Dwarka, a well-known pilgrimage for Lord Krishna’s devotees, seems to be losing its flavour among Janmashtami tourists.
Reasons may hinge on inflation or varying preferences according to lifestyle changes, but the end result is that the place suffers from lack of pilgrims.
Earlier, the destination attracted around 1 lakh people on such occasions, claim hoteliers, who complain that almost 25% of the rooms are empty this season. “People used to book room a month in advance.
Today, we have 25% rooms lying vacant,” said Ishwar Zakharia, president of Dwarka Hotels and Guest House Association. There is little doubt that the tourist arrival pattern has undergone changes in the holy place.
However, experts argue that people have only changed their pilgrimage timings looking at the crowd and inconvenience factor. Dwarka has 65 hotels and guest houses with total capacity of around 1,800 rooms. Pilgrims like to avoid the crowd during such festivals and choose holidays or extended weekends to visit Dwarka, they say.
“Surprisingly, we receive more tourists during Diwali and Christmas vacations compared to Janmashtami. Specially, people from other states prefer visiting the city during Christmas. Bookings for the coming season have already started,” claimed Shital Bathia, director of Goverdhan Green Resorts.
Zakharia further added that heightened security over the years has also been a deterrent factor. “You see more police then tourists on the roads here. Therefore, to avoid crowds people now prefer to visit the place during mini vacations like Diwali or Holi when there are fewer people,” he said.
However, experts are quick to add that decline in tourist counts do not indicate diminishing piety. “Visiting a temple is worship and the belief stays.
On Janmashtami, Dwarka will see huge crowd but the bulk of it will come from Saurashtra for a day-long visit or from rural areas of Jamnagar. These pilgrims do not stay overnight. But tourists, who want to see and take a tour of Dwarka even otherwise, too are arriving,” Bathia added.