Visitor Perception and Expectation of Heritage Tourism at Mahabalipuram Monuments

Visitor Perception and Expectation of Heritage Tourism at Mahabalipuram Monuments

Bindu V. T. Nair (Avinashilingam Institue for HomeScience and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, India) and Sathiyabamavathy K. (Avinashilingam Institute of Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Coimbatore, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4330-6.ch012


This chapter explores visitor perception and expectation of heritage tourism at Mahabalipuram group of monuments. Visitor opinions were collected in the form of constructed questionnaire to study the perception and expectation of Mahabalipuram as the visitors can act as ambassadors for heritage tourism development. The research objectives of this study were therefore to assess tourists' motives for visiting Mahabalipuram, their expectation of the heritage destination, and their perception after visiting the monument. The competitiveness as a destination and the gap between tourists' perceptions and expectations were assessed in the current study. The present study discloses the gap of visitor expectations and their perceived feelings of the heritage destination. Visitor perception on the major 5A's were assessed in this study, which pave the way for better positioning and planning of the destination.
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India is a land of cultural and natural treasures. Indian cultural and heritage centers are unique and exhaustive. Indian Cultural and heritage tourism plays a pivotal role in the tourism receipts of the country. Heritage tourism acts as a medium to reconstruct and communicate the national solidarity. Mahabalipuram is one of the UNESCO recognized world Heritage Site of seventh and eighth century in India attracting visitors globally. October 11 2019, was one of the most remarkable day of Mamallapuram where Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi hosted the meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mahabalipuram monuments were contributed by the Pallava dynasty and monolithic rock cut architecture is their specialty. Mahabalipuram is situated 50 km south of Chennai in the Coromandel Cost of Bay of Bengal. The historic city had foreign trade even in the seventh and eighth century with China, Sri Lanka and other South-Asian Countries. Understanding the potential and heritage and cultural background of the city, the present study revolves around Mahabalipuram monuments. Mahabalipuram or Mamallapuram is a historic city. During the reign of the Pallava dynasty, between the 3rd century CE and 7th century CE, it became an important centre of art, architecture and literature. Mahabalipuram was already a thriving sea port on the Bay of Bengal before this time. The site has 400 ancient monuments and Hindu temples, including one of the largest open-air rock reliefs in the world: the Descent of the Ganges or Arjuna’s Penance. The monuments were built during the Pallava dynasty. Known as the Seven Pagodas in many colonial-era publications, they are also called the Mamallapuram temples or Mahabalipuram temples in contemporary literature. The site, restored after 1960, has been managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. As per the Archeological Survey of India further investigations in Mahabalipuram helps in protecting coastal monuments that are threatened by the incursion of the sea and there are plenty for chances of discovering more manmade structures from underwater and restoring them. Preserving Heritage monuments will helps to build social capital, promotes the preservation of local customs, culture and traditions, improves the community’s image and pride and on the whole promotes positive behavior of the community. In this high tourism competitive environment a tourism destination should constantly strengthen its competitive edge by meeting the needs of visitors more than other destinations. Comprehending the visitor´s perception of heritage could be beneficial for segmenting the visitors (Biran, 2011). Tourism is one of the main driving forces for socio-economic growth in developing country like India. Government of India and Ministry of Tourism and Culture encourage heritage tourism development in India by offering several benefits to the Indian states that are predominantly famous for attracting tourists. India's rich heritage is sufficiently reflected in the various temples, palaces, monuments, and forts which is found everywhere in the country. Cultural heritage destination showcases the masterpieces of ancestor’s creativity to reflect the traditional values of the society. It enhances the self esteem and pride of local people, offers opportunities to communicate and understand tourists with diverse cultural background from various part of the world. As per the Archaeological Survey of India, among the most popular heritage destinations in India Mahabalipuram attracts thousands of visitors every year globally (MoT). This echoes the significance of this monument in the heritage sites of the country. Mamallapuram also called as Mahabalipuram is a town in southeastern Indian state of Tamilnadu that is best known for UNESCO recognized World Heritage Site of 7th and 8th century Group of Monuments at Mamallapuram. The town was named after Pallava king NarasimhavarmanI, who was also called as Mahamalla (Great Warrior). Due to economic prosperity, Mamallapuram became the site of group of royal monuments, Rathas (temples in the form of chariots), Mandapas (cave sanctuaries), the giant open air rock relief (Descent of the Ganges) and the Shore temple (dedicated to Hindu gods like Shiva, Durga, Vishnu, Krishna and others) in which most of them are carved out of living rock. The contemporary town plan of Mamallapuram was established by the British Raj in 1827 and recent excavation shows that the town served as main port for trade between countries like China, Srilanka and Rome (Sriharsha, 2018). These monuments are inscribed under the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1984 as a cultural heritage site. Tourism has grown consistently in Mahabalipuram and attained the maximum number of tourist arrivals every year. Most of the residents of Mahabalipuram are dependent on various activities of tourism industry directly and indirectly. Hence it is necessary to carry out in-depth study among the various factors influencing tourist activities in Mahabalipuram to promote Sustainable Tourism Development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Tourism Management: A discipline emerged to enhance the performance of tourism industry and tourist destinations

Sustainable Tourism: Net of practices and theories aimed at protecting the non-renewable resources that make tourism possible.

Tourist Destination: It is the place designed to receive and recreate tourists.

Loyalty Intention: The intention to repeat a purchase after having a good experience with the product.

Tourist Satisfaction: The concept refers to the levels of conformity expressed by consumers after having a tourist experience.

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