The reins of promotion of heritage and tourism in Punjab could not have been in better hands. An avid traveller and passionate art lover himself, the CEO of Punjab Heritage Tourism Promotion Board, Shivdular Singh Dhillon, has an inherent sense of taking tourism ahead. Endowed with a rich legacy and heritage dating back to thousands of years, it is this treasure of history that the State government is promoting to make a mark not just at domestic level but also globally, explores Priya Yadav of Elets News Network (ENN) in an interview with him.
“We are in the process of bringing out an app that will provide complete information regarding all the tourist attractions — distance from Amritsar, route, places to visit, where to stay etc. This will help tourists plan their time and visit in the State.”
What does Punjab have to offer that attracts tourists from all over the globe to the State?
Punjab has a rich history that dates back to thousands of years. As such there are many monuments of the bygone era that speak for themselves. Punjab was an important link between the Central Asian countries and the rest of the country during the Mughal period. From pre-Mughal to Mughal and post- Mughal era, each age has had a prominent impact on art, culture, and architecture in the State. From forts which reflect strength, to temples that bear a testimony to important landmarks in history, to excellent craftsmanship on tombs, mosques, Punjab is as secular as secular can get, something that people are not aware of. The rich heritage of the State has been a secret for a long time for travellers and now all efforts are being made to unveil this secret.
What are the biggest challenges in attracting more tourists to the State?
The number of tourists thronging to the State is not a problem. We are blessed with the biggest tourist attractions -the Golden Temple-which alone sees over one lakh visitors every day. This is the highest in the world. So the challenge we face is not to get more tourists but to retain the tourists we already have in huge numbers. We have to find ways to ensure that the tourists coming to the Golden Temple also visit many other attraction that we have, like the majestic fort of Amritsar that housed the famous diamond Kohinoor. Not just Amritsar, we have marvels of architecture all over the State and we need to ensure that the tourists also visit these places along with the Golden Temple.
“We have to find ways so that the tourists coming to Golden Temple also visit many other attractions that we have like the majestic fort of Amritsar that housed the famous Kohinoor diamond.”
What measures are being taken to ensure that tourists visit other places also?
There are a number of steps we have taken in that direction. Our attempt is to increase awareness about the beauty and splendour of other monuments of heritage value that are spread across the State. Also, we are tying up with private taxi services so that they too can share information with tourists when they are visiting Amritsar. We are also in the process of bringing out an app that will provide complete information regarding all the tourist attractions — distance from Amritsar, route, places to visit and stay etc. This will help tourists plan and and visit to the State.
Punjab has so many cultures and traditions of its own, what steps are being taken to showcase the many cultures and traditions of Punjab?
We are not just preserving these old monuments by using the latest techniques and retain their splendour but also adding to the architectural splendour by constructing buildings like Virasat-e-Khalsa -a museum of Sikhism, located in the holy town of Anandpur Sahib. The museum celebrates 500 years of the Sikh history and the 300th anniversary of the birth of Khalsa based on the scriptures written by the 10th and last guru, Guru Gobind Singh. It is a unique museum that celebrates the traditions and cultures of the State. A similar attempt is being made across the State, where old buildings are being converted into museums and artefacts saved for the future generations to see and cherish the past.