Since this morning, several Hindus have expressed outrage at the news of a so-called Namo Ghat coming up in Varanasi, believing it was a sign of Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s megalomania that he asked the local authorities to develop a place named after him.
Others thought if he did not order it, the local authority must have, with this gesture, behaved like a sycophant. Neither is true. It’s a misinterpretation.
This spot on the bank of the Ganga is actually called Khidkiya Ghat. To represent the devotional aspect of Varanasi, the local authority built three large sculptures in the gesture of a ‘namaste’, but they never renamed the place. They were the locals who, on seeing the monstrous structures, began referring to this ghat as Namo Ghat.
Some years ago, Prime Minister Modi had turned down a fan who was building a temple devoted to him, a source in the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out, adding, “He would never do such a thing like turning himself into an object of worship.”
The inauguration of the Modi temple in Rajkot, Gujarat, had been cancelled in February 2015 after Prime Minister Modi slammed his supporters involved in the construction of the temple, saying he was “appalled”.
However, Prime Minister Modi may inaugurate the renovated ghat in his Lok Sabha constituency soon, according to the official. The Rs 34-crore project, which is nearing completion, will become the 85th ghat in Varanasi.
“It is in sync with modernity while the traditional ethos has been maintained,” the official said. The ghat is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for the tourists. A cafeteria, platforms, paintings on the walls showcasing heritage of Kashi are there. The ghat will help decongest Dashashwamedh Ghat, he said.
The sculptures of palms joining in the gesture of a namaste or pranaam, greeting the sun, has become the new identity of the ghat. The two statues, one 25-feet-tall and another smaller one 15-feet-tall, were salutation to the Ganga, he said. “There is also a proposal to install a similar 75-feet-tall metal sculpture at the ghat,” the source informed Sirf News.
The chief general manager of Varanasi Smart City, Dr D Vasudevan added to the information, saying the local authority was developing the ghat in an area of about 21,000 sq m. He said the project was in line with the prime minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ initiatives, as the goods employed in the construction were entirely of Indian origin.
Here tourists would get a view of Subah-e-Banaras and can participate in the famous Ganga aarti, he said.
News agency PTI adds that tourists “would be able to enjoy water adventure activities and have space for walking, exercising, and yoga,” citing the chief general manager.
There will also be an open theatre, library, food court serving Banarasi cuisine, a multipurpose platform to organise various events and a helipad, the officer said.
A ramp, right up to the river, has been built for people with disabilities and the elderly.
Kashi Vishwanath Dham tickets for ‘Sugam Darshan’ would also be available here and pilgrims would get the facility to go to Kashi Vishwanath Dham by boat from the jetty, he said.
A floating CNG station for CNG boats has also been built at the ghat to make Ganga pollution-free. There would also be a facility to visit other nearby cities through a cruise, he said.