In March 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated a significant project, the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Extension and Beautification Plan, marking a substantial upgrade since the renovations by Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar in 1780 AD. The main aim was to enhance accessibility for pilgrims, introducing a 320-meter-long and 20-meter-wide paved walkway. This innovative addition seamlessly links the iconic Kashi Vishwanath temple to the Ganges ghats, providing a transformative experience for devotees.
Exploring Historical and Cultural Significance: Kashi, known as one of the oldest living cities, holds a rich history mentioned in Vedas and Skanda Purana. Beyond being the birthplace of four Jain Tirthankars, it's significant for Sarnath, where Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon. The Ganga ghat, a literary haven, witnessed the creation of timeless works like Tulsidas' Ram Charit Manas and Hanuman Chalisa.
Kashi Vishwanath Corridor - A Monumental Cultural Revival: The Rs 700 crore Kashi Vishwanath Corridor, unveiled in December 2021, stands as a symbol of architectural brilliance and cultural preservation. Spanning 550,000 sq. ft, the corridor houses 24 buildings, including an emporium, museum, sacred kitchen, Vedic library, scripture storage center, city gallery, and a food court. Significantly, the corridor restores the ancient link between Maa Ganga and the temple, a connection disrupted by encroachments and construction over the years.
Highlights of the Project Unveiled:
A spacious 75-meter-wide paved corridor now directly connects Kashi Vishwanath temple to the sacred Ganga river.
The project area expanded significantly to an impressive 5 lakh square feet, a remarkable upgrade from the previous 3,000 square feet premises.
Over 300 properties were acquired, ensuring a holistic transformation of the surroundings.
Rediscovery, restoration, and beautification of over 40 temples occurred during property demolition, preserving historical and architectural treasures.
Guided by the architectural prowess of Bimal Patel, the project blends modern amenities with historical preservation.
In 2022, Kashi experienced an extraordinary footfall of over seven crore tourists, with the first quarter of 2023 recording over 1.8 crore tourists, showcasing the project's immense popularity.
Significance and Tourism Boost: The Kashi Vishwanath Temple and Corridor hold paramount significance, connecting the iconic temple to the Ganges ghats and standing as one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. This transformative initiative aims to boost tourism by providing pilgrims and travelers with wider and cleaner roads, well-lit lanes, and access to clean drinking water. It not only safeguards Kashi's rich cultural and spiritual heritage but also fosters a renewed connection between the revered Kashi Vishwanath temple and the sacred Ganga, drawing millions of devotees and tourists alike.