Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
interviewed said that they had come to the hills
for 'rest and relaxation', for a break from work,
'to get away from it all' and/or to 'enjoy the
natural environment'. These same words were
used again and again. Asked exactly what these
terms meant, respondents explained that the
hills provided escape from the noise, the rush
and the pollution of the city; escape from the
long hours of work; time to relax with wives/
husbands and families in a beautiful setting,
and on the hills they felt close to nature.
Most modern Indian tourists, however,
have neither such obsessions nor such preten-
tions, and space on the hills is now invested
with very different meanings (Massey, 1994).
They are predominantly places of beauty and
escape for Indian tourists, and although Euro-
peans also sought to escape to the hills, it was
for different reasons and from different pres-
sures. Because the conditioning of both sets of
visitors is so very different, inevitably, the eyes
through which they see the hills are markedly
One notable difference between European
visitors and modern domestic tourists concerns
travel and the length of their stay on the hills. In
the 19th century, the journey was lengthy and
tiring and visitors stayed for weeks and months.
Today, travel is much easier. With the develop-
ment of technology in the form of air travel,
good roads and cars, travel has become part of
the leisure experience, extending the time cou-
ples and families can spend together. There
is evidence that more families are travelling
together now than ever in the past (Varghese,
2005). This brings to mind Urry's (2002) scapes
and fl ows where travel itself becomes part of the
scape, infl uencing the fl ows of tourists. Along
the routes enterprises develop, small at fi rst,
responding to increasing demand by tourists for
restaurants, local crafts and many other prod-
ucts, access to which adds to the intensity of
consumerism and becomes part of the holiday.
Hill station visitors were knowledgeable about a
range of destinations and were eager to relate
where they had been, and where they were
going next. The nature of their engagement with
the hills accords with the fi ndings of Chaney
(2002) and Larsen (2001), who refers to the
'mobile travel experience' where participants
are able to experience a moving landscape as
immobile observers, glancing rather than engag-
ing any more closely. Technological improve-
ments have increased time-space compression
and Harvey (1989) argues that this has
enhanced rather than diminished the signifi -
cance of space and place. However, much
depends on the term 'signifi cance'. In colonial
times, cultural capital was undoubtedly obtained
from visiting hill stations and experiencing Brit-
ish culture for a period of the year. There was
considerable snobbery between the hill stations
and the clear hierarchy that existed between
Discussion: Comparing and
Contrasting the Gaze over Time
Getting away from it all (to peace, quiet and
'undefi led nature') embodies similar sentiments
to those of the Europeans who so enjoyed
'going to the hills'. While the desire to experi-
ence proximity to nature was as strong among
European visitors as among modern Indians, it
is noteworthy that the colonials were keen to
escape the heat, the fl ies and the noise of the
plains, but Indians rarely referred to escaping
the heat. Pollution and congestion are more
contemporary concerns in modern urban India
(Mohanraj and Azeez, 2005). Almost all the
modern visitors enjoyed the scenic beauty of
the hills and spent much of their time preoccu-
pied with this aspect of their trip. They were far
less interested in constructed monuments, even
though these were always advertised. It could
thus be argued that the values that India's
domestic tourists attribute to space on the hills,
and the ways in which they engage with it are
signifi cantly different from their European pre-
decessors (Massey, 1994, cited in Crouch,
2002). In colonial times a great deal of energy
was devoted to mastering, possessing and even
transforming space on the hills so that it con-
formed to predetermined criteria, which related
to Britain and the Empire. It was this obsession
with recreating the landscape - this staged
authenticity - which attracted many visitors for
whom returning to Britain was not an option.
Many took the beauty of the environment even
further, claiming to have found 'paradise' and
'Eden' on the hills (Price, 1908; Kennedy, 1996),
a paradise they tried to possess and from which
most Indians were excluded.
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