Finally, the Konark Sun Temple, the UNESCO world heritage site in Odisha has found a place among the Union Government’s list of ‘Iconic Tourism Sites’.
The Centre will develop Konark in Odisha and the Statue of Unity in Gujarat as “iconic tourism sites”, taking the total number of such places to 19, Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel said in Rajya Sabha.
Patel while replying to a supplementary question by Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Rajya Sabha member from Odisha Sasmit Patra confirmed that the list has been expanded and Konark has been included in it. He told the House that he had received a letter from Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the inclusion of Konark Temple in the list.
It may be pointed out here that Patnaik had expressed anguish over the omission of important tourist places of Odisha from the Union Government’s list of 17 Iconic Tourism Sites and had dashed a letter to Union Tourism and Culture Minister Patel in July last year urging to include at least two tourist places of importance in the list.
A similar, request was also made by Union Petroleum & Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan to Patel to include the Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri and Sun Temple in Konark in the Union Government’s list of 17 Iconic Tourism Sites.
The Ministry of Tourism has earlier identified 17 sites in 12 clusters in the country for development as Iconic Tourism Sites namely Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta & Ellora (Maharashtra), Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort & Qutub Minar (Delhi), Colva (Goa), Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath & Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).
The Ministry shall be developing the above sites in collaboration with the Central Ministries, State Governments and Local Bodies, in a holistic manner, with focus on issues concerning connectivity to the destination, better facilities/experience for the tourists at the site, skill development, the involvement of the local community, promotion & branding and by bringing private investment.