Updated: December 14, 2021 7:18:46 am
The Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor, which has revamped and renovated the temple premises and its link to the Ganges, is a testament to a resurgent nation bridging its ancient civilisation and modernity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here Monday after he inaugurated the Rs 339-crore project in Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency.
Barely weeks ahead of the poll notification in Uttar Pradesh, Modi reiterated his pitch for the simultaneous development of infrastructure and religious places as integral to progress of the “new India”.
“The India of today is not just beautifying the Somnath temple, it is also laying thousands of kilometres of optical fiber in the sea. The India of today is not just rejuvenating the Baba Kedarnath temple, it is also preparing to send Indians to space on its own. The India of today is not just building Lord Ram’s temple in Ayodhya, it is also opening medical colleges in every district. The India of today is not just making the Baba Vishwanath temple grand, it is also making pucca houses for hundreds of poor people,” Modi said.
Detailing features of the temple corridor, the PM urged the nation to take three resolutions — cleanliness, creation and continuous efforts towards Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).
He also congratulated the UP government, and described Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath as a “karmayogi” for completing the project. And hailed the contribution of Punjab to the temple’s early development while referring to Guru Nanak’s visit and Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s donation of gold.
Referring to Mughal emperor Aurangzeb while speaking about how Varanasi has endured the travails of time, Modi said: “Invaders attacked this city, tried to destroy it. History is witness to the atrocities and terror wreaked by Aurangzeb. One who tried to change civilisation on the strength of the sword, who tried to trample culture ruthlessly. But the soil of this country is a little different from others. Here, if an Aurangzeb comes, then a Shivaji rises. If some Salar Masud tries to advance, then heroes like Raja Suheldev remind him of the strength of our unity.”
He also referred to Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of Bengal, and recalled “stories from the people of Kashi” on how he left the city.
Speaking about modern India, the Prime Minister said that moving ahead will be tough if the country is not swachh (clean). Referring to Varanasi, he said more efforts will be required and that cleanliness in the city and its ghats has to be taken to a new level.
On the corridor project, he said that several ancient temples that had become extinct have been re-established. Pointing out that devotees, especially the elderly, faced problems in reaching the temple earlier, he said: “After completion of the Vishwanath Dham project, it has become convenient for everyone to reach here.”
He said the elderly can use the ghat jetty to arrive on boats and take the escalator to reach the temple complex. “Now 50,000-75,000 devotees can visit the temple and temple premises… first the darshan and bath in Ma Ganga, and from there directly to Vishwanath Dham,” he said.
Referring to Punjab’s role in the development of the temple, Modi said that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had donated gold for plating its “shikhar”, and Guru Nanak had come to Varanasi for “satsang”. He said that other Sikh gurus had a “special connection with Varanasi”. He also highlighted the contribution of Rani Bhabani from Bengal and others from southern India.
Earlier, Modi showered flowers on workers and other staff involved in the project and had lunch with the labourers who were part of the construction work. He expressed gratitude to them saying they had not let the Covid pandemic get in the way of their work.
The Prime Minister had laid the foundation stone of the project on March 8, 2019. The project was conceptualised to create an easily accessible pathway for pilgrims. Over 3,000 dignitaries, including seers and priests, artistes and other noted personalities along with chief ministers of BJP-ruled states were present at the inauguration.
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