The nine years of the Narendra Modi government have seen development on many fronts – economic, social and cultural. The Prime Minister, who proudly calls himself a Hindu nationalist, has made special efforts for the revival of India’s ancient temples. The building of a large Ram Temple in Ayodhya is part of the same efforts. However, it is not only the PM’s personal inclination towards spirituality, but also his far-sightedness – to gradually develop India’s religious tourism industry.
Here’s a brief look at Prime Minister’s visit/efforts to boost religious tourism:
1. Kashi Vishwanath
In 2019, the BJP government acquired around 400 buildings and houses for the reconstruction of Kashi Vishwanath temple. Later in 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor in the heart of Varanasi, a mega project with the expectation to boost tourism in the ancient city in a big way.
2. Somnath Temple
Gujarat’s Somnath Temple, which was attacked and plundered several times by Mohammad Ghazni’s army, has been rebuilt multiple times, which also includes PM Modi’s Somnath temple complex’s beautification. PM Modi is also the incumbent chairman of Shree Somnath Trust (SKT), the religious trust which manages and maintains the Somnath temple complex.
3. Kedarnath Temple
Following the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, PM Modi launched a renovation project for the Kedarnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. In several interviews, PM Modi has mentioned that Kedarnath is his favourite stopover.
4. Ram Mandir in Ayodhya
During 1990s, Narendra Modi played a role of an organiser of LK Advani’s countrywide rath yatra. However, he played a much vital role after the BJP government came to power at the centre. After a series of legal and political battles, PM Modi laid the foundation stone of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya in August 2020.
5. Char Dham Project
The Modi government launched Char Dham project which aims to provide all-weather connectivity to four holy towns in the state — Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. The project includes 900 km national highways which will connect whole of Uttarakhand state. PM Modi laid a foundation stone of Rs 12,000 crore project at Parade Ground in Dehradun. Modi himself has been monitoring the project via video-conferencing and also taking real-time live updates through drone cameras.
6. Temple Revamp in Kashmir
After the annulment of Article 370, the BJP government administered by PM Modi launched renovation works at several temple complexes in the Valley including Srinagar.
7. Temples Abroad
Over the years, PM Modi laid foundation for several temples abroad. During his visit to UAE in 2018, he laid foundation for a Hindu temple, which is a first for the country.
In 2019, he started a multi-million-dollar revamp project of a 200-year-old temple, Shreenathji temple in Bahrain’s Manama.