
Data with the Union ministry of culture shows that 13,78,252 tourists purchased tickets at Charminar and paid Rs 2.27 crore in 2017-18 while Golconda was ahead with 16,30,798 tourists who purchased tickets worth Rs 2.85 crore.
In 2018-19, the number of people visiting Charminar fell by more than 1.2 lakh to 12,58,027 while the tourists to Golkonda fort surged by over 2.3 lakh, to 18,64,531.
Records show there is a sharp decrease in the number of tourists visiting Warangal fort, one of the monuments in Telangana state that is protected by the Centre.
The ASI has made more money from the three monuments in TS than the five it maintains in Andhra Pradesh.
The ticket prices at Golconda are Rs 15 for an Indian, Rs 200 for foreigners, Rs 25 for a still camera and Rs 130 for the sound and light show. The entry ticket for Charminar is priced at Rs 5 per Indian and Rs 100 per foreign national.
An officer with the Archaeological Survey of India told this newspaper that the upkeep of the Golconda fort received a fillip after TS government held the flag-hoisting ceremony for Independence Day there.
This resulted in the fort receiving help from the GHMC and other civic bodies in terms of fogging and anti-larval operations to reduce mosquitoes and tree-pruning to beautify the area. Besides, fort was decked for the visit of Ms Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of US President Donald Trump, during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in 2017.
This apart, Golconda was picked for several government-sponsored dinners and private interviews of film and sports stars including P.V. Sindhu and Sania Mirza and this helped increase the attention that tourists paid to the fort.
While Charminar still remains a must-visit destination, it has really poor amenities for tourists. There is little space for parking and has no cloak rooms. The toilets are insufficient. The ASI said that it has received complaints from tourists about the lack of amenities. Thus many tourists choose to just see the Charminar from the outside, perhaps take a picture, and move away.
The mushrooming construction on all sides of Golconda fort appears to be providing it with another source of tourists. It has its deleterious effects too: The construction of a drain near the fort destroyed over 1 km of the moat. The work was stopped after protests.
Besides, there is proposal for construction of 54 villas around the fort. The company has secured a no-objection Certificate from the National Monuments Authority but there is an online petition to stop its construction. In AP, the stupa and archaeological remains at Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda, the rock-cut Undavalli temple, the Chandragiri fort have failed to draw more visitors....