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German fairytales beckon

The Pied Piper stealing away Hamelin’s children, the wolf wearing grandma’s nightdress in bed, the blackened stove into which Gretel pushed the evil witch — a tour of German towns associated with some of the loved fairytales beckons Calcuttans.

Deutsche Märchenstrasse — German Fairy Tale Route — is a 600km trail from Hanau to Bremen, via Kassel, that links towns, villages and landscapes associated with the tales of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Brothers Grimm and more.

“It’s one of the three routes extremely popular among tourists. We are trying to popularise the route, along with the other two, castle and romantic trails, in this part of India,” said Romit Theophilus, director, sales and marketing, German National Tourist Office in India.

Last week, the national tourist office held a roadshow in the city where tour operators from Calcutta interacted with representatives of hotels and tourism departments of German towns and states.

German tourism officials said the highlights of the fairytale tour would include concerts, puppet theatre, open-air plays, storytelling sessions and fairytale festivals. At Hamelin, a tour of the town will be headed by a Pied Piper playing the flute, said an official.

Professionals will guide tourists through towns like Hanau, where the Grimm brothers were born in the late 18th century, and through castles and the deep, dark woods — home to bears, wolves and witches.

Visitors will get to experience the Märchenhaus, or Fairy Tale House, built in 1628 in Alsfeld, a town in the centre of Hesse in west-central Germany. It’s home to an impressive collection of life-sized mannequins and models, including that of Rapunzel and Cinderella.

Another stop is Marburg, a town on the hill above the river Lahn, which has a castle where Cinderella lived.

“The fairyland route is a must for the young and not so young to relive their childhood dreams and savour the excitement of actually being there. Ideally, one should drive down the route making stopovers as one fancies,” said Theophilus.

Officials said the 600km trail could be completed in three-four nights and the package would cost Rs 1 lakh per adult, including the car drive.

“Tourists from India prefer to visit one or two places on the route, Kassel, a city of fairytales and art, being the most favourite,” said an official.

Kassel houses the Brothers Grimm Museum with interactive installations on and illustrations of fairytales.

“From Calcutta and other parts of India, there are more business travellers than leisure tourists to Germany. We want to promote the country’s tourist destinations, too,” said an official of the German tourism office.

Till 2006, 95 per cent visitors from India were on business trips. “The trend started changing since then but still 65 per cent visitors are business travellers,” said the official.

Last year, there was a five per cent rise in the number of travellers from India, against an average 15-18 per cent growth since 2008. “This was largely because of the rupee devaluation. We are expecting a 10 per cent growth this year,” said the official.