Rameswaram (Tamil Nadu), Oct 3 (IANS) Around 100 enthusiasts, including some from overseas, would converge at the temple/holy island of Rameswaram this month-end compete in a water sports event, an organiser said.
“To popularise water sports and also to offer tourists an additional attraction, we are organising the two-day sporting event,” M. Maria Roger Fernando, proprietor of Holy Island Water Sports Rental Services, told IANS on Friday at Rameswaram, around 560 km from state capital Chennai.
According to him, the Rs.10 lakh, October 31-November 1 event is expected to attract around 100 water sports enthusiasts from Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and other places.
“The racing events scheduled are: wind-surfing, kayaking, stand up paddle-boarding. The district administration is keen on the successful completion of this event which is to be sponsored by local business outfits,” he added.
Tourists to this Hindu pilgrimage centre are now also visiting the Holy Island Water Sports Park tucked away around one kilometre from Hotel Tamil Nadu.
“We are the only water sports park to offer jet ski services on sea in Tamil Nadu. The other rides we offer are kayak, banana ride, stand-up board and swan boat services,” Michael Dass Fernando, another proprietor, told IANS.
Soon, a boating service with the boat floor laid with glass will be added to existing services, so that tourists can view the coral reef, Michael Dass Fernando added.
Apart from water sports, the theme park offers land-based games like Columbus ride, water ball and others.
“We are in the process of building a marine fish aquarium. It will be ready soon. We have good variety in our sea. Marine ornamental fish are exported from this region,” Michael Dass Fernando said.
Apart from temple tourism, Rameswaram offers disaster tourism (a visit to Dhanskodi village which was gobbled up by the sea in 1964) and Kalam tourism (visit to former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s home and his burial site).
And now the water sport is another attraction for tourists in Rameswaram.
While Rameswaram is mainly a pilgrimage centre, the attitude of pilgrims has changed over the years and they are on the lookout for invigorating experiences, Michael Dass Fernando said.
“After offering their prayers at the Rameswaram temple, people now want to explore the place. With the sea being calm we saw good potential in water sports,” he added.
Rameswaram, according to him, has changed over the years.
“Fifteen years ago, there were just four lodges and now there are around 200. Residents are converting their homes into lodges,” Michael Dass Fernando said.
Several star hotels have also come up and more are on the anvil on the sea front, which augurs well for the water sports company.
According to him, the company started marketing the park in a serious manner only recently.
“We are promoting the park through social media and local hotels. We are also in touch with tour operators,” he said.
“While two banks rejected our loan application saying that water sports may not succeed in a pilgrimage centre, the State Bank of India thought otherwise and saw good potential in the project and sanctioned the loan,” Michael Dass Fernando said.