About two dozen newly constructed ghats on the Kshipra river on which the state government spent crores of rupees in the run-up to Simhastha have failed to attract pilgrims, who are mostly flocking to the ancient ghats to take a holy dip.
The water resources department has built 24 new ghats along a 3-km river stretch and also renovated a dozen existing ghats, spending Rs 159 crore on the entire project, officials said.
Only Rs 7 crore was spent on the construction and renovation of ghats during the 2004 Simhastha.
However, pilgrims seem to prefer Ram Ghat, Triveni Ghat and Datt Akhara Ghat over other ghats such as Kabir Ghat, Prashanti Dham Ghat and Sunheri Ghat, which are thinly crowded even during the peak hours.
Ram Ghat, the most ancient bathing ghat located near the Harsiddhi Temple, attracts the maximum number of pilgrims. On April 22, the day of first ‘Shahi Snan’, pilgrims were seen arguing with policemen to let them allow taking a dip at this ghat even though it was reserved for sadhus that day.
On the other hand, the sadhus were upset with the administration for allowing some pilgrims to take a dip at Ram Ghat during Shahi Snan.
“Ram Ghat is the most sacred of ghats and has a special religious significance. We expect the administration to have a better coordination on the day of second Shahi Snan (May 9),” Akhara Parishad president Mahant Narendra Giri said.
Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that most pilgrims want to take a holy dip at Ram Ghat even though it is most crowded. “It is a matter of belief and tradition. Most pilgrims head straight to Ram Ghat and don’t even stop at other ghats,” said an official.