Dark tourism or haunted place tourism is increasingly becoming popular among adventure seekers.
India, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, is a multicultural melting pot. The nation is one of the most well-liked tourist destinations on the globe thanks to its extensive attractions and rich heritage. India is home to the world’s largest tiger reserve, tranquil ghats, stunning landscapes, and the best architectural history. In a country like this, India serves as one of the reasons to travel all around the country. We can divide Indian tourism into numerous categories. We have terms like “Dark Tourism” in the middle of these categories like “Adventure Tourism,” “Beach Tourism,” “Cultural Tourism,” and others.
Travelling to locations that have traditionally been connected to tragedy or death is known as dark tourism, black tourism, or grief tourism. It is well-liked by those with interest in history who wish to delve into the dark, unwritten tales that are buried in the past. Dark tourism is a contentious topic; although some see it as an act of respect, others see it as unethical. It represents a different aspect of life that looks like anguish and suffering. They are known as “dark tourism” because much of history has been unpleasant for many. Dark tourism is becoming more popular among tourists. Well, “Dark tourism” also comes with its various categories such as “Ghost Tourism”, “Holocaust Tourism” etc.
Why is “Dark Tourism” really popular among travellers?
The characteristics of a typical traveller are apparent, a perceptive mind, a “wandering” eye, a taste for the undiscovered, and (to varying degrees) an adventurous spirit. However, it seems as though most people end up having predictable experiences. Geographical shifts and significant financial disparities could give the impression that the holidays are significantly different. But practically all of us abandon our daily routines in favour of clearer skies, healthier air, peaceful stillness, and the chance to feel insignificant in the presence of nature.
However, discoveries and adventures can appear in the most unexpected locations. It’s difficult to pinpoint the specific reasons why people visit India’s dark tourism destinations. Travellers are drawn to unique, strange, and peculiar places, which makes dark tourism sites in India popular. Many just see it as an opportunity to lose themselves emotionally in a horrible situation. People need to learn about and immerse themselves in earlier history and culture. By travelling to dark tourist locations, we could give ourselves time to contemplate history.
Destinations for dark tourism draw travellers from a range of backgrounds. Examples of reasons include having educational objectives, wanting to understand more about the past, and so forth. Others are inspired to do new or unconventional things.
The Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world, is debatably one of India’s major tourist destinations. Many studies contend that the terrible treatment of the construction workers after the Taj Mahal was completed steers the historical value of the structure toward unethical tourism. Sometimes tragedies leave more than just a sour memory behind. Stones, walls, and memorials serve as physical reminders of the misery and afflictions they have caused. These hardships frequently have a significant impact on how a nation’s culture, government, and even tourism have historically developed.
How “Dark Tourism” is helping the economy?
India’s economy is primarily reliant on the swiftly growing tourism industry. Throughout the process, the Ministry works together and talks with other federal departments and agencies, state and union territory governments, and business representatives. The ministry of tourism continues to oversee the Incredible India programme, which encourages travel to India. Travel and tourism are one of the largest areas that contribute to GDP growth.
Few “Dark Tourism” sites in India:
- Rajasthani fort Bhangarh: This fort, which is situated in Rajasthan’s Alwar district, was constructed in 1573 for Madho Singh, Raja Bhagwant Singh’s younger son. It’s common knowledge that a Tantrik priest who had fallen in love with the royal daughter but had no hope of winning her heart cursed the fort. He attempted to cast a spell on the princess, and when it failed, he cursed her, her family, and even the whole community. The family’s passing is thought to have caused the souls of those who are still wandering there.
- Jallianwala Bagh: The most depressing and enduring incident in Indian history took occurred at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar. Thousands of defenceless, innocent individuals were mercilessly murdered by the British Army on April 13, 1919. Visitors come to this location to observe the bullet holes that were caused on that day and can still be seen today. These serve as a reminder of the horrifying incident that day.
- The Royal Calcutta Turf Club: The Race Course, as it is currently known, is considered to be an extremely haunted site, with incidents centred around “Willam Saheb ka Sada Ghora.” It is reported that a white horse named Pride, owned by an Englishman named George Williams, died on these tracks. Williams was infatuated with racing and his horse, Pride, but Pride eventually got old and weak. He lost a derby one year and was discovered dead on the tracks the next day. Pride is claimed to still be spotted dashing across the tracks on moonlit Saturday nights. Many commuters passing by the Race Course have frequently reported seeing a white horse running, and the unexpected sight is likely to startle anyone.
- Gujarat’s Dumas Beach: This beach, located along the Arabian Sea, is frequently referred to as “the devil’s paradise.” According to legend, this beach was previously utilised as a cremation site, which accounts for the black sand that was left behind as ashes. The nighttime on this beach has seen a lot of ghostly activity. Locals in the area claim that numerous more unsettling voices have been heard. This location is frequently listed as one of the eeriest places in the nation.
- Andaman & Nicobar Islands’ Cellular Jail: The British constructed this prison, which is more often known as “Kala Pani,” in the early 20th century. This prison housed about 80,000 inmates who were regarded as imperial enemies. They used to endure cruel treatment, including beatings and penalties. On the convicts, several medical studies were also conducted. Others were fed through their nostrils, which resulted in dangerous infections and ultimately led to their deaths. The material makes it quite evident that there were no windows in the cells where prisoners were housed, cruelly isolating them even further. Cellular Jail’s walls bear witness to those sufferings. Today, this complex functions as a national memorial.
- Goa’s Three Kings Church: The Velsao is 15 kilometres away from this eerie church in Goa. People from the neighbourhood who were out for an evening stroll near the cathedral have talked about the weird events. The three kings’ avarice is the foundation of the haunted story. They allegedly killed one another in an effort to take control of that property, and today their ghosts are claimed to roam the church grounds.
- Lake Skeleton, Uttarakhand: The glacial lake, Roopkund Lake, is located at a height of 5,029 metres. This lake allegedly contains the remains of deceased people. This lake is often frozen throughout the year, but whenever the ice breaks, human remains such as hair, skin, clothing, and jewellery are found everywhere around the lake. This lake is also known as “Mystery Lake” because of its paranormal characteristics.
- Mines at Lambi Dehar in Mussoorie: Despite being one of India’s most stunning hill towns, Mussoorie is also home to a terrifying location known as The Mine of Death. Around 50,000 employees perished horribly in 1990 as a result of their improper mining methods. Since then, the surrounding region and the homes of the former neighbouring employees’ workers have been overrun by trees and shrubbery, giving the eerie mines a natural feel. The locals have related tales of nighttime human bawling and other eerie happenings. Numerous automobile accidents and a helicopter crash have also taken place close to the mines, adding to the area’s sense of doom.
- Gas Disaster in Bhopal: On December 3, 1984, an industrial tragedy called the Bhopal Gas Tragedy took place. An affiliate factory of Union Carbide is where the tragedy happened. The facility emitted 42 tonnes of dangerous methyl isocyanides (MIC), which eventually got into the lungs of thousands of people. Many people passed away suddenly. The problems caused by toxins are still prevalent in Bhopal. The Remember Bhopal Museum has been preserved as a memorial, preserving the objects and records of the afflicted populations.
What are “Dark Tourism’s” effects?
Visitors experience a range of negative emotions when seeing sites connected to tragedy or death, including horror, fear, sorrow, sadness, and retribution. Visitors’ perspectives can change depending on why they are there. Some visitors may acquire insights into the site’s history and current events, while others may view it as a unique sort of tourism that gave them some knowledge they could share with their friends.
Few factors preventing the popularity of “Dark Tourism” in India:
- Human psychology’s tendency to avoid pain and death is blamed for this lack of interest in visiting such sites. Additionally, the absence of infrastructural development at such locations also restricts the flow of tourists there.
- Lack of infrastructure may also be a result of low demand; as a result, if demand rises, infrastructure may be simply built and maintained.
- Lack of promotion is the main issue that Dark Tourism is facing. Travel companies and operators are unable to offer the Dark Tourists adequate services due to a lack of promotion.
- The lack of connectivity makes the dark sites inaccessible to travellers.
- The growth of Dark Tourism is also hampered by India’s perception as a cultural and regional nation. The residents’ support is insufficient for the government of tourism to encourage dark tourism and raise dark tourists’ levels of satisfaction.
- One of the main challenges Dark Tourism faces is a lack of funding for the industry’s expansion.
It can be said that India has successfully developed Dark destinations. India, therefore, has the potential for Dark Tourism, given that tourists from all over the world travel there to explore these sites. Additionally, in order to attract more Dark Tourists, the government should make the required arrangements near these sites so that visitors can learn about the many urban legends that are pervasive in all of these locations. To let people know that there are so many Dark places in the nation, these sites also need to be promoted.
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(Purbasha Palit is a student of Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University.)
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