Unprecedented effort

Amal Chatterjee
9 min readDec 13, 2021

Source : Google photo of the renovated complex of the Vishwanath temple in Kashi inaugurated by PM Modi yesterday

Synopsis : When something happens after centuries of waiting and disappointment , it is rightly called historic because it changes the course of history in a grand manner like what has just happened in Kashi on December 13, 2021. Rarely a person comes to correct the historic wrongs done in the name of religion but that is exactly what has happened with the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath temple corridor yesterday. It will make Mr. Narendra Modi immortal .

Source : U tube video of the inauguration of the temple in Kashi

What happened yesterday December 13, 2021 in Kashi was unprecedented in the history of Hindu India and the person who made his dream project of Vishwanath temple complex renovation a reality was the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. The whole ceremony of the inauguration of the temple complex by Modi was telecast live around the world to show its importance that very few non Hindus will ever understand.

Kashi also known as Benares or Varanashi is the most ancient city that has been continuously lived in the world. Its written history dates back some 5000 years so Kashi is indeed a very very old city that is known as the abode of Shiva making it the holiest city to all Hindus in the world.

Source : Google photo of Mughal king Aurangjeb who destroyed Hindu temples and forced Hindus to convert to Islam.

But Kashi Vishwanath temple was attacked and ruined by the cruel and fanatic Moslem ruler Aurangjeb who had the temple desecrated and demolished to build a mosque in its place in 1669. The temple priest had jumped into a well carrying the Shiva linga in order to save it from destruction. It is not known if he died in the well.

The Hindus watched the desecration silently with tears but could not do anything to stop the heavily armed soldiers Aurangjeb had sent. He is known as the person who did the most damage to Hinduism by destroying their numerous places of worship and forcing the hapless Hindus to accept Islam with sword on their neck. In Uttar Pradesh alone that has a population of over 200 million has the most number of Moslems in India who were forcibly converted to accept Islam but they were all Hindus.

The looters and destroyers also came from Afghanistan for the pillage in the 12th century and many times later because they knew India as the Golden bird so came to loot, kill and desecrate famous Hindu temple of Somnath in Gujarat and others. That temple was looted and destroyed 18 times but now it has been rebuilt after the independence of India in 1947. The massive temple of Ram is also being built in Ayodhya where the mosque built by Baber after destroying the Ram temple there in 1527 was demolished in1992 by the Hindus.

Source : Google photo of Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar

Then in the year 1780 a valiant queen Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore who was a great devotee of Shiva renovated and rebuilt the temple as it stands today. In 1835 a great king called Ranjit Singh donated 1 ton of gold to cover the top of the temple that will blind you with its brilliance today as it did centuries ago.

Source : Google photo of Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Over the centuries following the desecration of the Vishwanath temple, people started encroaching on the temple land and built illegal houses that enclosed within their homes numerous very very ancient temples so they were completely hidden to the public. These beautiful and historic temples were discovered only when over 350 houses were demolished to create the space where the new temple complex was to rise. People were stunned to see these temples for the first time in centuries so the new corridor has now freed them and rehabilitated all of them to restitute them to their original form and glory.

One stolen image of Goddess Anna Purna was recently brought back to India from Canada and reestablished in the complex corridor.

Due to the encroachment of the temple land by the illegal settlers, it had made the access to the temple very narrow and difficult for the pilgrims to reach the temple of Shiva to offer their prayers and pooja. The access to the river from the temple was also very difficult because of all the illegal structures that are now demolished to make a wide access corridor . Now all pilgrims can bathe in the river and take the holy water of Ganga and walk up the stairs to reach the temple directly passing through the massive courtyard and through many ornate gates. All Hindus follow this ritual of first bathing in Ganga and then carry the Holy water to the temple and offer it to Shiva. Mr. Modi was not amiss in performing this ritual that the whole world watched on TV.

All the workers who had built the massive corridor toiling for over 2 years through the covid pandemic and the lock down but still working 24 hours a day everyday without break had assembled in one side to wait for their beloved Prime minister.

They could not imagine in their wildest dreams that he will come, bless them all with flowers and show his humility by sitting with them on the steps to talk to them and personally thank them for their effort and hard work. The workers were overjoyed and the whole world watched it. The invited guests watched in awe and learned a few lessons on how to be humble.

Old and people with disabilities are provided with facilities like elevators and walking escalators to reach the temple easily from the river. The huge space can now accommodate at any one time 100000 pilgrims easily.

The temple is surrounded by the gallery to show the history, prayers and Mantras etc inscribed on marble in black letters for everyone to read. There are bookstores for religious books and reprints of scriptures, visitor’s assistance center, food court, guest house and security offices that keep an eye on the entire complex through CCTV cameras. There are more than 20 such massive buildings in the complex , 4 main entry gates and the stone paved stairs all the way to the edge of the river. Pilgrims can now arrive in modern boats that run on CNG at the jetty and climb the massive stairs to reach the temple complex.

In the courtyard they can rest, pray or meditate, do yoga or simply sit on benches to soak in the majesty of the temple and bask in its glory for the first time in the history of Kashi.

The entire road from Godhowlia crossing to the main gate of the complex has been widened and paved with pink stones of Chunar. There are stone benches for the visitors to rest on all along the way and the entire street is well lit with light posts and the motor vehicles are blocked to enter the street by the electrically operated bollards that can come up or sink into the ground as the situation requires.

All the shops on both sides are painted in a uniform pink color making it now a very pleasant street to walk on without traffic and motor vehicles. The entire city of Kashi has been cleaned up, painted pink and with street lights . The overhead offensive wires are gone and the whole city is wired with fiber optic cables underground to connect to the Internet. Kashi is well on its way to become the Smart city.

Even the narrow lanes and streets reaching the temple are paved with new stones and both sides are painted with beautiful scenes of ancient India and the pictures of famous religious sadhus and rishis. The new drainage system, buried cables and clean stone paved narrow lanes are now all done making the lanes easily passable.

Kashi Railway station, new modern airport building, ring road around the city, numerous overpasses to ease the traffic and LED lighted streets , the new highways linking Kashi to other cities are now helping Kashi to become a modern city while preserving its ancient history and culture.

Near Kashi are the holy Buddhist shrines and stupas in Sarnath where Buddha meditated thousands of years ago. The access road to Sarnath and the entire complex is beautifully maintained to receive the faithful who come from all over the world.

In this video the Prime Minister inspects various development projects in Kashi personally starting at the temple complex.

Source : U Tube video Of PM Modi visiting Kashi projects that were recently completed .

Source : Google photo of the Chief Minister Yogi of Uttar Pradesh

The other person who helped in the fulfillment of all projects in Kashi including the Vishwanath corridor is the Chief Minister Yogi who is modernizing the whole state with new airports, new expressways, new hospitals, schools and colleges, modern railway stations, bus terminals etc. to get the State ready for the 21st century with the state of the art facilities. He is tireless like Modi and has reduced crime rate very significantly in the entire state.

I remember the time when I went to Kashi to visit the Vishwanath temple and bathe in the river Ganga at the Dashaswamedh ghat . I had to pass through very narrow lanes often obstructed by a nasty bull or a cow that roamed freely and bothering everybody. The gutters overflowed but one could smell the scent of flowers and joss sticks near the temple . The shops were selling anything you wanted but mostly catered to the pilgrims and their needs like flowers and joss sticks or sweets. I offered my pooja and came out because no one was allowed to linger there due to the crowd pressing you on all sides.

I saw the playful dolphins that swam near the ghats and wondered why no one protected them in my home town where there were plenty of them always playing near the Fort. The Kashi dolphins are safe from poaching because people are now more aware and protect them. May be they will multiply and spread to other parts of the river.

I found a simple room and a wooden bed with a dirty mattress on it because I could not afford a fancy hotel room so I was like most pilgrims who come to Kashi from all over the country. I understand that this has changed now. Many new guest houses have been built that are clean, modern that offer you very good service, good food and place to stay at low cost. Kashi food is excellent and cheap.

Source : U tube video of the modern Khirkiya ghat in Banaras

Kashi is changing fast . Its residents are blessed with a benevolent government that is pouring millions of dollars to develop it. Khirkiya ghat, Lalita ghat, Manikarnika ghat and many others are being developed to make them modern. Paved with pink stones of Chunar and LED light illumination makes them attractive for the tourists now.

If you just visit the Vishwanath temple corridor, you will know what I mean. The river water is clean and the dolphins still play there. You will arrive in Kashi in a superfast modern train and wonder at the airport like railway station and proceed to Godhowlia from where you may walk on the newly paved wide and well lit street that looks like a London street and arrive at the temple.

There you will stand spell bound at the massive main gate and wonder what it was like before . You will be better off not knowing.

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Originally published at http://aumolc.wordpress.com on December 13, 2021.