Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan
11. Livelihoods Linked to Tourism
Particularly after the creation of Uttaranchal, Bundelkhand is frequently seen as the main tourism centre for Uttar Pradesh. Apart from the most famous pilgrimage of Chitrakut, Bundelkhand has the famous Jain temples of Lalitpur and the equally famous forts of Jhansi, Kalinjar and Mahoba. Utilitarian and beautification aims can be combined in the rejuvenation of several water sources such as Ganesh Bavli and Ramnagar Ka Talab and the huge neglected tanks of Mahoba. Kalinjar is seen mainly as a fort but its water conservation system is also worth leaning from. Chitrakut is seen mainly as a pilgrimage centre but in addition to its well-known pilgrimage spots like Parikrama and Gupt Godavri it has many neglected beautiful spots including great waterfalls such as Shabri Prapat, Bedhak and Rashiyan which can become beautiful tourism centres. Beautification of Mandakini river bank and confluence places of rivers (such as the confluence of Yamuna and Betwa rivers in Hamirpur district) can also be very productive. Close cooperation with Madhya Pradesh can result in some attractive tourism circuits such as by linking some of the above mentioned attractions with the famous Khajuraho temples of Chhattarpur. Development of Chitrakut also involves close cooperation of these two state governments. A tourism circuit can also be created around the events of 1857 particularly the brave exploits of the legendary Jhansi Ki Rani.
The key issue here is to link livelihoods of local people, particularly the poor, with the traditional fairs and festivals, as well as the emerging new tourism circuits. The Amavasya fairs in Chitrakut can attract people to the extent of 3 lakh to 3 million. Poor communities can be encouraged to market crafts (particularly stone-work of mythological significance) as well as products based on minor forest produce and processing of farm produce. Big traders tend to get the main benefits of such opportunities but there is no reason why groups of rural poor should not benefit from such opportunities. Some villages near tourism circuits can be equipped better to benefit from tourism.