Rajasthan trouble hits Golden Triangle tourism


Agra : The continuing unrest by Gujjars in Rajasthan demanding tribal status has severely affected tourism in the Golden Triangle circuit that includes Agra and New Delhi besides the desert state.

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Travel agents and hoteliers said several groups of foreign tourists were stranded in Agra and Jaipur while many others had chosen to return to New Delhi to catch a flight back home.

"Hundreds of tourists have extended their stay in Agra hoping things would normalise in a day or two so they can proceed to Jaipur," Sunil Gupta, chairman of the Uttar Pradesh chapter of the All India Tour and Travel Association, told IANS.

He said agents from eight countries in Agra were scheduled to go to Jaipur, but they cancelled their programme and returned to New Delhi.

Rajsthan, New Delhi and Jaipur form the most frequented tourist triangle in India.

Rajiv Saxena, another travel agent, said that tourists were facing all sorts of problems due to continued blockade of the Agra-Jaipur highway.

"The tourists arriving in Agra from alternate routes have had to spend six to eight hours extra and undergo all sorts of problems and uncertainties," he said.

Tourists between Agra and Jaipur are travelling via Alwar, taking six hours more in this hot weather.

The merchants' chambers have expressed deep concern over the continued violence in Rajasthan, which has left over 20 people dead.

"Exports have been affected. Glass goods from Firozabad (near Agra), Agra shoes, are all held up here. The losses continue to mount. Supplies to Gujarat and beyond have been hit, especially container movement to western India have been seriously affected," said an exporter.

Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers to Rajasthan waited endlessly at the Idgah bus stand.

"We are waiting for a bus to go to Balaji, but there are no buses," complained Atma Ram. "It's such an inconvenience in this hot weather," added Jagdish of Agra's Loha Mandi area.

Meanwhile, Gujjars in Agra area bordering Rajasthan held several rounds of meetings to mobilise support for their community in that state. The Agra-Gwalior road traffic was disrupted for some time Thursday.

Hundreds of villages in Agra on the border with Dholpur have sizeable population of Gujjars, who have felt bypassed and neglected.

"If the agitation continues for a day longer, it would be a severe jolt to the tourism industry in this Golden Triangle," said Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurant Association.