OBJECTIVE

  • 1. To identify the active role of the Subah-e-Banaras as an event to facilitate new age tourism.
  • 2. To forecast the impetus of the pilgrimage and heritage tourism post Kashi Vishwanath corridor construction.

METHODOLOGY

Primary and Secondary data have been collected because of their general nature in the field of tourism research. Participatory observation was used in order to collect the primary data whereas the secondary data were availed by the government and various research organizations; the local administration and the Subah-e-Banaras committee were a great help in the collection of secondary data. Participatory obseivation conducted was rigorous and continuous in nature as the few of the visitors were unknown to both the language that is Hindi and English. In order to observe the instant reaction of the tourist, we were present throughout the event and interview of the repeated respondents that were also recorded as they were unable to fill the questionnaires at that very point of time. In process to check the biasness of the observations, different age groups of tourists were interviewed. During the interview, questions were asked ranging from the experience of the event to the after effect of it; motivation to visit this event again and the whole holistic views about this city after the addition of this event in the to do list of the visitors. The same observation and field study were conducted to know present status of Vishwanath Temple corridor, its future plan, and some observation and interview with local and pilgrims about the future development.

HERITAGE

The term has broader meaning to communicate and it is totally perception based on so many criteria. To summarize in more layman term, it can be simply defined as everything which was entrusted by our ancestors or inherited fr om them may include under this category. It could be structures, landscapes, tradition, objects, etc (Singh and Rana, 2017).

These all were termed combined which was later distributed in two different segments with their own criteria intact which was framed by World Heritage Council (WHC) a special body instituted under UNESCO in 1972 convention with the main aim to protect the world cultural and natural heritage.

CULTURAL HERITAGE CRITERIA

Article 1 of the convention states further the following items come under this criterion:

  • 1. Architectural monuments work, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements, or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings, and combinations of features having outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art, or science.
  • 2. Groups of buildings separate or connected because of then architecture, homogeneity, or landscapes.

3. Sites that are works of man or combined with nature and of man with universal value from the historical, aesthetic, ethnological, and anthropological point of view.

NATURAL HERITAGE CRITERIA

As per Article 2 of the convention goes under this model:

I. Natural highlights comprising of physical and natural arrangements or gathering of such developments, which are of exceptional widespread incentive from the stylish or logical perspective;

II. Geological and physiographical developments and definitely depicted regions which comprise the natural surroundings of compromised types of creatures and plants of remarkable widespread incentive from the perspective of science or protection;

III. Natural destinations or exactly outlined characteristic zones of exceptional widespread value from the perspective of science, preservation, or normal magnificence.

RATIONALES FOR INCLUDING VARANASI AS HERITAGE CITY IN THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST

5.6.3.1 CONSTITUTE A UNIQUE ARTISTIC AND AESTHETIC ACCOMPLISHMENT

The city represents a unique natural shape with the Ganga river flowing northerly for 7 km of its cour se that shapes crescent and city has grown on left bank in circular form around it. The natural ecosystem is preserved by the area on its right side which serves as a flood plain. Thus, the combination of its either sides represents the cultural and natural heritage and that is also unique in whole of India.

5.6.3.2 RECORDING CONSIDERABLE INFLUENCE ATA CERTAIN PERIOD

Varanasi as a history has special role in promoting education, debates, and dialectics both religious and spiritual and manifestation of holy centers of pan-India sites. Sanskrit and Ayurveda are believed to be here since fifth century BCE. All major holy centers of India were believed to be replicated here before 12th century. It can be undoubtedly termed as miniIndia and also perceived as the cultural capital of India.

5.6.3.3 EVIDENCE OF A DISAPPEARED CIVILIZATION

Samath where Buddha gave his first sermon, “Turning the wheel of law” c.a.528 все and later during thud century все when king Ashoka built a monastery township there that was there till 12th century ce and then destroyed. The second was the excavation of archaeological findings from the Rajghat area of Varanasi that was further supported by Robert C. Eidt (1977) on the basis of scientific analysis that they were concluded to be belonged to 800 все to ce 800. It was derived out of from the results that residential settlement prevailed at this place at those time spans was continuous. The small evidence of fanning and domestication of cattle was a sign of pastoral economy and the testimony to oldest occupied modem cities in the world.

5.6.3.4 ILLUSTRATE A SIGNIFICANT HISTORICAL PERIOD

From sixth century ce to 12th century, the city had established itself as the most popular holy center for Hindus. The images of various deities were established during this period, which now reaches over 3000 Hindu shrines and a few Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh shrines. Muslims shrines prevailed later but now they have reached over 1300 that is more than any Islamic site.

5.6.3.5 CONSTITUTE AN OUTSTANDING EXAMPLE OF A TRADITIONAL WAY OF LIFE

This is a city that celebrates life each and every day of it. It is considered the veritable jungle of fairs and festivals with respect to distinction, sacred sites, time, variety, overseers, and side-shows. The Ganga being the center of it has always been associated with the sacred bath in order to have a fruitful death and attain transmigration. Presence of “dying homes” charitable homes, 84 ghats along the Ganga are equally contributing to its characteristics. The silk weaving, sari making, wood and terracotta handicrafts, and toy making comprise the continuity of historic-cultural tradition. The Banarasi lifestyle is the blend of the entire above-mentioned ingredient and holds a great pride among the natives. The lifestyle has manifested itself in musical tradition known Banaras Gharana (style). The soil is the home to many renowned artists and their performance has been the testimony to this fact since ages.

NEW AGE TOURISM AND SUBAH-E-BANARAS ROLE AS AN ADD ON TO CULTURAL HERITAGE

Assighat which is located southern among ghats, the confluence of Ganga and Assi river tributary, is considered to be sacred for holy bath dining full moon. Numerous mythological saying has been associated with this place and the ghat remains among the top celebrated area among the tourists. The river bed has been shifted away from the ghat in due course of time and deposition of flood plain has taken its place making it greener than ever. The steps of 19th century Sangameshwara temple have always been a spot for local tourists to sit and spend their time. The students of Asia’s largest residential Banaras Hindu University can be spotted spreading the messages among the locals and the tourists for different reasons irrespective of their personal benefits which makes it again a spot of gr eat importance socially.

The entire residential area of Assi is acquired by tourists who not only come Banaras to get a glimpse of it but also stay here and leant the different arts expanding from Sanskrit to music and dance to devotion. Subah-e-Banaras is not adding anything extra what Banaras has to offer for the seekers of light and moksha rather it is the platform which delivers the entire taste of ancient and modem Indian culture evolved during different phase of time in Banaras but were later discontinued due to mixing and acquiring of different culture and mindset to established way of life. The dilution of culture and tradition of this place is being concentrated by this vary organizing. The involvement and experience of this event with tourist and localities is what make this a very suitable example for new age tourism. This is the platform that not only entertains you rather it takes your breath away by giving life changing experiences by showcasing the pragmatic aura of life.

WHY SUBAH-E-BANARAS IS TOP OF TO DO LIST?

Ganga Aarti (oil lamp ritual): Ganga is the life line of this eternal city. The river flows from north to south dir ection in this city and water of the Ganga is considered as purest spiritual energy equivalent to elixir. The Aarti on the banks of Ganga with the sun rising in the east remains the first event that marks the beginning of new day which brings life to everyone on the earth (Fig. 5.1).

Subah-e-Banaras activities—Arati

FIGURE 5.1 Subah-e-Banaras activities—Arati.

Source: Picture taken by Author.

Yoga: After thanksgiving to Ganga, the next step which follows is the self-building as it has been rightly said that “a sound mind lives in a sound body”. A daily one-hour yoga session is also conducted to impart authentic knowledge of this very lifesaving mantra to the tourists.

Yagna (vedic fire ritual): Fire ritual is the practice which is continued in Indian societies since ancient times and considered as very close to nature. Since starting of the life, this practice has been there in order to achieve some natural and spiritual gain in daily life. The concept behind this is it works as the bridge between the living and the almighty (Fig. 5.2).

Cultural events: Sustainability and the society participation are very important prospects for any event to make it successful. The local artist of Varanasi is invited on daily basis to perform in front of all the tourist and dignitaries for two important reasons:

  • 1. To showcase the rich and varied heritage of this city and also the relative evolution in the field of performing ait and culture.
  • 2. It also works as the marketing platform for them to meet and understand new business ideas and proposals for the future assignments.
Subah-e-Banaras activities—Yoga, fire ritual, chanting of scared verses. Source

FIGURE 5.2 Subah-e-Banaras activities—Yoga, fire ritual, chanting of scared verses. Source: Picture taken by Author.

To sum it up the entire event is a great support to strengthen the cultural stagnation of Banaras. The tag of repeated and stereotypic experience is highly dangerous, and this is the high tune to come up with the more of these ideas in order stay on the top list of cultural destinations because repetitions are always treated as spoiler to the authentic experiences. However, the exact quantum of the impact caused on the tourist influx is not veiy clear yet as there are plenty of places which shadow the importance of Subah-e-Banaras in general. A study of decade can help to understand the same more precisely and exact.

KASHI VISHWANATH DHAM CORRIDOR

5.7.2.1 THE OVERVIEW

Development is in a way considered a double-edged sword, while the primary aim of the one edge remains the same as of similar to any normal sword except sometimes when the second edge can be fatal to one who holds it. Since the ages Ganges and the Vishwanath (Shiva in form of lord of universe) are synonyms of Kashi and this ideology remains the prime reason of urban agglomeration which was expanded and synchronized in the vicinity of these. Ganga the life giver and Shiva the destroyer or maintainer have their cult among Indians (mostly) Hindus, and this combination of the pilgrimage and spiritual journey remains the priority of the devotees.

Pilgrimage tourism remained on its regular track despite of the various small blockages present in the route to inner sanctum of the Vishveshwara temple. When we consider the entire compound of the Kashi Vishwanath being among the oldest of its kind which is not just an ordinary compound rather it is the conglomeration of private residences, bunker shops, shay animals, and a mosque which was built in late 17th century (Fig. 5.3); all of them have their unique importance which is testified by the increasing number of pilgrims year after year. “Bañaras has been known for its encroached galis” which is considered significant as the major pull factor of the increasing footfalls.

5.7.2.2 THE PLAN

The Vishwanath Mandir corridor project costing ?6 billion was initiated on 11.6 acres land which is equivalent to 47,000 m2. Vishwanath Dham comprises main temple at the western end of which 350 rn is the Ganga barricaded by three well-known ghats named Manikamika, Jalasen, and Lalita (Fig. 5.4). This corridor pathway cleaning made 42 temples appear which were earlier disappeared due to encroachment and the illegal construction surrounding main temple since centuries, nearly 250 private properties were purchased and demolished by the executive committee which were housed either by individual or families (skparishad.org, 2019). The proposed plan of this corridor defines the entire area with magnanimous grandeur and elite feeling for the pilgrims in the time to come. A large open space is fronting the temple or Mandir Chowk with a small passing space for Gyan Vapi Mosque which is adjacent to temple. As per news published in Hindustan (Hindi Dainik, dated June 8, 2019), the construction of the Vishwanath temple will be completed in four phases.

View of Vishwanth temple corridor (under construction). Source

FIGURE 5.3 View of Vishwanth temple corridor (under construction). Source: Picture taken by Author.

The first phase will expand the boundaries around the Vishwanath temple; the temple will be ready around. In the second phase, there will be development works in the gates of the temple between second and third lane to about 10,000 m2. It includes the restoration of mythological and ancient temples. A vast gate will be made. Facilities will be developed for the devotees in the temple complex and the premises. In the third phase, the corridor will be built from Lalita Ghat on the Ganga coast to Manikarnika Ghat. Accordingly, the pumping station of Jalasen Ghat will be underground. At the same time, a huge platform will be formed over the Manikarnika Ghat which will connect the temple directly. In the last phase, work will be completed between Lalita Ghat and Nilkantha Gate. Development of 42 ancient temples hidden inside the buildings will be developed based on their historical richness and grandeur. A board displaying the wonderful architectural and craftsmanship will be arranged there inside the premises of these temples. The new compound shall remain the ground zero for optimum facilities required by pilgrims. These contain guest houses, Yatra Seva Kendra’s, Yagnsalas for yagna and havan, hospice, museums, and library also with special attention to adequate number of public toilets. Escalator facility shall be made available at Nepali (Lalita) Ghat with an additional pathway from Manikarnika Ghat to Temple has been proposed for the elderly and differently abled pilgrims.

Proposed map and design of Kashi Vishwanath corridor

FIGURE 5.4 Proposed map and design of Kashi Vishwanath corridor.

Source: www.thehindu.com/society/varanasi-by-design-vishwanath-dham

The facilities projected will boost the influx of tourist and to maintain that the extensive security arrangements. The quad level security service shall work along the Integrated Command Control Center with a separate building dedicated to them. First level shall witness use of Telemeter which will fire an alarm in case of emergency followed by Hydraulic based Bollard System which has a significant role in security of such public places. Third level will witness Access Control System which is responsible for x-rays and scamring of objects/humans entering the temple premises along with Air Surveillance System at level four to crack down any irregularities, if found within 200 m of ah space of the Vishwanath Dham Corridor. Also, a wider emergency gate shall be constructed which will give access to ambulance directly to the temple premises in case of emergency.

5.7.2.3 FUTURE REVERBERATIONS AND IMPACT ON PILGRIMAGE AND HERITAGE TOURISM

The cultural heritage is considered priceless and irr eplaceable and this remains constant for every nation. Any loss through disappearance and deterioration even slightest of them is destitution of the heritage of the entire mankind. If an estimated rough data is to be believed than present arrangement of the darshan (meeting the deity) is out-turned by 3000 pilgrims daily and the number crosses the count of 100,000 on certain auspicious occasions. With the inauguration of the corridor, the wider-inner area will completely eradicate the lumpy encroachment issues, hence making the darshan fruitful yet comfortable together.

EPILOGUE

The perception of behavior of visitor to this eternal city of Varanasi is changing. Earlier only expectation from the city was some cultural and religious sites with lifestyle of people but now as number of repeated visitors are increasing (Table 5.2), Varanasi was facing shortage of new attr actions to be offered. After introduction of Subah-e-Banaras and corning project of Kashi Vishwanath Temple dham corridor is already started attracting so many varieties of pilgrims, visitors, and tourist in the city. Being parliamentary constituency prime minister of India, it also attracts visitors, investors, and planners to study and offer new age tourism for all.

TABLE 5.2 Varanasi: Totirist Influx (2013-2017) in million

Year

Domestic/International

Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi

Indian

23.08

5.2

2014

Foreign

1.88

0.287

Indian

22.32

5.41

2015

Foreign

1.82

0.302

Indian

22.23

5.6

2016

Foreign

1.85

0.312

Indian

26.12

5.95

2017

Foreign

2.28

0.335

2018

Indian 26.7 6.2

Foreign

2.37

0.416

Source: UP Tourism, 2019.

Of all the encounters and interviews that were conducted ethnographically in a systematic and channelized way pointed out some obvious points and inducted some significant research gaps indeed.

Arrivals on an average are inclining year by year and the stagnation of cultural prospect cannot be proved there of whereas the specific motivation of visiting Banaras only for the participation in Subah-e-Banaras was also not proven as absolute. Interviews on the Day 1; 2 September, 2018 morning 6 am/Varanasi- Assi Ghat “Great feelings. “Want to visit again and again” exclaimed a domestic tourist coming all the way from Kolkata just to witness the grandeur of this early morning festivity. Interview on the day 10; September 12, 2018 morning 7 am/Varanasi-Assi Ghat. “We came to witness the spiritual essence of Varanasi, thanks for the Subah-e-Banaras as it was icing on the cake for us, good luck and great wishes for the entire team of this event” were the remarks of Cindy Morkel who came all the way from United States to visit India and in that Banaras specifically.

Local people and new age visitors are eagerly waiting for completion of the Vishwanath Dham corridor to have completely different experience of spirituality, religion with development.

KEYWORDS

new age tourism

Subah-e-Banaras

Kashi Vishwanath Corridor heritage tourism ghats of Banaras

REFERENCES

Bibhudatta, B. Design Resource Culture, City and Crafts of Varanasi. http://www.dsource. in/resource/culture-city-and-crafts-varanasi/credits.

Conti, G.; Perelli, C. Traditional Mass Tourism Destinations: The Decline of Fordist Tourism Facing the Rise of Vocational Diversification. Governance and Sustainability in New Tourism Trends, 2019. http://media.planum.bedita.net/49/58/Conti_Perelli.pdf.

Eadington, W. R.; Smith, V. L. Introduction: The Emergence of Alternative Forms of Tourism. In Tourism Alternatives', Smith, V. L., Eadington, W. R., Eds.; University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, PA, 1992; pp. 1-12.

Fonseca, F. P.; Ramos, R. A. Heritage Tourism in Peripheral Areas: Development Strategies and Constraints. Tourism Geographies 2012,14 (3), 467-493.

House J. An Alternative Form of Alternative Tourism? Unpublished Thesis, 1994. http:// www.arasite. orgZpspage2.htm (accessed April 12,2019).

Krippendorf, J. The Holiday Makers. Understanding the Impact of Leisure and Travel; Butterworth Heinemann: Oxford, 1987.

Morphy, H. ‘The Ait of Basketry: Aesthetics in a Cross-Cultural Perspective’. In Mowat, Morphy, Dransart, Eds.; 1992; pp. 160-168.

Poon, A. Tourism, Technology and Competitive Strategies; CAB Wallingford: Oxford, 1993.

Rana, P. S.; Singh, R. P. B. Behaviorual Perspective of Pilgrims and Tourists in Banaras.

In The Tourist—A Psychological Perspective; Raj, A., Ed.; Kanishka Prtbl.: New Delhi, 2004; pp. 187-206.

Singh, R. P. B. 1993/2018. The GahgaGhats, Varanasi (Kashi): The Riverfront Landscapes. In Banaras (Varanasi): Cosmic Order, Sacred City, Hindu Traditions; Singh, Rana P. B ., Ed.; Tara Book Agency: Varanasi; pp. 65-102. Rev. pp. 1-77.

Singh, R. P. B.; Rana, P. S. Varanasi: Heritage Zones and Its Designation in UNESCO’s World Heritage Properties. Kashi J. Soc. Sci. 2017, 7 (1-2), June-December, 201-218.

Singh, R. P. B.; Rana, P. S. Faith and Place: Hindu Sacred Landscapes of India. In The Routledge Handbook of Place; Edensor, T., Kothari, U., Kalandides, A., Eds.; Routledge: London, 2019a; ca. pp. 141-154.

Singh, R. P. B.; Rana, Pravin S. Visioning Cultural Heritage and Planning: Banaras, India. In Routledge Companion of Global Heritage Conservation; Vinayak, B., Sandmeier, T., Eds.; Routledge: Abingdon, Oxen, UK, 2019b; pp. 175-200.

Singh, R. P. B .; Rana, P. S.; Kumar, S. Intangible Dimensions of Urban Heritage: Learning from Holy Cities of India. In The Routledge Handbook on Historic Urban Landscapes of the Asia-Pacific; Silva, K. D., Ed.; London; pp. 65-84.

Srivatsan, A. (2019). Varanasi by design: Vishwanath Dham and the Politics of Change-The Hindu, accsseed on 28.7.2020 tps://www.thehindu.com/ society/varanasi-by-design-vishwanath-dham- and-the-politics-of-change/ article26607193 .ece.

Twain, M. Following the Equator, Chapter 50-On the Road to Benares, 1897. http://www. online-literature.com/hvain/following-the-equatoi70/.

UP Tourism Statistics Report. 2014. http://uptourism.gov.in/site/writereaddata/Monument-small-chart-2014-to-2018 .pdf.

van Hove, N. Globalisation of Tourism Demand: The Underlying Factors and the Impact on Marketing Strategy. In Keller, P, Ed.; Globalisation in Tourism, Tourist Review 1996, 4,6-7.

Weiler, B.; Hall, С. M. Special Interest Tourism; Belhaven Press: London, 1992.

Hindustan. (Hindi Newspaper); Vishwanath Mandir Corridor: Varanasi, June 8,2019.

 
Source
< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >