Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor in Varanasi on December 13. The project, worth approximately Rs 800 crore, is one of the key projects that the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath-led Government of Uttar Pradesh wants to showcase ahead of the assembly elections in the state early next year.
The Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi Deepak Agarwal shared the details of the project in a press briefing. “It has been built over a sprawling area of 5,000 hectares, the corridor has decongested the temple complex, which was earlier surrounded by buildings on three sides. The project will connect the two things Varanasi is well known for the Kashi Vishwanath Temple (KVT) and the Ganga river.”
Giving out the details of the project, Agarwal further explained that when the project was conceptualised, it was considered an impossible thing considering the dense structure of the temple premises. However, with the organised and dedicated efforts of both the Centre and the state governments, despite two waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, the entire process is being completed in record time with utmost transparency.
“To start with, the Kashi Vishwanath Special Area Development Board (KVSADB) was entrusted with the task of planning and execution of the project. The project was taken forward on a war-footing basis right from getting the properties vacated to compensating the owners,” the Divisional Commissioner said. The execution of the project was done in the most transparent manner, as a result of which the project faced no litigation, he added.
The demolition of buildings around the temple led to the recovery of at least 40 very ancient temples. All those ancient temples were buried under other construction around them and people had built kitchens, bathrooms and much more atop those temples. Centuries-old ancient temples, earlier hidden, are now visible and they will be preserved and opened to the public.
Another area of concern was a direct link between Kashi Vishwanath Temple (KVT) and the Ganga river. Now with a direct link between the temple and the Ganga river, one can reach the temple premises within minutes, without going around in the lanes. This will give Kashi Vishwanath Temple complex a brand-new look and more space. Once situated in the congested space among the surrounding buildings, the temple complex will now have an area of its own.
The architect of the project, Bimal Patel, informed that without tampering with the original structure of the temple, along with the beautification, the facilities for the tourists have been increased.
“The work includes the construction of Temple Chowk, Varanasi city gallery, museum, multipurpose auditoriums, hall, devotee facilitation centre, public convenience, salvation home, Godowlia gate, Bhog shala, shelter for priests and sevadars, spiritual book space, and others. About 70 per cent of the 5.50 lakh sqft area of the project would be kept open for the green cover,” informed Patel. Bimal Patel went on to say that PM’s vision was to enable devotees to take water from Ganga to the temple and we worked to reorganize the temple premises to restore its grandeur.
The Divisional Commissioner further informed that a total of nearly Rs 800 crore has been spent on the entire project which includes Rs 70 crore which was spent on the rehabilitation of people living in the said area.
Giving out the details, Agarwal added that, “Even during the time the construction was going on, no entry was prohibited to the site to enable transparency and public participation.”
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation of the corridor in March 2019. Over 300 buildings were purchased and demolished to create the space for the project. The Uttar Pradesh government constituted the board to expedite the work on it. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has inspected the work on it three dozen times.
The idea is to preserve existing heritage structures, provide new facilities in the temple complex in the public-private partnership (PPP) mode, ease the traffic and movement of people around the temple and connect the temple with Ghats with direct visibility. Hundreds of small temples have been made a part of the corridor.
The project ensures easy pedestrian movement for pilgrims with the least wait, travel and walking time, and comfortable holding zones, as well as crowd management and emergency operational procedures and better experiences around the religious rituals.