Travel Professor – Heritage Tourism


One thing that drives tourists to go
from place to place is colonial links. I’m here in Pondicherry. It’s a
former French colonial port in the south east of India and we still
have the French consulate and a French presence so there’s lots of French
architecture here. French influence. The kids, I believe, learning French in school
in this area. Now one interesting thing is when a place is colonized is the heritage that
they leave behind. So they left behind some intangible heritage about the…about
the language and maybe the cuisine but they also leave behind tangible heritage
that can be seen in architecture. It relates to heritage tourism. Heritage
tourism is the driver of tourism nowadays but it’s
the local community often has to decide what do they show and what don’t they show. So
when India became independent, do they still tear down the French architecture and build more Indian style or do they keep the French architecture
and be proud of it? Is that something to be proud of or is it embarrassment or not such a positive thing that this area was colonized by
another country. So it’s a decision for tourism policymakers.
What do they show to tourists? What do they keep? How to residents portray their
culture? And these issues are all related to heritage tourism. Other issues relate to
authenticity. What’s the authentic experience? If I come to India and I see
lots of French architecture and French culture, do I really feel … am I getting
the proper Indian experience. Again this is up to the individual but lots of different issues related to
heritage so I’m enjoying looking around Pondicherry for this reason. Down at
Pondicherry beach front, we also see more French-style architecture. Panning
around is even a statue of one of the early French Colonists.
Speaking of heritage tourism, I’m here just south of Chennai and behind me is
the five rathas. This was constructed out of stone, as you can see and it was around
the Pallava a period in about the 1600s so very old, very cool. I’m gonna have a
climb around. Did I say the 1600s, I meant the 600s. That’s how old it is. In 1984 it was awarded UNESCO World
Heritage Site. Each of these five monuments represents chariot. Right, a bit further along from the five Rathas is this one. We’ve got a big panel there
showing the moon god, the sun god, Shiva, Vishnu, elephants, lots of animals. One
thing about the heritage tourism is if it’s a monolith, something like this, one
stone, everything’s carved out of one stone so that what’s makes it incredible but the stone also is much more sturdy and people
can walk on it, climb on it and there’s much less need for preservation and
conservation for these heritage sites. You might wonder back in the hundreds of
years ago, before dynamite, before explosives, before tools, how do they even
carve some of this? Well, I found out just recently. They make holes in the rock and
then in the holes they put the wood and then with the wood they’re pouring the
water and then that wood will expand to make it weak and then they can use the
elephants to tear it apart. So you can see on this one, here, where this process has taken place. Very ingenious.
Even though they’re made of stone, being 1,300 years old, of course, there’s
gonna be some wear and tear especially as we’re close to the sea. The salt water
eroding some of this, the Shore Temple. This is also an issue for tourism and
historians policymakers on how best to preserve these heritage attractions. Also
on the Heritage Trail, I visit Dakshina Chitra which is a living history museum
in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu which is dedicated to South Indian heritage
and culture. The museum showcased people from four
different areas: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Apart
from the dancing, you could see this weaver do his stuff on the loom. There
was a chance to make some pottery and you could also get your arm painted with
some henna. There was a restaurant that served South Indian ethnic cuisine. So
that ends my look at heritage tourism in and around South East India. Don’t forget
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