Tuesday, 14 February 2012

SITES AND WONDERS

Cultural heritage tourism is a branch of tourism oriented towards the cultural heritage of the location where tourism is occurring. The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States defines heritage tourism as “travelling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past," and cultural heritage tourism is defined as “travelling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present."
Culture has always been a major object of travel, as the development of the Grand Tour from the 16th century onwards attests. In the 20th century, some people have claimed, culture ceased to be the objective of tourism: tourism is now culture. Cultural attractions play an important role in tourism at all levels, from the global highlights of world culture to attractions that underpin local identities. According to the Weiler and Hall, culture, heritage and the arts have long contributed to appeal of tourist destination. However, in recent years ‘culture’ has been rediscovered as an important marketing tool to attract those travellers with special interests in heritage and arts. According to the Hollinshead, cultural heritage tourism defines as cultural heritage tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry because there is a trend toward an increase specialization among tourists. This trend is evident in the rise in the volume of tourists who seek adventure, culture, history, archaeology and interaction with local people.
Cultural heritage tourism is important for various reasons; it has a positive economic and social impact, it establishes and reinforces identity, it helps preserve the cultural heritage, with culture as an instrument it facilitates harmony and understanding among people, it supports culture and helps renew tourism. Putangina Cultural heritage tourism has a number of objectives that must be met within the context of sustainable development such as; the conservation of cultural resources, accurate interpretation of resources, authentic visitors experience, and the stimulation of the earned revenues of cultural resources. We can see, therefore, that cultural heritage tourism is not only concerned with identification, management and protection of the heritage values but it must also be involved in understanding the impact of tourism on communities and regions, achieving economic and social benefits, providing financial resources for protection, as well as marketing and promotion. 
Heritage tourism involves visiting historical or industrial sites that may include old canals, railways, battlegrounds, etc. The overall purpose is to gain an appreciation of the past. It also refers to the marketing of a location to members of a diaspora who have distant family roots there.
Decolonization and immigration form the major background of much contemporary heritage tourism. Falling travel costs have also made heritage tourism possible for more people.
Another possible form involves religious travel or pilgrimages. Many Catholics from around the world come to the Vatican and other sites such as Lourdes or Fátima. Large numbers of Jews have both visited Israel and emigrated there. Many have also gone to Holocaust sites and memorials. Islam commands its followers to take the hajj to Mecca, thus differentiating it somewhat from tourism in the usual sense, though the trip can also be a culturally important event for the pilgrim.
Heritage Tourism can also be attributed to historical events that have been dramatised to make them more entertaining. For example a historical tour of a town or city using a theme such as ghosts or Vikings. Heritage tourism focuses on certain historical events, rather than presenting a balanced view of that historical period. It's aim may not always be the presentation of accurate historical facts, as opposed to economically developing the site and surrounding area. As a result heritage tourism can be seen as a blend of education, entertainment, preservation and profit.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 states parties which are elected by their General Assembly.
The program catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. Under certain conditions, listed sites can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. The programme was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on November 16, 1972. Since then, 186 states party have ratified the convention.
As of 2011, 936 sites are listed: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 States Parties. Italy is home to the greatest number of World Heritage Sites to date with 47 sites inscribed on the list. UNESCO references each World Heritage Site with an identification number; but new inscriptions often include previous sites now listed as part of larger descriptions. As a result, the identification numbers exceed 1200 even though there are fewer on the list.
While each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located, UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
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India is the birthplace of Buddhism. Before it spread to all over the world, Buddhism was a flourishing religion in India. The dominance of Buddhism lasted for 1700 years during the 5th century BC and 12th century AD. After the Turkish invasions starting from the 12th century AD, the religion experienced a steady decline. Buddhism is still practiced by a minority in India, but it is the main religion in many of the South Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea and Thailand.

Lumbini , Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar are the four most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites of the world.

Bodhgaya:
Buddhism started in Bodhgaya in India, where prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became known as Lord Buddha. He was born in Lumbini, in present day Nepal. Bodhgaya is the location of the famous Bodhi tree which is believed to have originated from a sapling of the tree under which the Lord sat meditating, before attaining enlightenment. The Mahabodhi temple is the other major attraction in Bodhgaya which is located in the eastern state of Bihar in India. Many Buddhist tours offer attractive tour packages to Bodhgaya and the other important Buddhist sites in India.

Sarnath:
The deer park in Sarnath is sill preserved along with the ruins of the monasteries and stupas that bear testimony to the flourishing state that Buddhism had reached in India. This is the park where Buddha is said to have delivered his first teachings about Dharma, and other basic concepts of Buddhism. Sarnath is also the location of many other interesting structures like the Dhamek stupa and the remnants of the Ashokan pillar which was originally surmounted by the lion capital, which is now the national emblem of India. Sarnath is located in Uttar Pradesh in India, very near to the famous Hindu pilgrimage city of Varanasi.

Kushinagar:
Kushinagar is the fourth important Buddhist site in the world, and the third in India. This is the site of the Lord’s death, or Parinirvana. The cremation site of Lord Buddha can still be seen. Ruins of many stupas and viharas, dating back to the heydays of Buddhism can also be seen here.

There are other places in India which are important for the history of Buddhism. These include Dharamshala, Sanchi, Ajanta and Ellora caves, and the Kanheri caves in Maharashtra. These places are home to most of the major Buddhist monuments in India. All the major Buddhist tours cover these and some other minor sites related to Buddhism in India.

Touristplacesinindia.com offers all inclusive information about Buddhism in India and other information on tourist places in India.

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