A 15th-century fort here in Maharashtra, despite being in a good condition with its walls and arches intact, is unable to attract tourists due to lack of a proper approach road to the place.
The Antur Fort, constructed during the Nizamshahi dynasty and currently protected by the state archaeology department, is surrounded by forest on all sides and is located on a hill 104 km away from the Aurangabad city.
Tourists go to the Gautala Wildlife Sanctuary located about 30 km from Antur, but do not visit the fort as there is no proper approach road, state forts conservation committee's former member Sanket Kulkarni told PTI.
"There is no tar road to reach the fort. A nearly 6.5 km path, which mostly passes through the nearby forest, can be developed as an all-weather road to reach the fort," he said.
Kulkarni also said there is no industry in the area and if tourists start coming to the fort, it could boost the economy of nearby villages.
"The fort is in dire need of a road which will also help the forest and archaeology department officials to reach the area faster," he added.
Swapnil Joshi, the member of the local Amazing Aurangabad group working for the welfare of monuments, said apart from constructing a proper approach road, there is also a need to publicise the Antur Fort.
"We always talk about Ajanta and Ellora caves in Aurangabad, but the Antur Fort also has the potential to attract tourists as it is in a good condition and its huge walls and arches are intact," he said.
Yogesh Joshi, a resident of Nagapur, which is a market place for villages near the Antur Fort, said proper road connectivity to the monument will also help villagers in getting employment.
"There is no industry in our area. If an all-weather road is constructed on the existing path, it will surely help the youth get employment, as they can start serving tourists (as guides and providing transport facilities) by following norms of the forest department," he said.
Aurangabad's Chief Conservator of Forests Prakash Mahajan said those who need a road in the area must approach the forest department with a proposal.
"Certain permissions are required to be taken from the central government if we need to conduct any non-forest activity in forest areas," he said.
State archaeology department's assistant director Ajit Khandare said they have received Rs 55 lakh from the forest department to develop roads close to the fort and a parking space near the monument.
"We are doing a follow-up of this work. The other things are not under my jurisdiction, hence I cannot comment on it," he said.