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Tourism: A Sacred Journey? The Case of Ashram Tourism, India

Title:Tourism: A Sacred Journey? The Case of Ashram Tourism, India
Authors:Richard Sharpley and Priya Sundaram
Publication:International Journal of Tourism Research / John Wiley & Sons
Enumeration:Volume 7, Number 3 (May 2005)
Abstract:Religious tourism?—?tourism that is motivated by faith or religious reasons?—?has been in evidence for centuries. In more recent times, however, it has been suggested that modern tourism has become the functional and symbolic equivalent of more traditional religious practices, such as festivals and pilgrimages. In other words, it is claimed by some that tourism is a sacred journey. To date, however, little work has been undertaken to explore this position; the purpose of this paper, therefore, is to contribute to this debate. Based on an exploratory study, it considers the motivations and experiences of Western tourists visiting the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the nearby utopian township of Auroville in Pondicherry, south east India. It identifies two principal groups of visitors, namely ‘permanent tourists’ who have immersed themselves indefinitely in a spiritual ‘Other’, and temporary visitors. The latter are categorised into sub-groups which point to a variety of spiritual and non-spiritual motives. The paper concludes that there is a continuum of spirituality inherent in tourism, though this is related to tourists' experience rather than initial motivation. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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