A year after unveiling the 51-foot-tall statue of Lord Ram and inaugurating the first phase of the Ram Van Gaman tourism circuit in Chhattisgarh, nine sites are being revamped to boost pilgrimage tourism.
Under this, at least 25-foot-tall statues on 16-foot-tall platforms will soon be installed at other sites in the state as well. Chhattisgarh will become the only state to have installed nine statues of Lord Ram. It all began last year when the concept plan for the tourism circuit by the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board amounting to Rs 148.99 crore was initiated.
The work of sculpture, lamp pillar, Ramayana Interpretation Centre, tourist information centre, cafeteria, dormitory, cottage, drinking water facility, public toilet, meditation centre, modular shop, temple beautification and renovation, etc., has been done so far.
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WHY IS LORD RAM REVERED IN CHHATTISGARH?
To put things in perspective, India Today reached out to PRO of the Tourism Ministry Anuradha Dubey. She said, “Shri Ram is not only about faith, but he is an ideal way of life. From India to many countries of the world, Shri Ram is worshipped as God, but Shasya Shyamala Bhoomi of Chhattisgarh, being the birthplace of mother Kaushalya, worships Shri Ram as a nephew too.”
“Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, but Chhattisgarh is his Karmabhoomi. During the difficult exile of 14 years, he took shelter in Chhattisgarh. It is believed that during the exile period, while travelling from Ayodhya to Prayagraj, Chitrakoot Satna, Lord Ram reached Dakshin Kosal i.e. Bharatpur in Koriya district of Chhattisgarh and crossed the Mawai river and entered Dandakaranya. After reaching Sitamarhi – Harchouka, which was a natural cave temple built on the banks of river Mavai, he took rest,” Dubey said.
She further added, “This was considered Lord Ram’s first stop during exile. Many incidents of Ramayana took place in the holy land of Chhattisgarh, evidence of which can be found in folk culture, folk art, legends and folklore.”
“To develop important places for pilgrimage tourism, in the first phase, nine sites – Sitamarhi – Harchowka, Ramgarh (Sarguja), Shivrinarayan – Kharaud (Janjgir-Champa), Turturia (Balodabazar), Chandkhuri (Raipur), Rajim (Gariaband), Saptarishi Ashram – Sihawa – Nagari (Dhamtari), Jagdalpur (Dalpatsagar, Chitrakot, Tirathgarh, Bastar) and Ramaram (Sukma) – have been marked.”
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WORK DONE SO FAR
1. Under the development work during the first and second phases in Chandkhuri – construction of the Jyot room, lamp pillar, VIP lounge and bridge has been done. Furthermore, beautification of Jal Sen pond and ghat, installation of the Lord Ram statue and landscaping have also been done. In the third phase, which is underway, construction of dormitories, cottages, modular shops, cafeteria, temple renovation and preparation of water, light and sound show, is being done. After the development work in Chandkhuri, the number of tourists and devotees has increased by about 5,000 per week, due to which the sources of income have also increased, along with the increase in employment opportunities.
2. The beautification of the ghat under the first phase of development work in Shivrinarayan has been done. In addition to this, kiosk construction on the ghat, the setting up of the Ramayana Interpretation Centre, and the construction of a cafeteria, parking lot and modular shops have also been completed. The renovation and beautification of the Math temple has also been done. Since the beautification, the main temple has become a centre of attraction for tourists and devotees. The work on the second phase in Shivrinarayan is underway.
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3. A target has been set to complete the work in Chandkhuri (Phase III), Shivrinarayan (Phase II) and Rajim by December 2022.
4. A 25-foot idol of Lord Ram will be installed in Champaranya.
5. The entire project is slated to be completed by 2023.
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