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Kashi Vishwanath Corridor – A Dream Project of PM Narendra Modi
Kashi has always been a central part of PM’s development programs. The Prime Minister had taken several steps in the development of Kashi. From cleaning the river Ganga to the construction of roads, his motto “Swachh Kashi Sundar Kashi” literally showcases the important steps taken by the PM.
The Kashi Vishwanath corridor is the dream project of Mr. Narendra Modi. He monitored the construction process of this corridor. PM Narendra Modi also had a 3-D structure of the Vishwanath temple. Using this 3-D model, he was monitoring the entire building process of the corridor during the time of the pandemic.
The construction work was done without any looseness and thus the project was completed at the estimated time period.
A Glance to the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
The Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project was initiated on 8 March 2019, and the building cost of this project is 339 crores. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is responsible for evaluating each level of the project personally. The Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor is spread in an area of 5 lakh square feet. However earlier the temple premises were limited to only 3000 square feet. Therefore, about 50000 -75000 devotees can enter the temple premises without creating a crowd.
The constructed corridor is 75 feet wide which connects the temple premises directly with the Lalita ghat. The temple is now visible from the ghat, people can take water from the river Ganga and offer it to God. The architectural project was headed by Bimal Patel.
The lightening of the temple adds a different level of beauty to the temple. The blue theme lighting is done in order to keep the heritage of the temple alive.
After the successful completion of this project, phase I of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on 13 December 2021.
Aim of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
The main purpose behind the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor was to provide the devotees with a convenient way to worship the god. People can now take bath in the holy river and through a direct route to the temple they can easily worship the god.
For the convenience of senior citizens and physically disabled people, an escalator facility is also available. Therefore, people will not have to face the heavy crowd to enter the temple. However, the beauty of the temple is preserved. No tempering is done with the architecture of the temple. The corridor is constructed by keeping the ancient sculptures undisturbed.
Kashi – The City of Saints and Temples
Kashi is the ancient city of India and is considered among the seven Moksha Puris. It is located in the state of Uttar Pradesh on the bank of the holy river Ganga. Kashi is now known by other names like Banaras or Varanasi. Kashi is famous for its rich culture, tradition, and spirituality. The lands of Kashi are considered pure, people believe that dying in the land of Kashi and cremating at the river Ganga will help them to achieve ‘Moksha’.
In Rigveda, the collection of Sanskrit hymns was called ‘Kashi’, that’s how the city got its name which depicts the ‘city of lights’. The name ‘Varanasi’was taken from the river Varuna and Assi ghat.
Kashi is famous for its ghats. Dashashwamedh Ghat, Assi ghat, Harishchandra ghat, Manikarnika ghat, etc are among the famous ghats of Kashi. Ramnagar fort, Kashi Vishwanath temple, Sankat Mochan temple, Bharat Mata Mandir, Sarnath, TulsiManas Mandir, etc are the famous places visited by the tourists. The famous university, BHU (Banaras Hindu University) is situated in Kashi, now Varanasi.
Kashi is the land of many famous writers like TulsiDas, Kabir Das, and Ravidas. Other notable artists of Kashi were Bismillah Khan, Girija Devi, Sitara Devi, LalmaniMisra, etc.
Vishwanath Temple – Golden Temple
One of the oldest temple of Lord Shiva is Kashi Vishwanath Temple, situated in Varanasi. It is among one of the twelve Jyotirlingas. The Kashi Vishwanath temple is situated on the bank of river Ganga in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Every year millions of devotees register their arrival in this temple. The main deity of this temple is ‘Vishweshwara’ (lord of the universe) another name of Lord Shiva.
Kashi is mostly famous for the Vishwanath temple. On average, the temple receives almost 3000 visitors every day. The temple is located in the congested lane of the Vishwanath Galli located near the Dashashwamedh ghat. The Jyotirlinga in the temple has a circumference of 90 centimeters with a height of 60 centimeters. The three domes of the temple are surrounded by many other shrines of God.
Annapurna (Goddess of food) temple is situated near the Vishwanath temple. It was constructed by Peshwa Bajirao in the 18th century. The Kaal Bhairav temple is also situated near the Vishwanath temple. It is one of the oldest temples of Varanasi whose exact construction date is not known.
Most of the devotees take bath in the holy river Ganga and then move to the temple to worship God. But due to the excessive crowd and lean routes, people found it difficult to visit the temple properly. This led to the idea of reconstruction of the temple premises.
Reviving History of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple
At the time of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Raja Man Singh built the temple of Kashi Vishwanath. In 1585, the temple was further built by Raja Todar Mal. This temple was destroyed many times by the Mughal emperor. The last time it was destroyed was by the sixth Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He constructed the Gyanvapi mosque at the site of the Vishwanath temple.
However, the final structure that we have today was constructed by Ahilya Bai Holkar, a Maratha queen in 1780. After that, it was managed by the government of Uttar Pradesh in 1983. People from different parts of the country visit Varanasi to worship Lord Shiva. The temple holds another level of beauty that attracts tourists in a large amount.
In 1835, one ton of gold was donated by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sikh empire for the plating of the temple’s dome. Later, silver was donated to the temple by RaghujiBhonsle III of Nagpur.
Challenges in the Construction of Corridor
Only dreaming of something will not help you to achieve the goal, you also have to be well prepared for the consequences. Similarly, the decision to build the corridor had involved various secondary issues. However, it was not an easy job to construct the temple corridor. There were many difficulties in the path of construction.
The major challenge was space. Varanasi is the oldest city with an unplanned locality structure. The congested lanes of the area created many hurdles during the construction work. It was also the main concern that the sewer lines or supply of the electricity is not harmed.
Due to the overcrowded population near the temple, it was very difficult to rehabilitate people and property. About 1400 people and shopkeepers along with various properties were shifted. Another problem was the negotiation; it was not an easy task to convince people to shift. Other problems like many buildings belonging to the religious bodies or the owners are not available at the moment were also included.
Another challenge was to rebuild the temple premises without affecting its beauty and culture. Besides this construction process, another major concern was that the entry of the devotees should not be interrupted. However, the emergence of the Corona pandemic added another challenge to this task.
Other Expected Changes
To boost the tourist attraction in the Kashi, various other plans are also implemented. The Ganga cruise will be started for tourists. Led screens would be placed everywhere that will represent the art and culture of the Kashi. It will help tourists to understand the history and architecture of the city.
There will be an air-conditioned waiting hall in the Banaras (formerly as Manduadih) railway station. The Vishwanath temple aarti and the Ganga aarti will be shown on screens throughout the city.
Corridor – The Complete Project
Along with the construction of the corridor, 23 new buildings were also constructed for the convenience of tourists and other devotees. The temple now has the following facilities:
- Temple Premises: The temple premise is the center of the tourist attraction. Seven gates were constructed. The use of various stones and marbles provides a good look at the temple.
- Yatri Suvidha Kendra: Under the YatriSuvidha Kendra, there will be a security check and locker facility for the devotees in the Vishwanath temple.
- Shopping Complex: Now the premises will have shops of necessary things that are required in worship. This will also increase business and employment.
- Varanasi Gallery: The Varanasi gallery is spread in an area of 375 square meters. It is situated near the Varuneshwar Mahadev mandir between the city museum and the multipurpose hall.
- City Museum: This building is situated in 1143 square meters and is situated between the MumukshuBhawan and Varanasi Gallery. It is constructed with the aim to provide information to the visitors regarding ancient things (antique).
- MumukshuBhawan: The mumukshu bhawan covers an area of 1161 square meter. This building is created for the elders and unhealthy devotees. It contains wards and beds. For their convenience lifts and escalators are also built.
- Vedic Center: The Vedic Center is spread over 986 square meters. It is constructed for the organization of various spiritual events, functions, and ceremonies.
- Guest House: The Guest House is created for tourists who want to stay. It covers an area of 1962 square meters.
- Multi-purpose Hall: It is situated near the Manikarnika crossroad and covers an area of 976 square meters. It can hold upto 200-300 people at a time. It is basically constructed to carry out public service works. It also has the facility of an escalator.
- Tourist FacilitationCenter: The main aim of the tourist facilitation center is to construct a hall in the Manikarnika ghat to arrange woods and other things. It will be the center for all the pilgrims coming to the ghats.
- Toilet block: Toilets are constructed for the convenience of tourists.
- Food Court: It holds the sitting arrangement for the pilgrims where they can sit and enjoy the meal.
- Book Stall: It is situated near the Varanasi Gallery and City Museum. It covers an area of 311 square meters which holds the bookstalls containing spiritual books and other stalls.
- Ganga View Cafe: The View Cafe will help tourists as well as other pilgrims to enjoy the beautiful view of the holy river Ganga. The cafe will allow you to enjoy food in a pleasurable environment.
Other Facts Related to the Corridor
- About 300 nearby buildings were acquired and purchased during this project.
- 40 temples were found during the reconstruction process. This includes the Jau Vinayak temple, Manokamneshwar Mahadev, Gangeshwar Mahadev, Shri Kumbh Mahadev temple, etc.
- The buildings on the path of the temple are colored light pink to show spirituality.
- This project was also criticized by many people due to the demolition of many old buildings on the path.
- The Prime Minister clicked with the workers and thanked them for their contribution.
- The Prime Minister also had lunch with construction workers and laborers who were involved in the making of the corridor during the inauguration process.
- The corridor now has seven grand gates.
- Different types of stones and marbles are used in the reconstruction process.
- A booklet along with 8 lakh packets of Prasad was distributed in the houses of Varanasi.
- About 70 percent of the project area has been kept for green cover.
- At the premises of the temple, a rudraksha tree was planted by PM Narendra Modi.
- The temple premises are secured with about 30 cameras.
The Story Behind the Scene
The dark side of this project shows people’s suffering due to rehabilitation. The process of shifting people is not that favorable. Shifting someone’s residence means shifting their complete habitat. They will obviously face many difficulties. Compensating them in place of their residence, occupation, work, etc is not enough. Now they have to find a new home as well as a new occupation.
It seems like the construction of the temple corridor is shifting people’s vision from a devotional place to a tourist place. Most of the implementations have been done to enhance the tourist’s attraction which is somewhere fading the original spiritual existence.
Poor and beggars are the others who will suffer the most. They will not be allowed to enter the temple premises. Thereafter, the small shopkeepers whose shops have been removed have to find another way of living.
Another point to be noted is the investment made in the organization of this inauguration program. The inauguration process could be carried out without investing huge money. This reflects that the government is using the money for unnecessary purposes. However, the danger of Covid is still in the country. But the inauguration program does not show any kind of fear and restrictions among the visitors.
How to Reach the Temple and Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
Varanasi has good connectivity with other cities by roads, railways, and airways.
By Train: You can reach Varanasi through trains. There are three railway stations namely Varanasi junction (BSB), which is the nearest railway station at a distance of about 4 km only.PT. DeenDayal UpadhyayaJunction (DDU) at about 14.5 km, and Banaras railway station (BSBS) at a distance of about 5 km.
By Road: Varanasi city is located on the NH2 highway. The city has direct transportation to other cities like Allahabad, Patna, Kanpur, Lucknow, New Delhi, Kolkata, etc.
By Air: The nearest airport to the temple is theLal Bahadur Shastri International Airport, Babatpur. It is situated at a distance of about 25 km from the temple. The flights from this airport have direct connectivity with some major cities likeDelhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, etc.
Timing of the Temple
The temple opens at 2:30 in the morning and closes at 11:00 pm. Visitors are allowed to worship from outside the shrine after 9:00 pm. October to March is considered the perfect time to visit the temple.
Darshan timing: Devotees can worship God from 4:00 am to 11:00 am. However, rituals are performed in between and again the darshan is open from 12:00 to 7:00 pm.Again, the devotees can worship God from 8:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Aarti timing: The morning starts with the Mangal Aarti from 3:00 am to 4:00 am. 11:30 to 12:00 noon is the timing for Shringar Bhog and Aarti. Then Saptarishi Aarti from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, the last aarti of the day is performed at 10:30 pm, which is the Shayan Aarti.
Devotees can no longer have to wait in a long queue, ‘Sugam darshan’, a process that will allow you a queue-free and hassle-free darshan. This will be beneficial for disabled people, people who do not have time, or people who can’t wait long in the queue.
You will have to book yourself by paying a fee of Rs 300 per person. No ticket is required for children under the age of 12. After booking, a Shastri will accompany you and guide you in the darshan process. Along with, free locker and prasad will be provided to the devotees.
The booking counter or help desk is located near the Shapuri Mall. However, there are some conditions like you have to book yourself at the counter, call booking for darshan is not allowed, darshan at the time of aarti is not allowed. Bookings can be done for the same day only, no reschedule is available.
You can book aartis, Rudrabhishek, Yatra, and other Pujas. Most of these bookings can be done online, so you can book yourself and pay the charges accordingly.
Prime Minister’s Scheduled Visit
On 13 December 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to inaugurate the Kashi Vishwanath corridor. Along with the corridor, 23 other buildings were inaugurated by the Prime Minister.
On 13 December, around 12 noon, the Prime Minister visited Kaal Bhairav Temple. After that, he visited the holy river Ganga. He took the river water to the temple for ‘Jal Abhishek’. He visited the Vishwanath temple and worshiped God, then the inauguration program was held.
In The evening, Narendra Modi attended the Ganga Aarti at the Dashashwamedh Ghat from cruise accompanied by the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
The next day, on 14 December, he attended the 98th-anniversary celebration of the Sadguru Sadafaldeo Vihangam Yog Sansthan at SwarvedMahamandir in Varanasi.
At Banaras Locomotive Works (BLW) campus, a conclave was attended by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with the Chief Ministers of the BJP-ruled states.
Preparation of the Inauguration – Divya Kashi Bhavya Kashi
Various preparations were organized on the occasion of the inaugural program of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor. Varanasi is expected to celebrate the occasion the whole month, starting from 13 December to 14 January.
The whole city was enlightened with the diyas. All the ghats were decorated, especially the Dashashwamedh Ghat, near which the corridor is situated. Rangolis were made by the Govt.Teachers and other peoples which adds another star to the beauty of the ghats. Government Employees and Local Police were engaged in properly maintaining and handling the programs.
Bhajan Sandhya, a musical program was organized from 12 to 21 December at the Dr. Rajendra Prasad Ghat. The program was held from 5 pm to 9 pm. Various famous singers like Anup Jalota, Anuradha Paudwal, Ankit Batra, Suresh Wadkar, Lakhbir Singh Lakkha, Rekha Bhardwaj, Kavita Seth, Tripti Sakya, Sharma Bandhu, and Hansraj Raghuwanshi were part of the program.
Guests of the Inauguration Program
Around 3000 guests attended the inauguration ceremony of the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor. This includes many political leaders, chief ministers, BJP officials, priests, and other dignitaries. Ascetics and saints from other jyotirlingas also attended the ceremony.
Famous spiritual and religious leaders including RameshbhaiOza, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Jagat guru Shankaracharya, MorariBapu, Sadhvi Ritambhara, Mata Amritanandamayi, Avadhesananda Maharaj, etc attended the ceremony.
All the ministers of the Uttar Pradesh Government, and the chief and deputy chief ministers of BJP-ruled states were present. Chief Ministers of thirteen states Goa, Haryana, Punjab, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh with Deputy Chief Ministers of Bihar and Nagaland were the part of the program.
BJP chief J.P. Nadda, Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav, former party vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev, etc enlisted their presence in the inauguration program.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions about Kashi Vishwanath Corridor
Ans. Bimal Hasmukh Patel, president of CEPT University (Ahmedabad) is the architectural head of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor.
Ans. The Varanasi corridor is located between the Chowk and The Dashashwamedh Ghat in Vishwanath Galli, Varanasi.
Ans. The remaining work of phase II includes a gate at Jalasen ghat, Ganga viewing gallery with ramp for physically disabled devotees, boundary wall, etc.
Ans. The second phase of the Varanasi corridor construction is expected to be completed by the end of February 2022.
Ans. Makrana marble, Mandana stones, Baleshwar stones, kota granite, and red stones from Chunar, have been used in the construction of the Varanasi corridor.
Ans. Vishal Singh, CEO of Kashi Vishwanath Trust is the project incharge of the corridor.
Ans. The stolen statue of Annapurna temple is found on 11 November 2021 after more than 100 years ago from Canada.