Ayodhya, a city revered for its religious significance, is now becoming a tourism hub, especially after the grand opening of the Ram Mandir.
The city's administration has laid down a unique condition for food chains eager to tap into this burgeoning market: they must serve exclusively vegetarian menus within the Panch Kosi Marg, a 15-km pilgrimage circuit around the Ram Temple.
KFC's vegetarian venture
In a surprising moment, Ayodha's administration has allowed US-based Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), a global fast-food chain known for its fried chicken, to open an outlet in Ayodhya, though with a twist.
The twist is that KFC will be allowed only if they don't have a non-vegetarian menu. Ayodhya's district magistrate, Nitish Kumar, said that while all brands are welcome, adherence to the vegetarian-only rule within the restricted area is non-negotiable.
The influence of pilgrimage tourism
The influx of visitors to Ayodhya, particularly following the consecration ceremony of the idol of Lord Ram, has led to a surge in demand for food and hospitality services.
Local businesses and international food chains alike are seizing the opportunity to cater to this diverse crowd, which now includes not just pilgrims but tourists from across the country familiar with global cuisine.
The city's evolving culinary scene reflects a broader trend of integrating traditional religious tourism with modern consumer preferences.
Expanding the food horizon
Despite the restrictions, the enthusiasm among international food chains to establish a presence in Ayodhya is palpable. Vishal Singh, a government official, noted that there are offers from major outlets to set up shops, provided they comply with the vegetarian mandate.
This openness to global brands signifies a recognition of the changing dietary preferences among visitors and the potential for economic growth through tourism. The presence of vegetarian outlets in popular chains like Domino’s and the anticipation of KFC's vegetarian venture highlights a significant shift towards accommodating a wider range of tastes and preferences.
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