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The transformation of Kashi, the Modi way

When it was announced that Modi ji would contest polls from Varanasi, he came here on his first visit to the Kashi Vishwanath temple and paid his obeisance. While coming out of the temple, he said, the one who is the lord of the world — Vishwanath — living in such claustrophobic condition, is a pitiable sight.

When the time of action came, Modi ji gave clear instructions to come up with an architecture that was commensurate with the spiritual and religious vibes of the place. He said devotees had a hard time visiting the place and the design of the pathways and access roads and entry points must be redrawn in a way that they are not inconvenienced in any way while visiting the abode of the lord.

Diesel boats were running all across the Ganges in Varanasi to ferry devotees and tourists to the ghats and temples. This caught Modi ji’s attention and he suggested all boats should be run on clean fuel like CNG to stop pollution caused by the black smoke of age-old diesel-run boats. This step instantly cleared the air of Varanasi, reducing pollution levels to a major extent.

Most importantly, Modi ji had clearly instructed us that the transformation of Kashi had to be done only after taking the people into confidence. His buzz words were cooperation and not coercion, coordination and not conflict.

Also, Modi ji told us at the outset that whoever was being displaced to make way for the temple or ghat rejuvenation must be compensated adequately. Interestingly, by the time the project came to an end, there was no pending application to disperse the compensation amount. This transparency and professionalism instilled faith and confidence in the people.

It was also our task to ensure that the heritage was not tampered with, especially the ancient temples on the way to the main temple. They had to be decorated and beautified, and restored where needed, but the original structure and location had to remain intact. Special lighting has been put in place according to the PM’s instructions so that the temples look grand at night in the play of light and shade.

Modi ji’s dream was to get the water of the Ganges to meet Lord Vishwanath. A system of mechanised showers has been put in place which ensures a perennial and automated supply of water from the holy river over Vishwanath at the temple’s ‘Garbha Griha’. It is a neat and smart way of observing an important ritual.

Also, for the first time, spic and span tourist facilitation centres have been established at crucial points for proper crowd management as well as ease of visit for devotees. These centres have clean toilets and washrooms, lockers, changing rooms, token and ticketing systems and nice food and clean water on offer.

The transformation of Kashi didn’t just change the outlook and experience of the people of Kashi but also presented a different picture to the world. From the dirty narrow streets shadowed by hanging jumble of wires and crowded ill-maintained ghats today it has changed into a clean, green & organised temple city in line with best tourist management practices followed anywhere in the world.

Baba Vishwanath Dham now stands out as a template to be imbibed to transform other places of religious significance into such epitomes of spirituality and devotion.

Success story of Charanka & Modi magic - Shankar Chaudhary, Speaker, Gujarat Legislative Assembly

Narendra Modi’s leadership is marked by his ability to think beyond the ordinary. At a time when Gujarat was aspiring to be a power surplus state and alternative energy sources were limited in India, he established Asia’s largest solar park in Charanka, Gujarat.

Through this project on barren land near the international border, his goals were several, including making Gujarat a solar power hub, uplifting an underdeveloped region, curbing migration for employment, and even addressing national security concerns.

Charanka is in the far corner of Rann and no one went there even in the day, so isolated and far off it was. It was Modi ji who first thought of a solar park there. Years ago, when he first pitched the idea of a solar park, we were amused and asked him what the hell was it. He said it is a system in which power is produced by using sunlight.

At that time we had very little and vague idea of what solar power is and deep inside, no one was willing to believe that such a solar park could be materialised. The Congress even lodged a strong protest, saying it was only an election stunt and power can’t be produced from sunlight.

Ultimately, Modi ji’s conviction led to the fruition of this dream. Charanka saw the setting up of the largest solar park in the whole of Asia. The whole region was transformed once the project came up. Modi ji was not only instrumental in its success but also laid out the design and planning of every nook and corner of the whole system. Such was his involvement and interest in the programme.

Thus with one stroke of his vision, he served several purposes — i.e. improving the living standard of the people, promoting businesses in the region, securing the borders and solving the power requirements.


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