KP plans projects to boost tourism

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The main courtyard at the Takht Bhai archaeological complex in Mardan. (AN photo)
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A view of a tourist spot developed by Tourism Corporation KP at Bishigram in Swat district. (AN photo)
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A view of a tourist spot developed by Tourism Corporation KP at Bishigram in Swat district. (AN photo)
Updated 23 September 2018
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KP plans projects to boost tourism

  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government plans to start a Rs 500 million project to promote tourism with cultural and religious attraction
  • South Korean embassy in Islamabad has expressed willingness to work on heritage sites in KP since many sites are considered holy by Buddhist monks

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has decided to establish a dedicated authority to boost tourism industry in the province.

New projects are also planned by the provincial government to promote religious tourism in particular — giving much hope of a business boom to tour operators in the province.
“The proposed Tourism Authority would include representatives from the tourism, communication and works and local government departments, and all these departments would work jointly,” said the provincial Minister for Tourism, Atif Khan, while talking to Arab News.
Khan added that the new autonomous authority would ensure efficient coordination between different departments for the promotion of tourism.
“Currently, a lot of time is wasted under the existing mechanism when authorities approach another department for construction of a road to a certain area or the provision of some other facility,” he added.
The KP government also plans to launch a project worth Rs 500 million to promote religious tourism, Khan told Arab News. “This would also entail facilities for historical sites which are considered holy by Buddhists,” he said.
New hotels would also be opened to provide accommodation to foreign tourists under this religious tourism project.
The South Korean embassy in Islamabad has expressed willingness to work on the heritage sites in KP since many sites are considered holy by Buddhist monks, said Khan.
“Takht Bhai relics are also among the world heritage sites,” he added.
“There is a centuries-old Hindu temple in Bughdada area in the Mardan district, but there are no facilities for those who wish to stay at the place,” Khan continued.
Shamsher Khan, a local tour operator, told Arab News: “We also have the world-famous Takht Bhai archaeological complex that is considered sacred by Buddhist monks across the world, but there is no hotel for foreigners to stay in the area.”
“The decision to establish a tourism authority is a positive step because KP has much potential for tourism compared with other areas of the country, and we need to focus more on it,” said Nazir Ahmed, another tour operator.
Nawazud Din, research officer at the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, said: “Peshawar has Gor Gutri’s complex, which is holy for Hindus and Buddhists. The complex is around 400 years old.”
He added that the directorate is also working to set up a park at Elum Mountain in Buner district, which is a holy place for Hindus and Buddhists alike.
“Before the 9/11 attacks, foreigners, especially Buddhists, used to visit the archaeological sites in KP. However, due to the wave of terrorism that hit this region, many stopped coming and now their younger generation is unaware of such sites in KP, said Din.
“We plan to promote religious tourism through exhibitions, online portals and printed books about such sites in KP,” Din added.
Gurpal Singh, an elder of the Sikh community in Peshawar, says that the government should revive the religious places of all communities.
“Now that peace has been restored, the government should give visas to foreigners and facilitate foreign tourists to visit the country. The Gurdwaras [temples] of Sikhs should also be opened for tourists,” he added.


Lefaucheux revolver ‘Van Gogh killed himself with’ up for auction

Updated 17 June 2019
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Lefaucheux revolver ‘Van Gogh killed himself with’ up for auction

  • Van Gogh experts believe that he shot himself with the gun near the village of Auvers-sur-Oise north of Paris
  • The seven-millimeter Lefaucheux revolver is expected to fetch up to $67,000

PARIS: The revolver with which Vincent van Gogh is believed to have shot himself is to go under the hammer Wednesday at a Paris auction house.
Billed as “the most famous weapon in the history of art,” the seven mm Lefaucheux revolver is expected to fetch up to $67,000 (€60,000).
Van Gogh experts believe that he shot himself with the revolver near the village of Auvers-sur-Oise north of Paris, where he spent the last few months of his life in 1890.
Discovered by a farmer in 1965 in the same field where the troubled Dutch painter is thought to have fatally wounded himself, the gun has already been exhibited at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
While Art Auction, who are selling the gun, say there is no way of being absolutely certain that it is the fatal weapon, tests showed it had been in the ground for 75 years, which would fit.
The Dutch artist had borrowed the gun from the owner of the inn in the village where he was staying.
He died 36 hours later after staggering wounded back to the auberge in the dark.
It was not his first dramatic act of self-harm. Two years earlier in 1888, he cut off his ear before offering it to a woman in a brothel in Arles in the south of France.
While most art historians agree that Van Gogh killed himself, that assumption has been questioned in recent years, with some researchers claiming that the fatal shot may have been fired accidentally by two local boys playing with the weapon in the field.
That theory won fresh support from a new biopic of the artist starring Willem Dafoe, “At Eternity’s Gate.”
Its director, the renowned American painter Julian Schnabel, said that Van Gogh had painted 75 canvasses in his 80 days at Auvers-sur-Oise and was unlikely to be suicidal.
The legendary French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere — who co-wrote the script with Schnabel — insisted that there “is absolutely no proof he killed himself.
“Do I believe that Van Gogh killed himself? Absolutely not!” he declared when the film was premiered at the Venice film festival last September.
He said Van Gogh painted some of his best work in his final days, including his “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” the local doctor who later tried to save his life.
It set a world record when it sold for $82.5 million in 1990.
The bullet Dr. Gachet extracted from Van Gogh’s chest was the same caliber as the one used by the Lefaucheux revolver.
“Van Gogh was working constantly. Every day he made a new work. He was not at all sad,” Carriere argued.
In the film the gun goes off after the two young boys, who were brothers, got into a struggle with the bohemian stranger.
Auction Art said that the farmer who found the gun in 1965 gave it to the owners of the inn at Auvers-sur-Oise, whose family are now selling it.
“Technical tests on the weapon have shown the weapon was used and indicate that it stayed in the ground for a period that would coincide with 1890,” it said.
“All these clues give credence to the theory that this is the weapon used in the suicide.”
That did not exclude, the auction house added, that the gun could also have been hidden or abandoned by the two young brothers in the field.
The auction comes as crowds are flocking to an immersive Van Gogh exhibition in the French capital which allows “the audience to enter his landscapes” through projections on the gallery’s walls, ceilings and floors.
“Van Gogh, Starry Night” runs at the Atelier des Lumieres in the east of the city until December.