Tamil Nadu

Foreign tourists leave Alanganallur disappointed


Only a few of them were seated in the exclusive gallery


Many of the foreign tourists who visited Alanganallur on Tuesday went back disappointed as they could not go near the arena, where the famous jallukattu was held.

Eliska and Irena Irene, who had come all the way from Czech Republic, said they were upset about not being allowed into the gallery despite having reached the spot early. They said their agents had approached District Tourism Office for passes to the special gallery established for foreigners days before the event. “I have not heard from any authorities here and police officials are not letting us enter any of the roads that lead to the venue,” she said.

Jallikattu, a traditional sport of Tamil Nadu, has been on the list of must-watch events for most tourists. Many tourists from the US, the UK and Japan specifically book their tours to south Tamil Nadu to participate in Pongal festivities in January.

In Alanganallur, a gallery is specially built for foreigners to watch the action from. This year, security was tightened as Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Paneerselvam inaugurated the event. This prevented many foreigners from entering the gallery, according to a senior official of Tourism department.

He said only 25 foreigners were seated in the gallery, which could accommodate 150 persons. The tourists, who were asked to register with the department for free passes from January 13, were divided into batches of 25 and taken to the gallery on rotation every two hours, said the official. However, only a very few foreign tourists were seated in the gallery.

“Many people in the village who own houses at vantage points charge exorbitant rates to allow foreigners to witness the sport from. If Tourism department strictly enforces the rule of taking foreign tourists in groups to the gallery for an hour or two, it will generate positive publicity for the sport and the village,” said a person associated with hospitality industry.

Jonathan Lane from Tokyo, Japan, said he loved the hospitality of the villagers but better planning by officials would have offered them a pleasant experience.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 1:29:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/foreign-tourists-leave-alanganallur-disappointed-madurai/article22451016.ece

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