A symbol of development Bhakra Dam, constructed soon after Independence from the British colonial rule 50yrs ago. First Prime Minister late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru called Bhakra a Temple of Modern India. The dam was dedicated to the nation by Pt. Nehru on 20th November 1963. As the mercury is on the rise, a large number of tourists are rushing to see one of the highest gravity dam in the world, situated in Bhakra village of Naina Devi Sub-Tehsil in Bilaspur district. The strength of the tourists is much more on the weekends and increases to about 10 thousand during summers.
According to the records, as many as 3 lakh tourists including foreign nationals visit Bhakra Dam every year. Besides the Dam, there is a museum, where records of the development of the dam, right from the excavation period, are displayed in the form of photographs to attract the visitors
Bhakra Dam is 225.55m (740feet) high and the concrete used for constructing the Dam is sufficient to build 8 feet wide road around the earth equator. The largest man made lake in north India Govind Sager, which is created by the dam, is 168.35 square kilometers in area with a gross storage of 7.8 million acre feet. Water gets stored in the lake with the melting of snow and rainfall in its catchments area. Bhakra Dam supplies water and power to the northern India throughout the year as per water availability.
But the problem is that the Himachal Tourism Department has not exploited the tourist potential of the place. The tourists never stay in the nearby places due to the absence of a complex and other facilities in Bilaspur. The tourists after visiting the dam return to their respective destinations.
Due to security reasons, only a few visitors get a special permit to witness the overall functioning of the dam from inside. Most of the visitors get to see the Dam only from the outside after getting a permit from Bhakra Beas Management Public Relation Office, situated in Nangal town (Punjab).
Here is a chance by which the tourism department could attract tourists by providing best facilities. A number of places along the Govind Sagar lake in the nearby villages could be developed where besides the boating facilities, eatable shops and some places to stay could be provided.
If the spot along the bank lake could be developed, it would help the people, who have been living in the nearby villages, to get some sources of income. As most of the villagers do not have any job, they run roadside shops or work as daily wagers.
A number of boats run by the people at a place about 5 km from the dam carry locals to the villages situated on the other side of the lake and also pilgrims to Baba Balak Nath temple. But these boats lack safety because of the absence of safety jackets. Bhakra could be boom in tourism sector if Himachal Govt. take start to promote it.
By: Pravinder Sharma