One of the major attractions for visitors at Udaipur is the Ambrai Ghat situated in the walled city area, on the banks of the famous Pichhola Lake. Over the last few months, the tourist spot, which also houses a temple in its premises, is in the news for the regulations, entry fees and unauthorized collections by the Contractor. This has led the Devasthan department at Udaipur to issue a notice to the Contractor, which he says, contradicts the clauses in the regulations.
Radiant Tours of Jaipur, is the firm that holds the contract for maintenance of Ambrai Ghat and is accused of taking fees, which are in addition to the official entry fee that is being charged by the Devasthan department. The contractor firm is charging this money in the name of the Devasthan department, and Deepika Meghwal, Deputy Commissioner, Devasthan, Udaipur has refuted the claims made by the Contractor, Pradeep Joshi. She confirms that Devasthan department has imposed an entry fee of Rs. 10 for visitors to Ambrai Ghat. The additional fee for mobile and digital camera (those doing photography) is being charged illegally by the Contractor, for which a notice has been issued.
Visitors who are upset about the fees collected are claiming that charging this amount for a few images is ridiculous. As we can see, neither the palace nor any other locations in Udaipur charge such a sum proportionately for mobiles. A few student leaders also teamed up on 12 September to give a memorandum to the district administration on the matter.
Udaipur Times had initiated the maintenance and upkeep issue with Devasthan department in Udaipur in 2021, following which the ticket charges were imposed. Our team has been following up on this matter time and again, and when the team from UT visited Ambrai Ghat on 7 September, 2022, they witnessed the additional fees being taken from the visitors and brought this to the notice of Devasthan department. The team also got a chance to have a conversation with the tourists present there. Chaitanya Parmer, a tourist from Ahmadabad said that Rs. 10 per person is fine as the place needs maintenance; however a charge of Rs. 200 for carrying a mobile for photography is unwarranted and exorbitant. He added that the ticket collectors instructed them not to disturb the groups who had come for the pre-wedding photo session, which was unfair given that the tourist is paying for entry and still not given freedom. Another tourist Sonu Gulani from Bundi Rajasthan stated that people who come to Udaipur to visit this place will return back from the gate by seeing these fees.
Udaipur Times on speaking to Devasthan department, learnt that the contractor was charging the extra fee at his own behest and that the department had only imposed a Rs. 10 charge. Apart from this, nothing else was being charged.
“No rule has been implemented from theDevasthan Department, that tourists will have to pay Rs.200 for mobile.” – Deepika Meghwal, Deputy Commissioner, Devasthan Department.
This is not the first time that that contractor has imposed additional charges in the name of Devsthan department. In a conversation with Deepika Meghwal from the Devasthan department, she claimed that the department had agreed with the Contractor that there will be no charge for carrying a mobile. Further, the department had arranged that mobiles can be kept at the counter, which again contradicts the statement by the Devasthan department.
The statements given by the Devasthan department, the regulations listed at the entry gate, the charges and the claims by the Contractor and the refuting of the charges by the Devasthan department, all seem to point at an elaborate misalignment, for which the tourists and the common man are paying out of their pockets.