India is primarily a cultural destination in International Tourism map. History and its products remain prime attractions in both international and domestic tourism. In fact, tourism is the most important area where history seems to be active as an attraction. Offering historical destinations and museums in travel packages have increased with the growth of special interest tourism. History also figures in shopping and entertainment. People always love to know the history of designs and styles of jewellery and crafts they wish to buy.
History is offered as a product in tourism. History figures prominently in promotional literature. Many destinations like Bangalore, the Garden City has been promoted through its historicity. Rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing etc have their own history in terms of peaks, trails taken by famous mountaineers and climbers. History has been a popular theme in travel writing. The major problem of such write-ups is that most of them do not differentiate between history, mythology and legends. Distortions are put in history without any substantial evidence. This is a very common practice among guides.
Distortions in history take place due to
- Lack of awareness about scientific history and dependance on unauthenticated history books
- Intentional approach to propagate one's own bias and interpretation of history
- Unconsciously, just to add some spice to write ups and make the destination look more attractive
Several implications rise up as a result of this. Some of them are
1. Making generalizations that are not substantiated by evidence can lead to embarrassing situations.
2. Attributing things to divine powers or mythology is in fact denying the people of that particular age the credit due to them in terms of their knowledge, wisdom or creativity. For eg: The Garbagraha of a temple in Orissa will have sun rays going right into it till late evening. Guides propagate that it is the power of God, but actually it is the skill of the architect who built the temple.
3. Giving communal versions of history at various destinations.Yes, we had a history of destruction and plunder, but we also have a history of harmony, cooperation and understanding between different religious communities. We need to project the positive side of history.