Walking through the deserted place, looking at the walls of the chambers, one could very clearly hear the shrieks of the poor victims who have been tortured here years ago. One could feel the pain and fear as if the whole incident was just unfolding in front of her/his eyes. Welcome to the sinister world of Dark Tourism.
Dark tourism is a term which is still quite uncommon for the Indian population but, mind you, it is one of the fastest emerging trends in tourism industries all around the world.
Because it attracts more tourists every year than a simple temple or monument without a dark past ever could!
So, let us understand what dark tourism is all about, shall we?
Demystifying Dark Tourism
Dark tourism is a term introduced to justify why scores of people visit a certain place which has witnessed some kind of catastrophe, mass-killing, massacre, murder or any other tragedy that is enough to send us scurrying back to light but simultaneously awaken our curiosity and draw us back to it.
This is a recently developed concept by tourism enthusiasts and those working in the tourism industry to feed on the preoccupation of people worldwide to visit and explore the unexplored and understand more closely, what happened to the victim/s of a particular dark site, mainly a site where something bad has happened.
It is evident that the term “dark” represents the place where something horrendous has happened, more precisely, a dark chapter in history.
This explains why 5 million tourists visit the Ground Zero of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York every year. It is the most visited “dark site” in the world!
Other such extremely famous dark tourist sites around the world are:
- Auschwitz is your go-to when it comes to REAL Dark Tourism.
After the end of the World War II, some of Hitler’s concentration camps were intact only to be getting popular as a tourist destination. One of the most famous ones is Auschwitz in Germany. People visit Auschwitz for many reasons. Some say they come to pay respect to the victims who perished here. Others want to experience the pain and angst of the people subjected to the worst inhuman practices till date.
- The 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Disaster Site in the Ukrainian city of Pripyat. This deserted city which never got a chance to grow for more than 16 years is the site which witnessed the worst nuclear power plant disaster in the history of such disasters. Hundreds of tourists from all around the world visit this site every year to have a glimpse of how the city was evacuated overnight. One could spot the things left as they were back then.
Dark enough to send a chill down our spine!
- The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, a memorial cum museum dedicated to documenting the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in World War II. The museum contains belongings of the victims who perished in that deadly atomic bombing. Each item present there gives the tourists a vicarious experience of the grief, pain, and anger of the victims. This is exactly what dark tourism all about.
Scope of Dark Tourism in India
One reason why most Indians are unaware of this term and concept is that it has not been given the appropriate amount of attention as it is getting in other parts of the world.
This can be because Indians are yet to broaden their minds further when it comes to embracing the unknown. Active promotion of this type of “sinister” tourism has not been undertaken here in India keeping in mind the tastes of the Indian tourists.
I am sorry to say but there are comparatively lesser Indians who are adventurous when it comes to exploring the dark sites.
But, then again this is changing.
Today’s generation is more of the adventurer sort.
How many of your parents’ friends will be enthusiastic when you mention you want to visit say a haunted house or a place notorious for suicides?
I bet your friends would be up for it any day.
Which is why I feel that dark tourism has a lot of scope in India if it is marketed properly.
Few “Dark Sites” Here In India
Even though dark tourism is not that popular in India, there are pretty famous dark spots which you have been visiting often.
Heck, you may not be even aware that you are a dark tourist (a dark tourism enthusiast I mean)!
- Taj Mahal: Yes, it does come in the category of a dark site. Most probably because of the fact that Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal was buried here. And also the fact that a husband built such a beautiful mausoleum for his wife!
But that’s not dark enough. Let’s dig deeper.
- The Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar: This place is undoubtedly one of the top dark sites in the World. It is the place where hundreds of Indians were ruthlessly murdered by British General Dyer. Tourists visiting it can see for themselves the bullet shots on the walls of the Bagh which is a throwback to the cries of the innocent lives lost there.
- Kuldhara in Rajasthan: This is a place where supposedly 83 villages vanished into thin air in just one night! Nobody knows what happened to the villagers or why they just lost their existence. Imagine it happening to one of the cosmopolitans!
There are of course many dark sites in India, some popular, some hidden away yet to be discovered.
But given the rate at which tourism industry here is accelerating, the time is not far away when India would be on top in terms of dark tourism destinations around the world.
Image Credits: Google Images
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