Aiming at rejuvenating the rich maritime history, India’s 75 iconic lighthouses are set to be developed as major tourist destinations and unravel the illustrious stories to the world.
Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, inaugurated the maiden edition of ‘Bharatiya Prakash Sthamb Utsav’ or Indian Lighthouse Festival at the historic Fort Aguada in Panjim, Goa on 23 September 2023.
Speaking at the occasion, Sonowal said, “With the launch of this festival, we are enabling a process to rejuvenate the age old classics in 75 lighthouses across coastal India with the sole purpose to unravel the rich heritage of these iconic sites and present them to the world.“
Steps are being undertaken to enable the lighthouses to becomes catalysts of educational, cultural and tourist hotspots.
Sonwal explained that for too long the silent sentinels of coastlines were left ignored, while serving the light of hope to scores of sailors and ships amidst the darkest nights.
“The Lighthouse Festival is our endeavor to change that. It is our mission to inform, engage, and educate all of you about the vital role these historic beacons have played in our nation’s history,” he added.
The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways is aiming to leverage the Indian Lighthouse Festival to shore up base for a public-private partnership route to develop the structures into world class tourist destinations.
The directorate general of lighthouses and lightships has already identified 75 such lighthouses, and this festival is a testament to the commitment of the government to celebrate and preserve our maritime heritage.
The Union Minister said, “The Lighthouse Festival is a magnificent celebration that promises to be a captivating journey through time and beauty, a journey that will illuminate the hidden gems of our maritime history and reveal the untold stories of our historic lighthouses.”
As a part of the ‘Reform to Transform’ initiative, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government enacted the Marine Aids to Navigation Act, 2021 by repealing the Lighthouse Act, 1927 to provide a framework for development, maintenance and management of aids to navigation in India.
“Under this, the innovative concept of heritage lighthouse was introduced, wherein the central government may designate any aid to navigation under its control as a heritage lighthouse,” Minister Sonowal explained.
In addition to their function as aids to navigation, such lighthouses will be developed for educational, cultural, and tourism purposes.
He further added, “This festival is not just about knowledge; it’s about creating value and opportunities. Beyond the festival, our vision is to promote lighthouses as tourism destinations, to breathe new life into these historic structures, and to create opportunities for local communities and businesses.”
The key highlights of India’s first ‘Lighthouse Festival’ are cultural exhibitions, session highlighting maritime history and culture, classical performances, light and sound shows, melodious evenings with celebrity singers, flavours of the coast and community engagements.