Patna, Sept. 1: Egged on by the sharp rise in the number of foreign tourists visiting Bihar in 2008-09, the government has began work on a village to be made primarily of bamboo.
The village will be completed before national and international visitors start arriving for the fortnight-long pitripaksh festival. The puja draws scores of Hindus from Mauritius, Fiji and Trininad, besides England and the US every year.
Pitripaksh, a Hindu ritual similar to ancestral worship, is slated to start from September 5 and will last till September 18.
The state tourism department has been engaged to construct 20 state-of-the-art spacious huts made of bamboo at Bodh Gaya.
Each hut will have four to five rooms with attached lavatories, besides electricity and drinking water supply, said tourism minister Ram Pravesh Rai.
Gaya district magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh said the administration was expecting at least 10-lakh tourists to converge at Gaya and offering pind (food to appease their ancestors) on the banks of the Falgu that passes through the city.
Legend has it that Sita had offered pind to her father-in-law, Dasrath, on the banks of Falgu when she learnt about his death in course of her exile with Ram and Laxman. Thus, she set in motion the practice in Gaya.
The administration has also decided to make elaborate security arrangements for visitors, including information centres at various points in the south Bihar city, said the district magistrate.
Special sheds are being constructed near Sita Kund where the visitors gather to offer their prayers, said Sanjay Kumar Singh.
Meanwhile, the flow of foreign tourists registered a sharp rise in 2008-09 in Bihar and the state also witnessed an increase of 18 per cent in the number of foreign visitors in the same time against around 63,000 visitors from abroad in 2005-06.
The number (of foreign tourists) rose from 63,321 in 2005-06 to 3,56,446 in 2008-09, Ram Pravesh Rai confirmed. More than 1.14-lakh foreigners have already visited the state till the end of April in the current fiscal, he added. Moreover, the number of domestic tourists touched an all-time high of 1.21 crore in 2008-09 from the 86.87 lakhs in 2005-06.
The government is quick to point out that the steady rise in tourist footfall is an indicator of a safer Bihar.
Rai attributed the current growth in the number of foreign and domestic tourists to governments efforts to create a safer atmosphere and better facilities for visitors.
Visitors can feel safe in this state with Nitish Kumar at its helm and thats why they are visiting Bihar in hordes, Rai said.