How about a lighthouse for a weekend getaway? The government plans to promote 182 of the lighthouses which dot India’s 7,500-km-long coastline as novel tourist spots.
It has already appointed consultants to study the feasibility of the proposal.
Some lighthouses around Mumbai — at Kanhoji Angre and at Sunk Rock — and in Tamil Nadu — at Marina Beach and at Mahabalipuram – will be revamped as part of a pilot project.
The plan is the brainchild of junior shipping minister Milind Deora.
Development of lighthouses into tourism hubs can generate some revenue, he said last week.
Some lighthouses are already open to tourists. Entry tickets there cost Rs10 each. But, they are not positioned as tourist attractions yet. “Some of them are at lesser-explored locations, which are now completely inaccessible to tourists. We want to develop such locations,” said a shipping ministry official.
The island of Kanhoji Angre, about 30 minutes from Alibaug near Mumbai, is one such spot. “Development of infrastructure will be one of the key challenges, if it’s opened to tourists,” said the official. The Kanhoji Angre lighthouse was under the Mumbai Port Trust until it was taken over by the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships in 2007. The island is considered an important landmark at the entrance of the Mumbai harbour.
Despite modern radar technology, lighthouses remain a trusted help for small boats and fishermen. “Only big shippers can afford to install radars,” said the official.
Asked about the project rationale, he said, “Not too many people know about the importance of a lighthouse. The project will not only popularise some of the unknown places, it’ll also help in educating people about the importance of lighthouses.”
That is not all. Deora said, “We need to start some commercial and trade activity along our coastline; not just in Mumbai, but all over the country. Globally, lighthouses are important tourist destinations and India shall not be left behind.”
Details on investment were not immediately available. But, according to an official, the government will look at the public-private partnership model for project funding.