India set to begin 'lighthouse tourism'

Mumbai, Sep 28 (IANS) After general, pilgrimage, medical and adventure tourism, India now prepares to kick off "lighthouse tourism" as the newest effort to attract visitors, both domestic and foreign.

The famous Kanhiji Angre Lighthouse, off the Mumbai coast, will soon become a new tourist attraction with daylong trips to the venue, Union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi said here Saturday.

The ministries of tourism and shipping have drawn up elaborate plans to develop 15 lighthouses across the Indian coasts as tourist destinations, starting with Mumbai.

"We shall extend financial assistance for the purpose, and in the first phase, the Kanhoji Angre Lighthouse near Mumbai, Dolphin Nose Point Lighthouse in Visakhapatnam and one near Mamallapuram near Chennai are being developed as pilot projects. Of these, only Kanhoji Angre Lighthouse is located in the middle of the Arabian Sea off Mumbai," Chiranjeevi said.

Minister of State for Shipping Milind Deora said that the development of the Mumbai lighthouse involves conservation of the lighthouse, fort and viewing gallery, providing tent-style accommodation, construction of jetty and passenger terminals, and solar power electrification.

Deora said that the thrust is on developing the new destinations in an eco-friendly manner and all the works at Kanhoji Angre Lighthouse island will be ready in 10 months.

Both Chiranjeevi and Deora said that the development of such lighthouses will not only help protect national heritage, but also kindle interest among youth in the country's rich maritime history and heritage.

Named after Kanhoji Angre who led the Maratha navy between 1708 and 1729, and engaged British, Dutch and Portuguese navies in battle, the lighthouse is located on Kanhoji Angre Island, a hillock in the Arabian Sea, earlier known as Kennery Island and Khanderi Island.

It is located opposite the tiny Thal fishing port, nine nautical miles from Gateway of India, to the south and serves as an important landmark at the entrance of the busy Mumbai Harbour.

In 1852, a beacon was constructed on the Khanderi Island, which was later demolished because of its similarity with the Colaba lighthouse.

In October 1866, a new 17-metre-high octagonal masonry lighthouse was constructed, and the first light was lit there June 1867 to guide shipping vessels.

The first large wick lamp and optic assembly were supplied by Messrs. Chance Brothers, Birmingham, UK, which was replaced by a PV burner in 1930.

On the tiny Khanderi Island, there is a fort built by the Portuguese and later conquered by the Marathas.

In 1998, on the occasion Mumbai Port Trust's 125th anniversary celebrations, the Khanderi Island was renamed "Kanhoji Angre Island".

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