Rajasthan taps night tourism

Illuminated Amber Fort already an attraction: The Rajasthan government is planning to promote more tourist spots

Rajasthan taps night tourism

The tourism industry in Rajasthan is all set to get a further fillip with the innovative concept of night tourism. For the first time in the state, old monuments and forts will be opened for visitors after sunset to promote night tourism. The 16th century Amber Fort and the palace complex in Jaipur is the first monument chosen by the Department of Art and Culture to initiate “Amber by Night”.

The tastefully illuminated Amber Fort, built by the erstwhile rulers of Jaipur city, is now opened for tourists every night. The new initiative has become a major attraction not only among tourists but also with locals.

Over 200 people visit every night to enjoy the heritage beauty and legacy of the erstwhile rulers of Jaipur city. “Under the initiative --Amber by Night-- the fort and palace complex is opened for tourists from 7 pm to 10 pm. The entire palace complex comes alive with vibrant lights of different intensity and colours. The concept is new both for foreign tourists and locals, who come here every night in large numbers to get the feel of the royal lifestyle of the erstwhile rulers,” said Pankaj Dharendra, superintendent of the Amber Fort. 

Special lighting arrangements have been made in Diwan-e-Aam, Mansingh Mahal and Sheesh Mahal, which are integral part of the palace. Diwan-e-Aam is a huge hall in the palace complex, used by the erstwhile rulers for holding public meetings while Mansingh Mahal is the oldest part of the palace that took 25 years to build. Mansingh Mahal was completed in 1599 during the reign of Raja Man Singh I while Amber Palace was fully expanded by his descendant, Jai Singh I.

Sheesh Mahal is one of the most beautiful parts of the Amber Palace complex, which is a real treat to the eyes of visitors. It is believed that one of the wives of the king was using it. Thousands of small mirrors are affixed on the walls and roof of the main room of the Sheesh Mahal. Due to reflection from mirrors, even a small earthen lamp can brighten the room, giving an effect as if hundreds of electric bulbs are switched on.

The entire Sheesh Mahal has been decorated with beautiful lights, except the queen’s room. Tourists are shown the excellent architecture of the room and its effect by placing a small earthen lamp in the room, both during the day and night.

“This is my second visit to Jaipur and Amber Fort. The fort looks completely different during the day and at night. It gives an impression as if the erstwhile rulers are still living in the same palace. Besides, panoramic view of the city from the fort is also magnificent. Nothing can be more fascinating than this,” said Firmin and Diodore, a French couple who came to see Amber Fort during night.

Officials said to begin with a few important parts of the palace have been opened for night tourism. The entire palace will be opened for tourists during the second stage of the project. Several cafés and handicraft outlets have come up in Jaleb Chowk, the main courtyard of the palace. Adequate arra­ngements have been made for visitors, particularly for the aged and physically challenged tourists.

According to tourism department officials, around 14 lakh tourists visited Amber Fort last year and the number is likely to increase this year after the launch of night tourism. “The concept of night tourism will certainly promote tourism in the state. After Amber Fort, the department is planning to take up similar exercise at other heritage monuments and palaces in the state,” said an official of the tourism department.

From the next financial year, night tourism will be promoted nationally and internationally by the department. Jaigarh and Narhgarh forts in Jaipur may be taken up for the night tourism. Both forts are located just above Amber Fort on the same range of Aravali Hills to form a strong line of defence for Jaipur city.

Both Jaigarh and Nahargarh forts were built as part of strong defence mechanism and to ensure security of Amber Fort during any outside invasion. Interestingly, there were no invasion attempts. The night tourism has already kindled interest in various sections. Bollywood producers and units have already approached the tourism department to shoot their movies at Amber Fort during the night. As of now, the department has not given its nod for film shooting.

Locals feel that the new initiative of night tourism is an excellent concept, which should be implemented in a grandiose manner. “Despite living in Jaipur for so many years, we have never seen any monument or fort during night. It’s a fantastic concept and the government should take it up in a big manner, especially when they have so many monuments in the city,” said Anand Singh Shekhawat, a resident of Jaipur. “I have been to Amber Fort twice and I felt that more lights should be installed to do justice to the concept of night tourism,” he added.

The state government is mulling over introducing more such innovative concepts to promote Raja­sthan tourism internationally. Going a step ahead, the state government has already cleared the draft of Rajasthan Heritage Conservation Bill 2014. A state heritage council would be constituted under the chairmanship of the chief minister for conservation, regulation and maintenance of heritage structures of historic and archaeological importance. Once the bill is passed in the Assembly, the state government will have the powers to even declare private buildings as heritage property.

“The new government understands that tourism is a major propeller of the economy. Through night tourism, we have just started implementing new projects we have planned. Promoting handicrafts, birding tourism, local fairs and festivals, week-long performances of national-level artistes and musicians are on our agenda for the next year,” said SK Agarwal, Principal Secretary, Tourism. Proactive marketing strategy is being prepared to project Rajasthan as a preferred tourist destination for both foreign and domestic tourists, he added.

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