Tourists flock to Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

Tour operators report 10-20 pc increase in tourism to Varanasi


January 13, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Tourists flock to Kashi Vishwanath Corridor

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kashi Vishwanath corridor on December 13, 2021 (Photo: PIB)

With the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath devotees and tourists are curious how the renovation of the temple premises panders to the devotees under the project. With boom in the tourism industry despite the looming threats of Omicron, especially in Spiritual Tourism, travellers are opting visit one of the oldest cities in India, Varanasi to pay a visit and seek blessings of Lord Vishwanath.

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Varanasi or Banaras is one of the oldest living cities in the world and is amongst the most important pilgrimages for devout Hindus. The city also figures prominently in various Hindu spiritual texts and of course in the mythology. Thus, it has for long attracted a lot of visitors, not just the pilgrims, but also those curious about Hinduism. American writer Mark Twain was mesmerised by the city when he visited India in late 19th century and wrote, “Banaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice of old as all of them put together.”

The city dates back to the 11th century BC and over the centuries, a sharp rise in population led to haphazard construction, making the city highly congested and unorganised. Today, Varanasi counts over 1.2 million people living in a mere 82 sqkm area. Added to that are millions of pilgrims and tourists that come here every year. As a result, moving within the city is a nightmare.

Thus, a recent redevelopment of the city centre, with the most prominent spiritual spot, the Kashi Vishwanath temple, as its focus has found favour with the residents and visitors alike. The first phase of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is an MP from the city, in December 2021. As the inauguration came with a wide media coverage, it created a buzz among the residents, tourists and devotees alike.

Tour operators say that the new development has created a renewed demand by tourists to visit the city, notably the corridor and the Kashi Vishwanath temple, that is one of the most famous Hindu temples in the country. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the holy trinity Gods in Hindu mythology. The temple is situated on the western banks of the holy river Ganga and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity in the temple, one of the many forms of Shiva is, Vishwanath or Vishveshvara translating to ‘Ruler of the Universe.’

Each year, on January 1, places of worship such as the Kashi Vishwanath attract a lot of footfall with devotees paying their obeisance to the Gods and Goddesses. Tour operators say that Kashi experienced a lot of footfall for the day which was evident from the crowd who attended the Jalaabhishek, a ceremony of bathing Lord Shiva with honey, ghee, milk and Ganga Jal.

“We have witnessed a 10% growth in traveller interest to visit the holy Kashi Vishwanath corridor since its inauguration. In addition to spiritual tourists which remain the majority, we have also witnessed strong interest amongst millennials and young professionals to explore the destination,” Daniel D’souza, President and Country Head, SOTC Travel tells Media India Group.

“Spiritual tourism is witnessing an uptick with Indians keen to invoke blessings for the new year with diverse segments like families, senior citizens, millennials and working professionals opting for religious sojourns. There has been an increase of around 10 pc in demand for Kashi since the inauguration and we see potential with both the Sarnath Temple in proximity and the recently launched boat cruises covering the ghats,” says Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited.

For some tour operators, the growth in tourism to Varanasi has been even greater. “Roughly more than 20 pc growth has taken place in tourism towards Kashi Vishwanath. Not only that people who are visiting Kashi are also visiting Ayodhaya. The growth could have been more but due to Omicron it has stumped a little bit,” S Mahalingaiah, director of Skyway International Travels, Bengaluru, tells Media India Group.

“Tourism has definitely increased since the inauguration by Modi. For the New Year’s Eve, devotees travel to the Kashi Vishwanath temple seeking blessings from Shiva. This year we saw a tremendous increase in the crowd which have come to be a part of the Jalaabhishek. People were curious to see what kind of new arrangements and provisions were placed after the inauguration,” says Shiv Shankar Shah, Managing Director of Laavanya Tours and Travels, a tour operator based in Uttar Pradesh.

“Generally, you expect religious people above the age of 45 to be the main visitors to the temple, but this year we saw an increase in the tourists of age group 19 to 35. We are witnessing more movement of children towards the temple. Apart from that speaking about the class, tourists from the middle class are more prominent amongst those visiting Varanasi,” adds Shah.



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