PM Modi visits Kedarnath, says decade belongs to Uttarakhand
PM in Kedarnath: Modi praised Uttarakhand chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and said the way the state government was working for development meant the third decade of the current century will belong to the state.
More pilgrims will visit Uttarakhand over the next decade than in the past century and the rapid development in the hill state will reverse the outward migration of young people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday while on a visit to the Kedarnath shrine.
Modi also inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of projects worth ₹409 croreat Kedarnath, months before Uttarakhand goes to the polls. It was his fifth visit to Kedarnath after becoming Prime Minister and the first of his second term.
“The third decade of the century belongs to Uttarakhand. Take it from me. I am saying this from a holy land,” Modi told a gathering at the temple, where he performed Rudrabhishek puja before unveiling a 12-feet and 35-tonne statue of Adi Guru Shankaracharya, an 8th-century spiritual leader and philosopher. A live telecast was carried from the sanctum sanctorum of the temple where he performed the puja.
He cited the under-construction Char Dham all-weather road and the Rishikesh-Karnaprayag rail link projects and hailed the development agenda of the state government, which is run by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP),
He said new facilities at Kedarnath will make the Char Dham Yatra, a pilgrimage to the four holy Hindu shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, easier for the pilgrims. “The protection wall constructed near the Mandakini river will prevent a 2013 like tragedy (floods) and will make the yatra secure. Also, the lodging facilities developed for the pilgrims will also provide more comfort to the pilgrims. Not only this, the permanent accommodation constructed for the priests of the temple will solve their problems in the bone-chilling cold.”
Modi referred to the damage caused to the temple by the 2013 floods, which killed over 4,000 people, and added that he always believed Kedarnath would rise once again. The floods were triggered by a cloudburst, few kilometres above the temple.
“The damage caused during the tragedy was unimaginable. I was then the chief minister of Gujarat...came here after the tragedy and witnessed the pain of people.” Modi said people were then asking whether Kedarnath will be able to rise again. He added he had a firm belief in Lord Shiva that his temple will once again rise. “I am fortunate that the land which raised me when I was nothing has now given me the opportunity to serve it with the reconstruction works which are being done with the blessings of Lord Kedarnath.”
Modi asked people to visit sacred places and those related to the freedom struggle. “We are celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav (marking 75 years of independence) in which people are encouraged to visit historical places related to the country’s independence. But I want to urge them to visit sacred places like Kedarnath to make the new generation aware of the centuries-old ancient and glorious spiritual and cultural heritage of India,” he said.
Modi spoke about Shankaracharya’s contribution to spiritual enlightenment. “When the country was losing its unity, Adi Guru Shankracharya, at a young age, visited various parts of the country along with his pupils to spread spiritual enlightenment and unify the country religiously. His principles are relevant in today’s age.”
The PM said India was getting back its lost spiritual glory with the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and development work in Varanasi, including the Kashi Vishwanath corridor.
“Not only this, significant works are being done at Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and other sacred Buddhist places to create a Buddhist pilgrimage circuit. Once completed, it will help in attracting thousands of Buddhist pilgrims and spiritual leaders.”
Modi commended the Uttarakhand government for completing 100% first dose vaccination against Covid-19.
Dhami thanked Modi for the reconstruction and development work. “Under his leadership, reconstruction and development work worth ₹225 crore has been completed under the first phase in Kedarnath while those worth ₹185 crore would soon be completed under the second phase.” He added ₹245 crore has been approved for development work in Badrinath temple and hundreds of crores more for the Gangotri and Yamunotri shines. Dhami thanked Modi for his “special love for Uttarakhand.”
The opposition Congress, meanwhile, launched a scathing attack on the Prime Minister for “crossing boundaries by allowing live telecast from the sanctum sanctorum of Kedarnath temple”.
“We welcome PM Modi to visit the highly sacred and revered Kedarnath temple. But the way he breached its sanctity with a live telecast of him performing puja at its sanctum sanctorum is highly condemnable. He broke the age old customs of the temple and crossed the boundaries of our faith with his act,” Congress leader Harish Rawat said.
“We expected him to announce some relief package for the Kumaon region which was affected by the recent floods in October in which at least 77 people were killed. But we were utterly disappointed when he did not make any such announcement,” he added.