Devotees describe Kashi corridor as grand & opulent; some say much heritage lost in process

  • | Tuesday | 14th December, 2021

Varanasi, Dec 14 (PTI) A large number of devotees from different parts of the country thronged the Kashi Vishwanath Dham on Tuesday, a day after its inauguration, with some describing the experience as "grand" and "opulent" and others lamenting that "much heritage has been lost" in the process of its redevelopment. From Maharashtra to Odisha and Uttarakhand to Tamil Nadu, visitors kept streaming in to witness the "Kashi Vishwanath Baba" in a new avatar, with much excitement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday dedicated to the people the first phase of the ambitious project -- Kashi Vishwanath Dham -- which has been constructed at a cost of around Rs 339 crore. The project connects the temple premises to the River Ganga, in addition to providing several facilities to devotees. Pushpagandha and Sujit Kale, a couple from Nasik, arrived in the temple town on Tuesday, along with their little son and four other family members. "After taking a holy dip in Ganga in the morning, we visited the temple in the afternoon. It is our first visit to Kashi and witnessing the Kashi Vishwanath temple in such a grand form was a divine experience. Everything is so opulent. Previously, I had heard the area was very congested, I had seen it in videos too," she told PTI. Pushpagandha, an advocate, said she had heard so many stories about Kashi and the temple, and "finally fate brought me here". "We are heading to Prayagraj (Allahabad) tomorrow," she added. Atul Gupta, who visited the temple premises along with brother Shambhu and grandfather Shiv Gupta, were ecstatic to see "so much space" around the ancient temple. "It is unbelievable. In my previous visits, we couldn"t see much as there were so many buildings around it. And, I am happy to see that new structures around the temple have been built in an old architectural style," he said. The Guptas hail from Odisha, and Shambhu, who proudly flashed his "Mahakal" tattoo on his right arm, said, "Similar corridor work is also going on around Jagannath Puri temple to facilitate devotees." Visitors from Ballia, Dehradun, parts of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have been constantly streaming in at the new complex, being called Kashi Vishwanath Dham. They termed it "grand and opulent". Many who had come before December 13 did not known that Modi was slated to inaugurate it. But, many devotees and regular visitors were not happy after seeing the ancient shrine in its "new form". Kolkata-based businessman Amitabh (63), his wife Aditi (55) and daughter Ahona (21) were visiting the temple after a gap of six years. "We come to Benares often. During the pandemic and a few years before that we had not visited it. I remember the small, old temples which were adjacent to the main temple or around it in the area. An ancient place should have ancient structures intact. In the name of creating space and decongesting streets, one can"t sacrifice one"s built heritage," Amitabh Mitra lamented. "I am totally shocked that in the name of development they have destroyed so much heritage that existed earlier," he alleged. Daughter Ahona Mitra, a university student, said, "Even I miss the old heritage buildings which existed, they are gone. The old dharmashalas, houses, some of which were over 200 years old, are also gone, washed away in the corridor. Thank God, at least, they have used traditional craftsmanship to build new ornamental gates and other structures around the temple." Lalji Yadav, 72, who resides in a lane leading to Manikarnika Ghat here, alleged, "So many heritage buildings got lost in the corridor project. People lost their homes." Foreign tourists used to come just to see the main temple and other architectural beauties. Now only domestic tourists who are on a spiritual tour will come, he said. The project had also drawn criticism from various heritage experts, given a large number of old buildings were demolished to make way for the corridor that also provides a direct link from the temple to the Ganga River. Prime minister Modi had laid its foundation stone on March 8, 2019 and had also observed that it was difficult to take people into confidence to give up their properties and ensure the project did not take political colour. During the inauguration ceremony, Modi had termed the city of Kashi as "avinashi" (indestructible) and asserted that a "new history" was being created and "we are fortunate to have witnessed it". Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, on the eve of the inauguration, had said that "under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kashi Vishwanath Temple"s cultural and spiritual glory was being restored". Early December, the architect of the project, Bimal Patel, had said the original structure of the temple had not been tampered with while developing the site, and added that apart from beautification of the area, tourist facilities have been enhanced. About 70 per cent of the 5.50 lakh sq ft area of the project have been kept for green cover, he said, adding, "We worked towards fulfilling the prime minister"s vision of reorganising the temple premises to restore its grandeur." Varanasi Divisional Commissioner Deepak Agarwal had earlier said that 40 ancient temples were found following the demolition of buildings around the main temple. These centuries-old temples which were earlier hidden are now visible. They will be preserved and opened to the public, he had said. PTI KND SMN SMN

If You Like This Story, Support NYOOOZ



Your support to NYOOOZ will help us to continue create and publish news for and from smaller cities, which also need equal voice as much as citizens living in bigger cities have through mainstream media organizations.

Stay updated with all the Varanasi Latest News headlines here. For more exclusive & live news updates from all around India, stay connected with NYOOOZ.

Related Articles