The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Makeover mantra for Van Vihar
- Deluxe rooms, nature study centre to woo tourists

Ranchi, Oct. 17: The once popular Van Vihar hotel in Betla, some 170 km from here, is trying hard to bring back tourists by showing up in a new avatar.

The state tourism department has embarked upon an ambitious project costing Rs 4 crore to renovate the hotel, considered to be a favourite haunt of many national and international visitors who want to study the wildlife.

Way back in the ’60s, this tourist spot shot into fame for being the locale of Satyajit Ray’s film Aranyer Din Ratri. But the deteriorating law and order situation caused many tourists, especially from the US and Europe, to cancel travel plans.

As part of its renovation programme, the 25 rooms of the hotel are getting a fresh coat of paint and ACs.

The hotel management has also introduced Chinese and tandoori fare on their menu, apart from regular Indian food.

“Even the electrification and water facilities are being spruced up so that the tourists do not face problems,” said hotel employee Rajesh Jha, adding that they are taking the help of the local administration to deal with the law and order problems.

“The insecurity troubling tourists earlier has gra- dually disappeared and visitors now freely move around Betla National Park, Ketki Sangam and Koel river,” he pointed out.

Every day, Jha said, they are receiving around 50-60 tourists from Bengal.

“We are charging Rs 100 for a bed in our dormitory. There are 36 beds in the dorm,” said a hotel official.

“We have also fixed a new tariff — Rs 900 for AC, Rs 550 for deluxe rooms and Rs 400 for non-AC rooms — to provide tourists maximum comfort.”

Director of Palamu Tiger Project R.N. Prasad told The Telegraph that Kerb, another tourist complex, is also being furnished and renovated.

“We have also introduced a Nature Interpretation Center in my office in Betla to increase awareness about wildlife. Tourists wanting to know about the varieties of animals existing in the forest can get a detailed report from the centre. Provisions have also been made for a one-touch screen that gives information about birds in these parts. On pressing a button, one can hear the voice of the bird. In Betla, there are more than 125 varieties of migratory birds,” said Prasad.

The tree house in Betla, built last year, had been lying abandoned till recently. “But now visitors are charged Rs 20 to visit the tree house on weekends,” he said. The state forest department is planning to provide international level facility in Betla, the total cost of the project is Rs 4 crore.

Since many foreign tourists come for the wildlife study in Betla the department would start the project work at the earliest, the forest official.

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