The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is working on a tie-up between hospitality provider Airbnb and locals for offering home-stay to tourists visiting the Elephanta Caves island located in Mumbai Harbour. The policy aims to overcome the security concerns due to high security installations facing the island that does not allow construction of hotels and night stay.
Tourism Minister Jaykumar Rawal said the 29th two-day Elephanta Festival, beginning January 27, will be held on the island itself again. After the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the festival venue was shifted to the Gateway of India in south Mumbai. "Seventy years after Independence, the island is soon to get proper electricity connection depending upon the testing of the electricity meters," the minister said. Rawal said there are about 1,200 to 1,500 homes on the Elephanta island, also known as Gharapuri Island, located east of Mumbai.
The minister said no new constructions are allowed on the island due to high-security installations of ONGC and the Navy. The Caves are declared a heritage site by the UNESCO and protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Rawal said the government in a tie-up with the Mumbai Port Trust and the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) is planning a cable car over the sea for travelling to the island. The island is expected to get proper electricity connection within a week's time.
"The Elephanta festival will coincide with the culminating phase of the Mumbai Shopping Festival that will end on January 31," he said, adding that the Elephanta fest will comprise activities like treasure hunt at Elephanta, a sculpture and a painting contests with prize money. Besides this, the festival will have art, dance and music performances by Zia Nath, Sangeeta Trivedi, Sumeet Nagdev, Hans Raj Hans and others, Rawal said.
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