panels and flex, and are waterproof. They have wooden flooring and maintain a constant temperature. Priced at R12,000 per day, the cottages are furnished with imported furniture and have wi-fi facility as well. Moreover, 42 luxury cottages have also been set up at the mela venue that include modern gadgets
Apart from UP Tourism, many private tourism companies are also providing accommodation for pilgrims. For instance, Cox & Kings has put up 64 luxury tents at Laxmi Kutir in Allahabad. “There is a huge demand for accommodation, especially on the main bathing days. In order to cater to that demand, we have started this new trend of offering Bhakti Yatra package of four days/three nights at a price of R15,452 on twin sharing basis. “The package comes with all three meals, aarti darshan, a boat ride and an interaction with the sadhus. The response so far is good, but since pilgrimage tourism is a new phenomenon, it will take some time to catch up,” says a representative of the agency
Other private companies, too, are offering deluxe cottages at R10,000 per cottage per person for a day. They come with an in-built boat ride, three meals, a guide and a panoramic view of the ghats. The luxury deluxe rooms come at R12,000 while the suites come at R15,000 per day. These cottages have unique surroundings, including open-air restaurants and tourist information centres.
Abhijit Tripathi, an official of a private tourism company, says people booking for exclusive Swiss cottages are evincing great interest. “Tourists, especially foreign visitors at the Maha Kumbh Mela, have praised the luxury camps that have been offered to them.”
The issue of pollution in the rivers Ganga and Yamuna is increasingly becoming worrisome. Says Mahant Ramanand Das of Ram Ghat, Ayodhya, who relocated to Allahabad in 1968, “Pollution of the Ganga has become a major thorn in the proper conduct of our pujas. Some years back, the situation was so bad that even we holy men, who consider Ganga to be our mother and rever her sacredness, could not bathe in it, let alone drink from