The religious towns of Hazratbal in Jammu and Kashmir and Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan are among the 25 cities including Ayodhya that the Narendra Modi government has selected for revamp under PRASAD scheme. The Centre aims to turn these cities into biggest religious tourist destinations like the Vatican City and Jeddah.
It is not just Ayodhya that will get a facelift under the Narendra Modi’s ambitious religious tourism promotion scheme, cities like Hazaratbal, Amritsar and Ajmer will also be revamped along with 21 others.
The Centre has zeroed in on 25 ‘spiritual’ cities for a revamp, Union Cutlure Minister Mahesh Sharma said.
Mahesh Sharma said, “Under PRASAD scheme, earlier, there were 13 cities but now we have selected 25 cities which have got spiritual values. Just like Vatican City or Jeddah due to religious and spiritual values, a lot of domestic and international tourists visit these towns.”
THE SELECTED ‘HOLY’ CITIES
The government has identified 25 sites or cities for revamp under the National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) scheme.
Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have three cities each under the Prasad Scheme. Bihar, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir have two cities each.
In Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Assam, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and West Bengal have one city each that will be revamped under the Prasad scheme.
The cities are:
- Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh)
- Amritsar (Punjab)
- Ajmer (Rajasthan)
- Ayodhya (UP)
- Badrinath (Uttarakhand)
- Dwarka (Gujarat)
- Deoghar (Jharkhand)
- Belur (West Bengal)
- Gaya (Bihar)
- Guruvayoor (Kerala)
- Hazratbal (Jammu and Kashmir)
- Kamakhya (Assam)
- Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu)
- Katra (Jammu and Kashmir)
- Kedarnath (Uttarakhand)
- Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)
- Patna (Bihar)
- Puri (Odisha)
- Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh)
- Somnath (Gujarat)
- Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh)
- Triambakeshwar, Nasik (Maharashtra)
- Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)
- Varanasi (UP)
- Velankanni (Tamil Nadu)
WHAT ‘MISSION PRASAD’ WILL DO
“Our vision is that to ensure holistic development of all these places. We propose to have cleanliness, sewerage, road connectivity, hotels in these cities,” said Maheash Sharma.
This scheme is proposed to be implemented in a Mission Mode.
Prasad scheme will focus on:
- Integrated development in a planned prioritised and sustainable manner
- Follow community-based development and pro-poor tourism concept in development of the pilgrimage destinations
- Creating awareness among the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of increase in source of income, improved living standards and overall development of the area
- Promoting local arts, cultural, handicraft, cuisines, apparels etc
- Identifying religious destinations that have potential to be showcased as world class spiritual tourism products
- Creating a framework for classifying infrastructure gaps in the identified destinations and unlock major roadblock that have curbed the potentials of these places
- Development of these destinations in a specific timeframe ensuring full convergence of state and central government as well as private investments