Palampur-A city neglected by Himachal Tourism department


P A L A M P U R : Despite the fact there is vast tourism potentials in Himachal Pradesh, it is most unfortunate that little has been done in past to exploit the same . Tourism which plays an significant role in the economy of the state, is now facing rough whether, thanks to the apathy of the state government which had not bothered to develop the tourist attraction places of state in a planned manners. Haphazard construction of hotels at Manali, Dhalousie, Shimla and other places in the state has given rise to various problems, like disposal of garbage, contamination of drinking water, pollution and large scale soil-erosion.The frequent traffic jams has become a regular feature here. It is a sad state of affairs that the tourist traffic to these places has come down considerably in past two years. This year there was over fifty percent fall in the tourist traffic to Manali, Mandi, Dharmsala and Dhalousie. Although the state government has time and again announced to come out with a new “Master Plan” for the development of tourism in the state, but all remained confined to the official files and in past ten years most of the tourists place in the state have turned into slum.

Government has been making tall promises to provide better amenities to tourists visiting the state, but in reality nothing has been done. What welcome the tourists in Himachal Pradesh “corrupt traffic police officials”, costly hotels, poor parking facilities and heavy taxes. Besides, bumpy roads with narrow width, poor transport and air service, expensive food and fleecing of tourists by the taxi operators also hurt them. The hotel tariff in Himachal Pradesh is quite heavy as compared to other states.

Besides, the deteriorating law and order situation in religious centers of the state and sudden rise in the cases of rape, theft and murder has adversely affected the pilgrimage tourism particularly in northern parts of the state. In Chintpurni and Kangra alone one dozen cases of murder and rape were reported in past one year. The victims were the tourists from outside the state. In fact the state has no check on such activities causing great inconvience to the tourists here.

Himachal Pradesh has enormous tourism potential. It matches Switzerland in its scenic beauty and climate. The snowcapped peaks of majestic Himalayas ranges are visual treat. The lush green tea gardens, dense forests having pines and deodar trees, river and hills are things of beauty which give joy for ever. From Tabo to Chamba Himachal Pradesh was and is a wonder state rich in natural resources, natural beauty, variety of region weather climate, diversity of culture, people languages, food dress and customs. The state is also known for the historical architectural monuments. Not only this the ancient temples and forts are strewn all over the state. The temple situated in Mandi, Kulu, Manali,Kangra, Chamba and other parts of the state are just one aspects of the state to interest and attract he tourists.

It is most unfortunate that the state government has failed to understand that the significance of tourism in Himachal Pradesh. State has long way to go to catch up with the front ranking states in this field. It is an established fact that the promotion of the tourism in Himachal Pradesh is essential for its faster development, because of the fact that tourism industry can fill the coffers of the state since it is an important revenue earner and also a good source of foreign exchange.

In past ten years much stress was laid on the development of few places like Shimla, Manali, Dhalousie etc as major tourists centers. Today these places are over crowded and on way to becoming slums. Domestic as well as foreign tourists hesitate to visit these places. Many other places like Hat Koti, Bahrmor, Sngala,Massroor, Barot, Renuka, Parashar and Bir are yet to come up on tourist map of the state. State government has failed to involve private sector in this important field. HPTDC a state government undertaking has virtually has failed to deliver goods in the absence of proper planning policies. Increasing political interference in its affairs has made the matter worse.

Merely sprinkling of luxury hotels, that too in most unplanned manner, will not be enough in this endeavor. No doubt the hotels are also needed but there should also be a provision for the entertainment of tourists. The cultural programmes, dance, music and exhibitions of local art culture should also be part of our tourism policy prepared for the development of tourism in the state which can also expose our rich cultural heritage, its variety and grandeur.

The Himachal Pradesh Hotel Owners Association is also not happy with the state government. A local hotel owner and member of the association says that despite repeated requests of the association, no step were initiated to reduce the rates of luxury tax levied on the hotels in the state. Besides, electricity terrify is also being charged on the commercial rates. He says a full fledged Tourism Department has been created by the government, but it has failed to prove to the expectations of the hotel industry of the state. While taking major policy decisions State Hotel Owners Association is never taken into confidence. A policy of pick and choose has been adopted by the department in past five years which has caused huge loss to the tourism industry as well as to the state exchequer.

The Writer Mrs. Neelam Sood is president of a voluntary social organization “ SAVE PALAMPUR”.

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  1. says: NITYIN

    HPTDC a state government undertaking has virtually has failed to deliver goods in the absence of proper planning policies

    I beg to differ here with the writer. HPTDC has no charter to formulate planning policies in the state and is a merely a govt. run company running primarily hotels in the state. It has no say in framing policies and this is done by Deptt. of Tourism bosses who have a Director at it’s helm with couple of Deputy Directors. Working of Tourism Deptt. needs a lot of improvement and the state can look for the model as adopted in Uttranchal, which have created a Tourism Board instead of Tourism Deptt. with participation from private sector. Kerala’s success story started when they roped in the private sector into policy formulation and marketing.

  2. says: Avnish Katoch

    Lack of vision, this is the real issue. Connecting with youths and getting fresh ideas and then implementing is serious area where HP government lacks. Above that old world mentality is another cause. To me it seems HP govt. still lives 30-40 years back. Recently Car and Bike rallies were excellent events which could bring great tourism awareness to Himachal but I don’t think government officials did more than flagging it off. Then whatever happened to Para and Hang gliding in Bir area of Himachal. River boating competition in Kerala is more popular around the globe than some of the best extreme sports possibilities we have in HP. I am told and pardon me as I am away from HP, that HP youths are coming with best possible positive energy, in fact river rafting is another place where no serious consideration is given by government. Suresh Rana who won the car rally is not even awarded anything by state government. Recently I had chance meeting with some of top politicians and bureaucrats and I am so appalled rather so disheartened to say that they lack vision and up above that they lack willingness to explore new ideas. Platforms needed to be built where a strong voice could be raised without any fear and not only pressure government but make them strategies to build Himachal a real power state rather than a labor state which current government has already done!

  3. says: ashok sharma

    Mrs. Neelam Sood-
    I was born in Palampur when my father was posted there around partition time, but have no memories of that time-
    I’ve been living in USA about thirty years now.
    Last time time I visited Palampur briefly for few hours was about 1992 and I’ve few recollections of that- mostly of a typical small town in the hills- those pictures have surely become tainted with nostalgia now.
    I was reading about a convention center in Palampur where an international conference was held recently on Sustainable Development, and beginning to believe that some good things had happened in this town- maybe not.

    I am planning to visit Himachal/Palamur area from about Nov 14- 23, and would like to get first hand experience of this place, and also know more about your – Save Palampur organization.

    If you can provide me with your (or Save Palampur organization ) contact info, phone number/address- that will help-
    ashok sharma

  4. says: Ravinder Makhaik

    @ Ashok Sharma

    Your visiting Palampur, after 15 years is walking down old memory lane.

    It also being your birth place should adds to nostalgia.

    May you have a great time.

    Any help, I can render. please do not hesitate to get in touch.

  5. says: Jaskirat Sandhu

    Hello All, I grew up in Palampur and lived there from 1972 to 1983, in fact very close to the Neugal Cafe in the suburb of Bundla. I saw this picture of Nuegal Cafe in disrepair and feel absolutely disheartened. Mrs Neelam Sood (Save Palampur) is on a good mission. I currently live in Calgary (Canada) and wish to visit Palampur next year. What is the best way to get there from Delhi


  6. says: NITYIN


    The problem here is the govt is so much involved in running every day affairs that it ultimately makes a mess of everything! Anything the govt touches becomes a non starter and a non perfoming asset. Tourism in Himachal has already started getting an onslaught with opening up of Kashmir and in the years to come there is going to be more downward trend in the overall arrivals into the state. If only, some one could make the govt understand that it has to act as a facilitator and shed old habbits of acting as a thanedhar The govt has to rope in private sector into policy formulation. These are the professionals and they know better about tourism. Any bloke after winning an election with only interest to have a jhande wali car can do no good to tourism in state!

    Tourism is not about building hotels alone. You have to have a supporting infrastucture to hold them to the city during their stay. The cleanliness and architecture of the town goes hand in hand with the overall tourism concept. What do we have in Himachal? Entry points of all major towns are dotted with vehicle repair shops and there is a line of cars, buses and trucks getting repaired creating un-neccessary trafic snarls. Walk into the city centre and you have touts offering sightseeing tours and tour packages making it impossible to enjoy your holiday. Add to this the high handedness of the local taxi unions. It seems everyone is hell bent on destroying the tourism. The govt alone cannot control these activities. Let the govt involve all service providers. Once the providers know they are in a position to frame policies there will be lesser chaos.

    Right now it is the govt which acts as a judge, jury and jallad and everyone has to bow before its wishes leaving everyone dis-satisfied and ultimately the tourism in state gets a bad name. Let the state offer opportunities and the service providers become equal stake holders and then see the difference. The buerocracy needs to take a 360 degrees turn here! Will it be possible in my lifetime. I doubt!!

  7. says: Hamir

    Dear Mrs Sood,

    I know this is a late reply as I was not aware of your column, I would like to join the Voice of “SAVE PALAMPUR”. I spent my early child hood in Holta camp and in Palampur, Kindly let me know if there is any local partnership available in developing the area. I will be interested. I will also be interested to put my efforts to bring Palampur on the World Tourism destination stage.

    Thank you

    Hamir Bansal

  8. says: shikha vyas

    I am from palampur and i lived there 18years now i am studying in chandigarh i have done my graduation in airlines,tourism and hospitality management. Basically i am from panchrukhi saliana but every week we used to go to palampur for shopping palampur can be most attractive destination but with little co-operation of people is needed. neugal is one of the most famous attraction over there but when i saw its image i got disappointment. Mrs Neelam Sood taking good steps we are with you we want our palampur at top of the all attractions.
    Thanks & Regards……..

  9. says: Manohar Kaliayanpuri

    Palampur HP is one of the best places ib earth, yet untouched with modern day exploitations. One is so close, yet far from snow (in the lap of majestic Dhauladhars). The climate is rather soothing throught the year. Best is fast way is to reach Kangra Airport at Gaggal from where Palampur is 35 km northeast on national highway # 20 (Pathankot – Kullu highway). By train its best to reach Pathankot/Chakki Bank northern railway station, from where one can travel by toy-triain (narrow gauge) to Palampur – about 120 kms from Pathankot. Daily Delux AC buses ply between Delhi (ISBT) to Palampur via Chandigarh – a distance of 550 kms covered in about 12 hrs overnight journey.

    I recommend to visit Palampur for fun and to enjoy natural beauti.

    Orlando FL 32832

  10. says: ashish kapoor

    just wanna say that himachal govt. should revive their tourism and hotel dept. with good planning nd execution.there r thousands of hoteliers from himachal working outside himachal whom have the vision and working with one of the best companies nd hotels at good positions.but to do that they need a lot of vision nd for which they need those experienced and young people who are working all around india and abroad also with lots of exposure and exp. but to bring them back govt. need a solid planning.

  11. says: ashish kumar

    Palampur is a great hill station with fascinating picturesique view and serene tranquility which attract everyone… the basic things which a tourist dont visualise is proper information of hotels, villas, picnic points, passes and other allied information besides modes of transport and proper guide map. I dont know what HPTDC is doing. The roads ( i would rather appologize being Himachali) that while entering from UNA its worse experience and i am sure tourist would never think of entering Kangra.. Nevertheless The Palampur is a rich town which one must visit and stay with localites and explore the unexplored from their own experience.

  12. says: isha

    Himachal was always overlooked by government be it congress or the other one . Even after more than 60 yrs of independance state and particularly kangra region could not get railways. Reaching the hill town was a difficult job because of the hilly terrain but atleast thanks to the IPL matches held at dharamshala , regular flights are there from delhi airport now.

  13. says: Ravinder Sood

    It is shocking that govts who ruled the state always extended step mothely to palampur development is neglected roads are in bad shape. Narrow bounderies of mc palampurvhas made the matter worse. Govt has playing poltics with residents of panchyats and debarring them from development

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