Summers in Rajasthan have become more enthralling — courtesy night tourism, which is taking tourist numbers in the lean season to new heights in the desert state. Colourful lights sparkling bright under the dark sky create a unique contrast, enhancing the beauty of spectacular palaces, gardens and museums.
Night tourism allows travellers to visit the major attractions from 6 pm till 10 pm, and was taken to check the dwindling number of tourists during the summers, when the sweltering heat during the day is a deterrent.
Introduced by Rajasthan Tourism, the concept was launched in 2015 and has become a boon for the tourism industry. “A total of 12.2 lakh tourists have visited the monuments illuminated at night and the total revenue earned is Rs 12.2 crore as against the total capital expenditure of Rs 4.27 crore made on installation of lighting fixtures,” said Hridesh Kumar Sharma, director, Archaeology and Museums, Rajasthan.
The project was first implemented in Amber Fort. Albert Hall was thrown open on September 30, 2015, and Vidhyadhar Garden followed on June 5, 2017. “We will be adding more attractions,” said Sharma. “We all agreed that monuments will look beautiful during the night if lighted up. Even the tourists will be excited to find something interesting to do after sundown.”
With a fixed tariff of Rs 100 for domestic and foreign visitors, the response to a lit-up Amber Fort was spectacular. “They (tourists) were all quite excited. We eventually started promoting the concept by starting a few activities. For example, we started organising classical dance on purnima (full-moon nights), which was free of cost. The idea was to generate interest and the response was whopping. Looking at the rising interest in Amber, we took it up in Albert Hall. Today, the exquisite lighting adorning the facade of Albert Hall museum forces passers-by to stop and click a selfie,” said Sharma.
The entire travel fraternity, including tour operators, websites, travel agents and marketing firms, helped promote the concept. Officials and industry experts feel the numbers will increase as people get to know about this unique see-Rajasthan-at-night drive.
Now, night tourism has been introduced in other towns of Rajasthan too. “Be it Pali, Sikar, Bikaner, Bharatpur, Ajmer or Jaisalmer, we did restoration of museums and soon they were open from 12pm to 8 pm” Sharma said, noting that crime was not an issue in Rajasthan.
Asked if night tourism should be introduced in other parts of India, he said: “It can work wonders for the Taj Mahal… Even Red Fort, a few temples in the south, forts in Karnataka, and Golconda Fort (in Hyderabad) can also try it,” he added.