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KASHI VISHWANATH CORRIDOR: Top Snack, Falhari sellers, Silk Traders Erupt In Joy, Won’t Hike Prices As Gesture To Aid Govt & Tourism

| Updated : December 13, 2021, 8:39 pm
Updated : December 13, 2021, 8:39 pm

VARANASI:  The frenzied rush to the centuries-old Kashi Vishwanath Temple is just getting bigger during the last few days.

Outside Kashi Chaat Bhandaar, on the stretch between Gadaulia to Dashsavamedha Ghat,  that sells city’s firm favourite – Tamatar chaat, Palak Patta chaat and Chura Matar — visitors with smeared foreheads arrive in scores. 

They laugh, joke over endless trays of fast food with piping hot tea.

Rakesh Kesri, owner of iconic Kashi Chaat Bhandar in Varanasi.

 


“You see these people? Can you distinguish from their smiles that they are locals from Varanasi or other parts of India?,” asks Rakesh Kesri, owner of iconic Kashi Chaat Bhandaar.

“Mahadev has blessed upon us for last few years. First the ghats got cleaned, now the Kashi Vishawanth corridor looks so expansive that entire Varanasi can come and stay for the love of Lord Shiva. It has connected us with Ganga again. Tourists walking on clean roads, ample space to pray and meditate, no more fights over parking. That’s how we wanted to welcome tourists. So why should we increase the rates of our gourmet delights ever when we get such good development free of cost like the corridor and clean ghats. That’s how economy can progress,” he says.

Locals of the city are in a state of disbelief with so much of attention here. They insist they are now competing against visitors to see the glimpse of the the corridor.

Make-up artist Riya and her husband arrive on a two-wheeler at a chat Bhandar after paying obeisance at Rs 800-crore Kashi Vishwanath corridor that houses temple that was once demolished by Aurangzeb.

 

“I am just returning from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Whatever I saw today was an amazement, I couldn’t believe my eyes that I grew up here all these 30 years without such spectacle. It’s a miracle to see this corridor becoming in just three years. It’s my Kashi. Tell me is it possible to beat the BJP and development agenda of PM Narendra Modi and Yogi Adityanath now,” says Riya, a make-up artiste, who arrived on a two-wheeler to the shrine.

There are those who have travelled from far-flung areas of western Uttar Pradesh to combine their business  and family trips to catch up with inauguration ceremony.

“The spaces were cramped, stains and filth desisted us from discovering our own state for 40 years. Yet I would come frequently to pay a darshan. But today, I can proudly come here as a devotee of Baba,” says  Neeraj Pandey from Amroha.

Traders say that market rates for the land in the vicinity for Kashi Vishwanath corridor would increase but they would not jack up prices for their wares like the local chef de oeuvre of Banarasi silk sarees.

“Weavers may have raised their prices. But over the years we have only marginally increased our prices. Our Banarasi sarees from Rs 700 to Rs 7000 and silk sarees go up to Rs 12,000. We understand that development is taking place, but we wouldn’t to fleece tourists considering government is doing so much for our welfare,” says Mohan Mishra, manager at Thakur Brothers Silk Sarees shop in Varanasi.

Professionals and leading businessmen of the city too concur that fast-paced development including 34-bed aesthetically designed Mahamana Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Cancer Center in Varanasi – reminiscent of Ghats, Rudraksh Convention Centre that has been designed like a Shivalinga with a seating of 1200 people, with 108 Rudrakshas on its façade; Godowlia Multi level parking and Panchkosi Parirkama Road (for

devout pilgrims) apart from Ro-Ro Vessels for tourism development on River Ganga and three-lane flyover bridge on the Varanasi-Ghazipur Highway and 47 rural link roads of 153 km, at a cost of Rs 111 crore are part of new identity of the iconic city of Uttar Pradesh.

“The problem earlier was that Akhilesh Yadav government just believes in laying foundation stones and never completed projects. They incorrectly used the tagline : Kaam bolta hai. When the entire work whether that of development or religious sites are being done by Modi and Yogi,” says Dr BL Gupta, who comes from Chetganj, in Varanasi as he picked on gol gappas with his wife at a chaat store.

Such is the excitement over launch of Kashi Vishwanath corridor that retail shop owners of falhari (milk-based and other products used as devotional offerings) too insist that they would keep their prices intact.

Girish Chandra Gupta, owner of falhari and divine offerings near Kashi Vishwanath Temple.

 

“Kya karenge daaam badake? Shudhatha hi guarantee (Only guarantee is that of purity of our products and devotion. When government is doing enough for our welfare, why should we burden customers buying their offerings from us with extra charges?” Girish Chandra Gupta,  owner falhari shop, on the way to Kashi temple.

The UP government is of course euphoric on the success of mega projects and big-ticket infrastructure launches in Varanasi.

As the New Indian visits the ground zero in Varanasi , we discover that LED screens have also been placed at six locations across the city. 

“These screens display important information on the city for tourists and locals alike, including its history, architecture and art, and also provide information of significant benefit for devotees. The broadcast of the famous Ganga Aarti and the aarti of the Kashi Vishwanath temple is being done through the screens throughout the entire city through big screens, thus helping people witness the divine moments even if not physically present. Varanasi has become wireless now, with underground wiring established in the city, which was an ambitious project and unprecedented in India, as it is an old city,’ says Varanasi district magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma.

“Besides, the Integrated Command and Control (ICC) Centre for traffic and police management system, and medical emergencies has been operationalised. This ICC centre also proved to be of great help during the pandemic as it served as a node of coordination between various administrative departments and arranging logistics simultaneously,” points out Navneet Sehgal, additional chief secretary, information and public relations, Uttar Pradesh government.

There is a sound and light show at Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath. Varanasi has also been provided with ‘smart signages’ with Quick Response (QR) code. 

“These signages give information to visitors and tourists alike about cultural importance of heritage sites and the 84 iconic ghats of the city which are known for their antiquity and architectural beauty. Sculpture signages have also been installed at the Assi ghat and Khidkiya ghat, providing information about various events like Ganga Arti at  Dashashwamedh ghat, annual Naag Nathaiyya event at Tulsi ghat,” says Awanish Awasthi, additional chief secretary home who oversaw major projects in UP.

(Photos & Videos by Aditya Ravi)


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