Repackaging India’s Sacred Geography: Travel Agencies and Pilgrimage-Related Travel

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  • 1 University College of Southeast Norway, Faculty of Humanities, Sports and Educational Science, Department of Culture, Religion and Social Studies

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Abstract

This article is an attempt to open up the study of pilgrimage and tourism by concentrating on the role of travel agencies in developing Hindu pilgrimage in India. Identifying two limitations in the ongoing debate, it makes use of less-explored themes and concepts including travel menus, package tours, itineraries, day tours, circuits, and scheduling. Surveying 46 travel brochures and popular tours promoted by travel agencies in Delhi, Haridwar, and Vrindavan, it investigates how travel agencies repackage the sacred geography of Hinduism, tying it up with the broader tourist geography of India. Turning to the varied motivations of participants in day tours to pilgrimage sites, I present my analysis of the overarching developments in what I call pilgrimage-related travel. Crucially, visits to pilgrimage sites are increasingly framed as darshan tours reflecting how increased scheduling privileges darshan and donation as the principal religious act.

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