HYDERABAD: It would seem the tourism department and the Hyderabad corporation’s style of promoting the city’s most famous landmark this World Heritage Week includes just a dash of bright coloured flags and self advertisement banners, rather than improving facilities for tourists to the monument as promised. For any visitor to the Charminar on Wednesday, the sight of brown, green and white flags bearing symbols of the APTDC and GHMC would have greeted them.
Erected around the circumference of the Charminar as part of Heritage week celebrations serve, as not just being an eye sore against the historic landmark, but also as a turn off for tourists wanting to capture wide angle visuals of the monument.
“Its surprising to see so many flags around a heritage site, that too one which is not huge or spread out in terms of size and area. The tourism department should have thought of something more innovative to promote the monument especially during the World Heritage Week. The flags block a clear view of the monument from outside”, observed Rohit Kiran, a tourist from Bengaluru and a freelance photographer.
A senior official with the Archaeological Survey of India who was inspecting the cleaning works at Charminar admitted that the flags were not a pretty sight, but added that the corporation had promised to remove them by the end of this week itself. “We got the order and had to give the permission to erect the flags. There was nothing we could do, even though the flags do not make for good viewing material.” He further mentioned that no programmes as such had been planned to promote Charminar, unlike the various cultural programmes being held over the week at Salar Jung Museum and a few other heritage landmarks. “The only consolation was that we allowed free entry yesterday to all tourists”, he said. And further mocking the World Heritage Week celebrations is the sight of a forgotten fountain on the approach road leading to the Charminar. One of the oldest fountains to be constructed in Hyderabad, the effects of repeated neglect is to be seen all over it.
Khan, a kebab stall owner near the same said that despite numerous media reports and citizen complaints, the fountain continued to be ignored. “Even more frustrating is the fact that not a single development work promised under the Charminar Pedestrian Project is being implemented. Only if facilities are improved further, can we expect more tourists to arrive here,” he added dejectedly.
Interestingly, the Charminar Pedestrian project is an ambitious heritage tourism project promoted by the Department of Tourism and the GHMC. The project has been in limbo for quite some time now, and despite the Mayor as well as other officials promising quick action on the same recently, no action has been taken so far. Meaning for now, the bright flags and self-promotion are to be the perfect smokescreen against long standing proposals.