Kashi Vishwanath Dham: A dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Navya Singh

The mega project aims at improving the connectivity between the Kashi Vishwanath temple and the ghats along the river Ganga.

On Monday 13th December 2021, honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the first phase of ₹ 339 crores- ‘the Kashi Vishwanath project’ with a ceremony named “Divya Kashi, Bhavya Kashi”. Known to be his dream project in his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi, the corridor prepends to connect the ancient Kashi Vishwanath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva into the ghats on the river Ganga. With an aim to revolutionize the privations faced by pilgrims, the inauguration of this contemporary infrastructure near Dashashwamedh Ghat precedes the UP government assembly polls averred to happen early this year.

The foundation stone for the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor project was laid in the year 2019 with a budget of around ₹ 800 crores. The corridor is spread across a sprawling area of about 5 lakh sq feet in order to decongest and transform the entire temple complex. Phase-I of the complex accommodates 23 buildings. Multiple facilities have been released for the pilgrims including Yatri Suvidha Kendras, Tourist facilitation centre, Vedic centers, Mumukshu Bhavan, Bhogshala, City Museum, Viewing Gallery, Food court among others.

Kashi, conventionally known for its congested aisles, is said to be one of the most coveted spiritual centers in the country. It is deemed as a central place in pilgrimage, death, and mourning in the Hindu world. The city also has a syncretic tradition of Muslim artisanship that underpins its tourism. This amelioration of the infrastructure is foreseen as a boost to tourism in the holy city as well as in the region, including the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Sarnath. More than 300 properties around the temple had to be procured in order to successfully operate the project. Beyond 40 ancient temples have been recouped during the work on the project ensuring no commotion to the original framework.

While addressing the people PM Modi said, “India today had begun to come out from the effects of slavery. The long period of slavery broke our self-confidence in such a way that we lost faith in our own creation. Today, from this 1,000-year-old Kashi, I call upon every countryman — create with full confidence, innovate, and do it in an innovative way,”

Prime Minister also highlighted the key aspects of this entire venture –

  1. He said that the premises of Kashi Vishwanath Dham is not just a grand ‘Bhavan’ but a symbol of India’s ‘Sanatan’ culture & traditions.
  2. He called for three solutions – cleanliness, creation, and continuous efforts – leading to a self-reliant India.
  3. He also acknowledged the contribution of each and every hired hand as the work persisted without any rest amid the pandemic.
  4. The Prime Minister further said that “Today, a new chapter is being written in the history of Kashi Vishwanath with ‘Virasat’(heritage) and ‘Vikas’ (progress) in the new India.

After offering prayers and a holy dip in the river Ganga he worshipped the Kaal Bhairav temple. Upon his arrival in Varanasi, he then took a double-decker boat to Lalita Ghat from  Khirkiya Ghat to visit the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

With the presence of Chief Ministers of 12 states and deputy CMs of 9 states, Shri Yogi Aditynath, the honorable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh stated that the temple ought to be introduced as a new “Dham” worldwide. He further added that this project will grant a novel and universal identity to the spiritual capital of India (Varanasi).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi actively participated at all stages of the project. He vested great interest by constantly giving inputs and insights to improve the business and make it more accessible for pilgrims and devotees of Lord Shiva, especially those with disabilities. His vision to take everyone along was the principle based on which mutual negotiations were done for these acquisitions, noting that around 1,400 shopkeepers, tenants, and homeowners were rehabilitated amicably. He delightfully thanked the people of Kashi, who gave their properties saying, “this is the biggest ‘daan’ they have given for Baba.”

Approximately 70 lakh devotees and tourists visit the Kashi Vishwanath Temple every year with a daily footfall of 10,000 mostly from Varanasi and adjoining areas. The core essence of the project is to provide ease of access to these devotees, the elderly people, and those with different abilities with the provision of ramps, escalators, and other modern facilities. The mega project enthralls to advance the tourism, heritage, and connectivity within the city.