Kashi has seen sultanates rise and fall, is a symbol of India’s soul, says PM Modi

Modi calls for three solutions — cleanliness, creation and continuous efforts — towards a self-reliant India

Updated - December 13, 2021 10:11 pm IST

Published - December 13, 2021 02:06 pm IST - Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Kashi Vishwanath Dham temple in Varanasi, on Dec. 13, 2021 ahead of inauguration of Phase 1 of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Kashi Vishwanath Dham temple in Varanasi, on Dec. 13, 2021 ahead of inauguration of Phase 1 of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor project.

After a dip in the Ganga and rituals inside the temple, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated the Kashi Vishwanath corridor that connects the temple to the banks of the river, terming it a “symbol of Sanatan culture of India” and placing it at the centre of the sacred geography of the country.

He said India today had begun to come out from the the effects of slavery.

“The long period of slavery broke our self-confidence in such a way that we lost faith in our own creation. Today, from this 1,000-year-old Kashi, I call upon every countryman — create with full confidence, innovate, do it in an innovative way,” Mr. Modi said.

Today’s India had both “virasat” (heritage) and “vikas” (progress), he said.

Also read: Traders welcome business boom around Kashi temple

“Today’s India not only beautifies Somnath temple, but also lays thousands of kilometres of optical fibre in the sea. Today’s India not only renovates Kedarnath temple, but is preparing to send Indians to space. Today’s India is not only making a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, but is also making medical colleges in every district. Today’s India is not only giving the Vishwanath temple a grand look, but making crores of houses for the poor,” Mr. Modi said.

Photo-op with construction workers

On a two-day visit to his Lok Sabha constituency of Varanasi, Mr. Modi was greeted by supporters who had lined up on the streets. After taking a dip at Lalita Ghat, he made his way up a red carpet to the newly constructed corridor, carrying a vessel of water from the holy river as an offering. After the rituals, Mr. Modi had a photo-op with construction workers who had worked on the project, where he showered flower petals on them.

Addressing a gathering of around 3,000 people, including Hindu religious heads from across the country, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, BJP president J.P. Nadda and other party functionaries, Mr. Modi said it wasn’t until now that “this much work” had been done for Kashi, after Maratha queen Ahilyabai Holkar’s efforts to rebuild the temple in the 18th Century.

He spoke of the important place that Varanasi or Kashi held through history, resisting the onslaught of invaders. He said the city was witness to the atrocities of Aurangzeb, but the soil of India was different from rest of the world.

“If an Aurangzeb comes, then so does a Shivaji. If any Salar Masood comes, then brave warriors like King Suheldev make him taste the might of India’s unity. And during British rule, the people of Kashi know what happened to Hastings,” he said, adding that Kashi had seen “sultanates” rise and fall.

Laying the foundation stone for a Maharaja Suheldev memorial in Bahraich earlier this year, Mr. Modi had said the contributions of the legendary king, who was believed to have defeated a nephew of Mahmud of Ghazni, had been ignored till now.

Sentences from Tamil, Kannada

Speaking a few sentences in Tamil, Kannada and in a local dialect, Mr. Modi said the Kashi Vishwanath temple was dear to people across the country. Varanasi had been the city where Adi Jagadguru Shankaracharya got the inspiration from Dom Raja to resolve to unite the country, he said. The Doms, a so-called low caste community, have historically carried out cremations at the ghats of Varanasi.

He said it was also the city were Goswami Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitmanas and Lord Buddha’s enlightenment was revealed to the world in Sarnath, near Varanasi. It was also the land of four Jain tirthankaras, he said.

Mr. Modi said for him, every Indian was a part of God so asked all to make three solutions — cleanliness, creation and continuous efforts — towards a self-reliant India.

Taking a dig at critics, Mr. Modi said some people had doubted that Varanasi could see any change when he first became its MP in 2014. He said whenever Kashi took a new turn, it changed the fate of the country.

Earlier, the U.P. Chief Minister said the development of the corridor was the next step in a series starting with the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. The corridor, which was started in 2019, was carried out after demolishing around 300 buildings, making a wider path from the river to the temple. Mr. Modi said the number of pilgrims who visit the temple would increase, with the space increasing from 3,000 square feet to 5 lakh square feet.

Estimated to cost ₹800 crore, the portion of the corridor opened on Monday was the first phase of the project. The gateway to the river and the steps going to the ghat would be completed in the coming months, according to district officials.

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