The Congress government in Chhattisgarh has announced it will develop eight places in the state as tourist centres under the ‘Ram Vangaman Path’ project, which seeks to trace the places Lord Ram is believed to have visited during his exile.
A cabinet note on the matter said there is evidence that much of “Lord Ram’s exile in the forest was in Dandakaranya”, and “much of Dandakaranya is in Chhattisgarh”. The note added that several places which “Lord Ram visited are recorded in writings”.
Accordingly, in the first phase, eight places across eight districts spanning the state from north to south will be developed. These are Sitamarhi-Harchouka (Koria district), Ramgarh (Surguja), Shivrinarayan (Janjgir Champa), Turturiya (Balodabazaar Bhatapaara), Chandrakhuri (Raipur), Rajim (Gariaband), Sihava (Dhamtari) and Jagdalpur (Bastar).
Jagdalpur is already part of the Centre’s Ramayana Circuit tourism corridor, which also includes Ayodhya, Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh; Sitamarhi, Buxar & Darbhanga in Bihar; Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh, Mahendragiri in Odisha, Nashik and Nagpur in Maharashtra, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, Hampi in Karnataka and Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.
Apart from Chhattisgarh, the Madhya Pradesh government is also developing the Ram Vangaman Path. This was one of the Congress’s poll promises, and the Kamal Nath government has already prepared a blueprint for the project. The circuit in MP includes places like Chitrakoot, Panna, Dindori and Amarkantak, and the project envisages developing the small towns along the route, and building a highway, a walking path and even a cycling corridor for tourists.
The Indian Railways already runs two packages as part of the Centre’s Ramayana tourism initiative. While the Shri Ramayana Express covers Delhi, Ayodhya, Sitamadhi, Varanasi, Allahabad, Chitrakoot, Nasik Road, Hospate, Rameshwaram and Madurai, the Shri Ramayan Yatra covers Jaipur, Alwar, Rewari, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Moradabad, Bareilly and Lucknow. Shri Ramayan Yatra also gives tourists the option of visiting places related to the Ramayana in Sri Lanka.