Dark Tourism : Bizarre Form of Travel
What is Dark Tourism?
In this form of Tourism, people travel to sites related to death and tragedy. Usually Dark locations are those which remind the tourists of human sufferings or bloodshed. Though it sounds quite uncanny to people all around the world, but in a country like India which has such a vast history, it is quite popular. According to the perspective of few, it is undertaken to learn about the history while for others, it is associated with curiosity to know the anecdotes prevalent about that particular site. This Tourism is also referred to as “Grief Tourism” or “Black Tourism”.
What are the effects of Dark Tourism?
After visiting the sites associated with death or tragedy, the visitors undergo a negative spectrum of feelings like horror, fear, depression, sadness, vengeance, etc. the outlook of visitors may vary depending on the purpose of their visits. Some may gain insights into the history and happenings of the site while others may consider it as a different form of Tourism, which provided them with a chunk of information that they may share in their circle.
What are the reasons behind Dark Tourism?
Every traveller has a different motivation to undertake the trip but in case of Dark Tourism, these motivations are quite peculiar yet interesting. Some tourists visit Dark sites to remember a tragedy and its effects. Dark Tourism can be undertaken due to the interest in the human psyche. Nostalgia can also be the driving force of Dark Tourism as soldiers who were involved in a certain war find it difficult to survive in the peaceful environment. Therefore, they are unable to derive pleasure from pain and differentiate right from wrong. For some people, Dark Tourism makes the imagination tangible as they are able to see the havoc wreaked by humans. Those who are interested in capturing different sites, are also attracted to Dark locations. Some people also like the idea of Dark Tourism as they have a desire to pay respects to the dead ones. In the quest of widening the sphere of their knowledge, people travel to the places associated with suffering and disaster. For a few, heritage serves as the motivation to visit the sites associated with Dark Tourism.
What are the challenges of Dark Tourism?
The foremost challenge faced by the Dark Tourism is the lack of promotion. Due to the lack of promotion, travel agencies and operators are not able to provide proper services to the Dark Tourists. The Dark destinations are inaccessible to the tourists due to the less connectivity. India’s image as a cultural and regional country also hinders the development of Dark Tourism. The Government of Tourism does not get enough support from the locals’ side to boost the Dark Tourism and enhance the satisfaction level of Dark Tourists. Scarcity of funds for the expansion of tourism industry is also among the major obstructions faced by Dark Tourism.
Dark Tourism Sites in India:
The complex history of India makes it a perfect choice for Dark Tourists. India shelters numerous spots which fall under the category of “Dark Tourism”:
- Bhangarh Fort, Rajasthan:-Located in Alwar district of Rajasthan, this fort was built by Raja Bhagwant Singh for his younger son Madho Singh in 1573 A.D. It is often believed that the fort was cursed by a tantrik priest who fell in love with the royal daughter but he didn’t stand any chance. So, he tried to cast a spell on princess and on the failure of his cast, he cursed the princess, her family and even the entire village. It is said that due to the death of the family, the souls of those still stray there.
- Kuldhara, Rajasthan:- Settled at a distance of 17 km from Jaisalmer, Kuldhara used to be a prosperous village until a point of time in the 19th century when suddenly the village along with surrounding 83 villages more disappeared mysteriously. This place is visited by many people from all around the world to see the dark side of Rajasthan and get to know the infamous tales about it.
- Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar:- The most depressed and unforgettable incident of Indian history happened at this place. On 13th April, 1919, thousands of innocent and unarmed people were killed brutally at the hands of British Army. People visit this site to see those bullet holes which were made on that day and are still viewable even today. These represent the gruesome event that took place that day.
- Dumas Beach, Gujarat:- Often known as devil’s paradise, this beach is settled along the Arabian Sea. It is said that once this beach was used as a cremation ground, therefore, the beach is covered with black sand which were left over as ashes. Many paranormal activities have been observed on this beach during the night time. According to the locals residing nearby, many eerie voices have also been heard. This place is often counted amongst the most haunted spots of the country.
- Three Kings Church, Goa:- This haunted church is located 15 km far from the Velsao in Goa. The locals who had an evening walk near the church have mentioned about the strange happenings. The haunted story is based on the greed of three kings. It is said that they killed each other in the quest of gaining the right to rule that property and now their spirits wander in the church premises.
- Skeleton Lake, Uttarakhand:- Roopkund Lake is the glacial lake nestled at an elevation of 5,029 m. it is said that this lake shelters the remains of dead humans. Usually, this lake is seen frozen all around the year but whenever the ice melts, the remnants of flesh, hair, clothes, jewelry, etc. are discovered around this lake. Due to its supernatural nature, this lake is also called “Mystery Lake”.
- Lambi Dehar Mines, Mussoorie:- Though Mussoorie is counted amongst the most beautiful hill stations of India, but it also shelters a scary site known by the name of The Mine of Death. In 1990, around 50,000workers died a horrible death due to their wrong mining practices. From then onwards, the nature has took over these spooky mines by growing trees and shrubs in the surrounding area and the houses of the workers who used to live nearby. The locals have recounted about the bawls of people at night along with other paranormal activities. Adding to the apocalyptic aura of this place, many car accidents and a helicopter crash have also occurred near the mines.
- The Savoy Hotel, Mussoorie:- Another eerie location in Mussoorie is Savoy Hotel. When a hotel is considered, thoughts like luxury, happiness come to mind but this hotel is much different from all others as there is a mysterious story attached to it. Based on the English Gothic architecture style, this hotel is spread over an area of 11 acres. The horror story of this hotel dates back to the summers of 1911 when a 49 year old lady, Miss Frances Garnett-Orme was found dead in a hotel room. The strange thing was that her room was locked from inside, giving rise to the suspicions on her associate Miss Eva Mountstephen but nothing was proved against her. It is said that the ghost of Miss Garnett still haunts the Savoy Hotel. This mysterious death also served as a plot to the first detective novel “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” by Agatha Christie.
- Shaniwar Wada, Pune:- This grand mansion was built by Bajirao I, who served as the Peshwa to the Maratha Ruler Chhatrapati Sahu, in the 18th century. Apart from being the famous tourist destination, this mansion is also one of the spine-chilling spots of the country. The story narrates that Peshwa was killed brutally at the hands of Raghunath Rao’s guards. He roamed about the fort and groaned for help to his uncle. The spot at which he was assassinated is frequented by his spirit till date and he still asks for his uncle’s help. The nearby inhabitants have stated to having heard his bawls on particular nights.
- Ramoji Film City, Hyderabad:-It is the second largest film city of India. It was inaugurated by producer Ramaji Rao in 1996. This film city is regarded as the creepy site in Hyderabad. According to the claims of witnesses, mirrors are scribbled in weird urdu words, leftover food is scattered all around the floor. The girls are seen as ghosts’ favorites as scary images make their appearances in their changing rooms and bathroom doors are knocked continuously.
- Cellular Jail, Andaman and Nicobar Islands:- Mostly known as “Kala Pani”, this jail was built by the British in the early 20th century. Around 80,000 prisoners who were thought to be the enemies of empire were prisoned here. They used to be given torturous treatment in form of beatings and punishments. Some sort of medical experiments were also done on the prisoners. Others were fed through nostrils, causing hazardous diseases and leading to their deaths as a consequence. According to the information, it is also clear that the cells in which prisoners were kept didn’t have any windows, further isolating the prisoners severely. The walls of Cellular Jail are testaments of those sufferings. This complex serves as a National Memorial monument today.
- Gandhi Smriti, Delh:-This is the site of assassination of the Nation’s father Mahatma Gandhi. It is where he spent the last few days of his life before his killing on 30 January, 1948. In today’s date, there is a museum named National Gandhi Museum dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi, situated at this place. One of three bullets through which Gandhi was killed is available on display at this museum.
- Taj Palace Hotel, Mumbai:-It is a heritage, five-star luxury hotel, built in the Colaba region of Mumbai. In November 2008, it was attacked by 10 members of terrorist organization, based in Pakistan. It was a series of 12 coordinated bombing and shooting attacks. The attacks lasted for four days, resulting in the hundreds of people dead and several wounded. Many tourists visit these sites along with Chabad House, Oberoi Hotel, etc.
- Bhuj, Gujarat:-A massive earthquake hit the city of Bhuj, Gujarat on 26th January, 2001. The destructive earthquake lasted for 2 minutes and wreaked havoc on the city. The epicenter of the earthquake was about 9 km southwest of the village of Chobari in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District. Lakhs of people lost their lives and thousands were left homeless by the magnitude of that earthquake. Even today, the strange air blows in Bhuj, making the atmosphere quite weird for the inhabitants.
- Gas Tragedy, Bhopal:- The Bhopal Gas Tragedy was an industrial disaster, occurred on 3 December, 1984. The incident took place at a Union Carbide subsidiary plant. 42 tons of toxic Methyl Isocyanides (MIC) were released by the plant, culminating into the choked lungs of thousands of people. Many died an instant death. The toxin-related issues still continue to prevail in Bhopal. And the victims claim to have not received proper compensation. The artifacts and records of the affected communities have been kept as a commemoration in the Remember Bhopal Museum.
After going through the detailed descriptions of the Dark sites, it can be concluded that India is accomplished with Dark destinations as well. Therefore, India holds a potential for Dark Tourism as people from all around the world visit to wander through these sites. Further, to get more Dark Tourists, the government should arrange for the necessary around these sites so that tourists can come and know about the various folk tales prevalent about all these sites. These Dark sites also require to be promoted in order to make people aware about the existence of so many Dark destinations in the country.