World Tourism Day: Abodes of Gods, not wildlife of jungles prime tourist attractions in MP

Against 44L visitors to Maihar in first half of 2022, just 6.5L visited 5 national parks

SmitaUpdated: Monday, September 26, 2022, 10:56 PM IST
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Maihar in Satna district, home to the revered temple of Goddess Sharda, has been drawing the highest number of tourists among all places of tourist interest in the state over the past four years. |

Bhopal(Madhya Pradesh): With the arrival of Namibian cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh, and even before that, the government and private tourist agencies have been projecting Madhya Pradesh as a wildlife tourist destination. Now, it is being said that after Tiger State, Leopard State and Gharial State, Madhya Pradesh is the Cheetah State, too.

However, according to Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) data on tourist arrivals in the state, it is places of pilgrimage that are the biggest draw for tourists in the state. The attraction of temple towns for the visitors to the state is evident by the fact that in 2022 (till June), the arrivals in Maihar alone was more than the total number of arrivals in five national parks Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Pench, Panna and Madhai. While 44 lakh persons visited Maihar in this period, the total number of visitors to the five national parks was just 6.57 lakh.

Maihar in Satna district, home to the revered temple of Goddess Sharda, has been drawing the highest number of tourists among all places of tourist interest in the state over the past four years. In 2019, the number of visitors to Maihar was a staggering 92 lakh. In 2020, 21.15 lakh tourists visited Maihar, despite the country being under lockdown for a major part of the year. The next year (2021), the numbers grew to 57.90 lakh. And this year, in the first six months (January – June) alone, 44 lakh tourists have visited Maihar.Salkanpur, a temple town in the Sehore district, is the second most popular destination in the state. It drew 33.25 lakh tourists in 2019, 9.27 lakh in 2020, 13.23 lakh in 2021 and 7.35 lakh so far this year. Next comes Ujjain which drew 3.17 lakh, 9.15 lakh, 13.23 lakh and 5.5 lakh tourists respectively over the past four years.

The total number of tourists visiting eight places of pilgrimage in the state (Maihar, Chitrakoot, Ujjain, Salkanpur, Hoshangabad, Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Bhojpur) in the first six months of 2022 was 89.59 lakh, which formed almost 51% of the total tourist arrivals (1.76 crore) in the state in this period. In 2021, of the 2.48 lakh tourists who visited the state, 1.59 crore (64%) went to these places of pilgrimage. Earlier, in 2019, pilgrims numbering 3.34 crore, formed 37.6% of the total tourists (8.90 crore). Even in 2020, the year when the first wave of Covid-19 hit the country, of the 2.13 crore tourists, 62 lakh (29%) visited sacred towns.

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