Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday braved the December chill and took a holy dip in the Ganga river before formally inaugurating the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor complex.
The Prime Minister reached the Kaal Bhairav temple first and offered elaborate prayers. ‘Kaal Bhairav’ is known as the first deity of Varanasi and also known as ‘Kashi ke Kotwal’.
He then went to the banks of the Ganga river and waded into waist deep water to take the holy dip. He offered prayers to the Sun God and the Ganga River. He also collected the waters of the holy river for the ‘Jal Abhishek’ at the temple.
Locals gave a rousing welcome to Modi, showering flower petals and raising slogans of ‘Modi, Modi’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’.
The Prime Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Varanasi, will inaugurate the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor constructed at a cost of around Rs 339 crore.
The buildings will provide a variety of facilities to the pilgrims visiting the temple, including yatri suvidha kendras, tourist facilitation centre, Vedic kendra, Mumukshu bhavan, bhojshala, city museum, viewing gallery, food court, among others.
The project, whose foundation stone was laid by the Prime Minister in 2019, connects the main temple with Lalita Ghat. Grand gateways and ornamental arches have been built in heritage architecture style in four directions, facing the ancient temple at its core.
The project involved the purchase and acquisition of more than 300 properties around the temple. Nearly 1, 400 shopkeepers, tenants and homeowners were rehabilitated amicably to pave way for the construction. Around Rs 450 crore was spent on the purchase of buildings.
During demolition of buildings to pave the way for the project in 2018, over 40 ancient temples were found buried under the layers of concrete and plaster. They have now been conserved and made part of the project.
The project is now spread over a massive area of about over five lakh square feet while the earlier premises was limited to just around 3, 000 square feet.
The architect of the project is Bimal Patel, who is also in charge of the Central Vista redevelopment project in New Delhi. He said that without tampering with the original structure of the temple, beautification work was carried out and world-class facilities had been put in place.
About 70 per cent of the 5.50 lakh square feet area of the project has been kept for green cover.
Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi since 2014, has been decorated ahead of the mega event titled ‘Divya Kashi, Bhavya Kashi’.
Facades of buildings located on streets leading to the shrine have been painted in uniform light pink colour and illuminated.
A grand Kashi will be seen after crores of years now. Ayodhya is progressing with Ram Temple.