New Year tourists avoid Chhattisgarh’s Maoist zone

December 30th, 2008 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, Dec 30 (IANS) Rising violence in Chhattisgarh’s southern picturesque and hilly terrain of Bastar has led to tourists avoiding the Maoist zone during the New Year holidays, officials said Tuesday.”This year the visitors graph to celebrate New Year in Bastar was expected to pick up as state-based tourists are not going to Mumbai due to Nov 26 terror attacks,” an official at the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board told IANS.

“But surprisingly, the visitor-flow to the picturesque Bastar region has dropped in comparison to recent years with only about 500 people heading to the region for New Year. Last year, the figure was around 1,800,” the officials said.

Bastar region, spread out over an area of about 40,000 sq km, is home to rare wildlife, and boasts of exquisitely carved temples, waterfalls, rock paintings and hill plateaus.

In Chitrakote, Indravati river has an abrupt fall of 96 feet, and looks like a horseshoe curve. Bastar has several caves such as Kailash and Kutumsar caves that are said to be 3,000 to 3,300 million years old.

But since 2004, the region has witnessed several deadly attacks by Maoist insurgents that have killed over 1,100 people, included 726 civilians.

Chhattisgarh Tourism Board officials, however, say that bookings for other areas in the state, mostly forest locations of Raipur, Mahasamund, Bilaspur and Surguja districts, have risen sharply during the New Year season, by over 150 percent compared to last year.

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