In order to restore the Kashi Vishwanath temple to its ancient glory, some 400 families were removed (and compensated) to establish a corridor between the shrine and the sacred river. Coming with a price tag of almost US$ 80 million, the project has great political and cultural significance for the BJP. With a capacity of 50,000 to 70,000, it “will give a decisive direction to India,” PM Modi said.
Varanasi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday inaugurated the first phase of a 320-metre-long corridor that connects Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath temple to the Ganges, the sacred Hindu river.
Modi, who strongly backed the project, represents a constituency in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, where a state election next February and March will be a crucial test for Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
To build the sacred corridor, many buildings near the temple were torn down and at least 400 families evicted and compensated for their loss.
In total, the Indian government allocated 6 billion rupees (about US$ 79 million), half of which was spent on purchasing the land and compensation.
For the corridor’s builders, the goal is to restore Kashi Vishwanath’s ancient glory, and turn one of the most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva into a large sacred area along the banks of the Ganges.
Once completed, the project will include a museum, a library, a reception centre for pilgrims and a home for seniors.
The corridor obviously also has political and cultural significance for the BJP, which has wrapped itself in the flag of Hindu identity.
During the ceremony Modi claimed to have turned a 3,000 square foot temple into an area of 500,000 square feet (over 150,000 square metres), with a capacity of 50,000 to 70,000 people.
“The dedication of Kashi Vishwanath Dham will give a decisive direction to India and will lead to a brighter future,” Modi said. “This complex is a witness of our capability and our duty. With determination and concerted thought, nothing is impossible.”