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NEW DELHI : On the large hilltop of Bangira lies a fort that served as a stronghold of the Chandela Kings in Balwant Nagar between the 11th and 17th centuries. To many of us, it is better known to us as the Jhansi Fort, synonymous with Rani Lakshmi Bai, the queen who single handedly fought off British troops during the freedom struggle. Very soon, you may be able to stay in a part of this sprawling 17 acre fort.

If all goes according to plan, this fort and 30 others in Uttar Pradesh, which have been made available for ‘adaptive reuse’ by the state’s tourism board, can be restored and developed into swank hotels. The tourism board has engaged CEPT University in Ahmedabad and private consultants to help evaluate the locations and facilitate investment. It will prepare a conceptual plan, carry out situational analysis, identify key tourism development initiatives, prepare a capital investment plan, and an institutional framework for implementation.

The other forts include Talbehat fort in Lalitpur, the Baruasagar fort in Jhansi, Chattar Manzil in Lucknow, and Chunar fort in Mirzapur. This will be a bid replicate the Rajasthan tourism model, where the old forts have been turned into hotels. A majority of the forts, such as the famous fort of Jhansi, are owned by the Archaeological Survey of India.

“In Uttar Pradesh, we have a lot of potential from the perspective of religious, spiritual, and heritage sites. There are several buildings that are either abandoned or in bad shape and we have put them up for adaptive reuse to conserve them. We would like to start to give these to private investors on lease and under public-private partnerships," said Mukesh Kumar Meshram, director general, tourism and culture, Uttar Pradesh.

This will help the state as, in some cases, the state’s archaeological department does not have sufficient manpower to look after these buildings that need repair, maintenance, and upkeep.

“We want to make use of these so that we can save and conserve them. We have interest from players and will soon start a formal procedure to lease them out in the PPP mode. We want to capture the burgeoning domestic tourist market," Meshram said.

“It has a finite number of forts and palaces and eventually travellers will want to explore other destinations. We now also have the Purvanchal and Bundelkhand Expressways that will help with last mile connectivity," he said.

The overall tourism development roadmap has a budget of Rs63 crore, which will include signages, laser shows, and last mile connectivity for Chitrakoot, Banda and Mahoba, which fall in the Bundelkhand region.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Varuni Khosla

Varuni Khosla is a journalist with close to 14 years of experience in writing business news stories for mainstream newspaper companies like Mint and The Economic Times. She reports and writes on luxury and lifestyle brands, hospitality and tourism news, the business of sports, the business of advertising and marketing and alcohol brands.
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