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Touts divert tourists from Palace to shopping areas

Provide misleading information to visitors that Mysore Palace is closed for rituals

Mysore/Mysuru: The illustrious Mysore Palace, renowned for its Indo-Saracenic grandeur and rich history, confronts a formidable challenge from a set of people. This network disseminates false information, ensnaring inquisitive tourists and marring  their experiences.

With an annual influx of approximately 3.5 million tourists, the Mysore Palace ranks as India’s prime attraction after the Taj Mahal. Travellers from across the globe are drawn to its exquisite beauty, particularly when illuminated. However, an entrenched mafia presence within the city manipulates and misguides tourists, steering them away from the Palace and embroiling them in purchasing schemes for personal gain.

Impersonating guides, these people orchestrate a cartel that deceives tourists, leading them to private businesses and entertainment establishments in exchange for commissions. Visitors, especially those from out-of-State or outstation locales, are dissuaded from visiting the Mysore Palace and other tourist sites. Instead, they are directed to select private outlets selling handicrafts, silk and sandalwood sculptures, as well as amusement parks.

False information

Tourists arriving in Mysuru fall victim to these tactics as they receive false information about the Palace’s closure due to rituals or other reasons. They are then redirected to alternative locations, where the mafia profits from their unsuspecting victims. The mafia takes advantage of tourists’ curiosity by peddling fake Mysore Silk sarees and counterfeit items, causing financial losses for these travellers.

These mafia members position themselves strategically at key locations around the Palace and upon spotting vehicles with registration number  plates from other States heading towards the Palace, a person or two approaches and falsely claims the Palace is closed for a ceremony. Instead, tourists are directed towards exquisite handicraft and silk saree stores, promising additional sightseeing after shopping.

Tourists easily succumb to the ruse, following the guides to these outlets. The people are rewarded with generous commissions upon arrival at the shops. They either board the tourist vehicles or lead them on bikes, extorting money from tourists under the guise of assistance. Even auto-rickshaw drivers are complicit in this deception, exploiting and defrauding tourists.

Multiple letters

The situation has escalated to the extent that the Mysuru Palace Board Deputy Director and district officials, responsible for overseeing the Palace’s operations, have repeatedly communicated their concerns to the City Police Commissioner. The letters underscore the urgency of addressing the mafia’s activities and their detrimental impact on tourism.

Despite these efforts, minimal progress has been achieved, leaving tourists vulnerable to scams. Numerous complaints from defrauded tourists have poured in, revealing the extent of the problem. In an area renowned for its sandalwood, counterfeit sandalwood oil and jewellery further victimise unsuspecting tourists.

While the district officials have attempted to combat the issue through complaints and evidence submitted to the Police, the lack of proactive measures from law enforcement has cast a shadow over their endeavours. Efforts to preserve Mysore’s allure and uphold its status as a hospitable tourist destination face substantial obstacles. The imperative for swift, resolute action against the mafia has never been   more pressing.

‘Action will be taken’

We are not aware of the reasons behind some people preventing tourists from visiting the Mysore Palace. No correspondence has been received from the Mysuru Palace Board regarding this matter and we will pledge prompt attention in case the Board submits a complaint in writing. — Ramesh Banoth, City Police Commissioner

‘Police have to act’

Individuals with malicious intent mislead tourists by disseminating false information about a private royal event at the Mysore Palace, falsely indicating its closure. This deceptive practice aims to defraud tourists. We have brought the issue to the notice of many Deputy Commissioners who have written to the City Police Commissioner to address this issue. However, no Police action has been taken thus far. — T.S. Subramanya, Mysore Palace Board Deputy Director

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