As the passion for a grand temple at Ram Janma Bhumi in Ayodhya gripping the national psyche, Congress dispensation in Chhattisgarh is contemplating to get its piece of pie from the possible outpouring of national and global pilgrimage by flaunting its Rama connection.
Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel is very keen to see the tribal-state in the itinerary of Indian tourists and pilgrims, has been personally overseeing projects related to proposed Ram Van Gaman Path or Rama forest passage. Baghel enthusiasm, however, may have few takers in the Congress brass with left leaning Gandhi scions have so far only displayed their displeasure over Ayodhya temple plan.
Chandkhuri, a sleepy village on the outskirts of Raipur, it is widely believed, is the place where Lord Rama’s mother Kaushalya was born. Villagers have been worshipping in the temple dedicated to Kaushalya since time immemorial. Several projects have been earmarked as part of renovation of this age-old temple. Baghel and his family members offered prayers at this ancient shrine today.
The chief minister instructed the officials to build a circumambulation path, a well-furnished Dharamshala and toilets along with the strengthening of the bridge passing through the pond here. The brainchild of erstwhile Raman Singh-led BJP government ‘Rama forest passage’ could not pick up pace in his 15 long years in office. Now the push for this lingering event has come from an unexpected quarter, the Baghel government.
Unlike Bhupesh, his left leaning father Nand Kumar Baghel had declared recently that he will burn the effigy of Rama if people do not stop burning the demon king Ravana, who he believes was an aborigine as against ‘invader’ Aryan Rama.
‘Ram Van Gaman Path’ has been identified after various researches and the government intends to develop these places as pilgrimage and tourist centres, government sources say. Kaushalya was born at Chandkhuri village near Raipur and derived her name from her place of birth ‘Kosal’, believes Mannu lal Yadu, one of the researchers. Rama spent at least 10 years at various places in Chhattisgarh while traversing through the Dandkaranya forests on his way to Panchwati and Lanka, most Hindus believe.
Government has earmarked an outlay of Rs. 137.45 crores for the Ram Van Gaman Tourist Circuit. Government is contemplating to build all-weather approach roads, civic amenities, tourist facility centres, Vedic villages, pagodas, waiting sheds, interpretation centres, restaurants and waterfronts in these places as part of first phase of elevation programme. It will not only attract a large number of devotees and tourists from across the country but would be a great fascinating point for the people of Chhattisgarh.
These places include Sitamarhi-Harchowka in Koriya, Ramgarh in Sarguja, Shivarinarayan in Janjgir-Champa, Turturiya in Baloda Bajar Bhatapara, Chandkhuri in Raipur, Rajim in Gariaband, Sihava in Dhamatari and Jagadalpur in Bastar district.