Sunday, November 29, 2009

River cruise boosts Bihar handicrafts sale

A range of vibrant handicrafts to choose from, a tour of heritage hotspots and bird-watching in the sylvan thicket. All this, while
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tourists go sailing down the mighty Ganga.

Western tourists who have been taking the Kolkata-Varanasi river cruise, introduced on September 29 this year, are being feted with these incentives on board.

Till date, products (mainly silk and the famous Manjusha art) worth Rs 80,000 have been sold. Principal secretary, Bihar tourism, Rashmi Verma, said, "The famous Bhagalpuri silk, garments and Manjusha paintings were in great demand. The cruise has definitely boosted the sale of handicrafts and art products of Bihar."

A wide range of silk items, sikki and paintings were exhibited during the seven-day cruise. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation DGM, Navin Kumar, said, "In just one week we sold products worth Rs 30,000. The cruise will be suspended next month in view of Christmas and New Year when foreign tourists would be busy with their festivities. The cruise will resume in January next year."

Encouraged by the spurt in sale, BSTDC is planning to put up more items on sale, including Tikuli art and paintings on paddy husks from January. Kumar said that crafstmen in Madhubani, Jehanabad and Patna have been identified who will supply the paintings.

Apart from ethnic shopping, the tourism department has introduced bird-watching for value addition. "Many foreigners are keen avian watchers. We have put a wildlife expert, Raj Vir Singh, on the cruise. Singh spotted dozens of species of birds on the Buxar-Patna and Simaria Ghat stretch," said Kumar.

About 500 km of the 800 km cruise covers places like Bhagalpur, Munger, Patna and Buxar. Those with a thirst for history and nature can go on a tour of these places. The Yoga Ashram and the ancient Vikramshila University in Munger will beckon many. The Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur would be fun, while ancient Nalanda, Rajgir and Bodh Gaya would be a trip down the lanes of history. BSTDC and Pandaw Cruise are jointly promoting this cruise on the Ganga.

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