Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Kedarnath, in Rudraprayag district, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (PTI Photo)
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday offered prayers at the famous Kedarnath and Badrinath temples in Uttarakhand. He also laid the foundation stone of road and ropeway projects worth more than Rs.3,400 crores in the state. During his two-day tour of the state, Mr Modi will inspect various ongoing development projects and lay the foundation stones for some new ones.
The Prime Minister will also visit Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, Diwali eve, to have "darshan" and perform a puja at the Ram temple.
In Uttarakhand, Mr Modi accused the previous governments of neglecting the centres of faith across the country and claimed that these places are now being restored to their lost glory.
Citing examples of Kashi Vishwanath temple, Ujjain and Ayodhya, where major reconstruction works have been carried out in recent years, Mr Modi attributed the "years of neglect" to "slave mentality".
"Slave mentality grips the minds of some people so strongly that they react even to development as if it is a crime. Such people never get tired of praising the centres of faith in other countries but they look down upon their own country's centres of faith," Mr Modi said while addressing a gathering in Uttarakhand's Mana village on the India-China border after laying the foundation stones of two ropeway projects in Kedarnath and in Hemkund Sahib.
The Prime Minister noted that pride in our own legacy and every possible effort for its development are the foundations of a 21st century India.
"Neglect of the centres of faith for decades by the previous governments reflects a disregard for crores of people who believe in them and the country's culture, which is thousands of years old. Our centres of faith are not just structures; they are symbols of our cultural legacy, which is thousands of years old. They are our life breath," Mr Modi said.
He mentioned that the reconstruction work carried out in Kedarnath in recent years has drawn an unprecedented number of pilgrims to the Himalayan temple.
"Earlier, a maximum of four-to-five-lakh people visited Kedarnath in one season but I am told that this year 45-lakh people have visited the temple, breaking all past records. Development projects at the Himalayan centres of faith not only make the journey to the temples easier for pilgrims but also generate job opportunities for locals and boost the local economy," he added.
He appealed to people going on pilgrimages or to the border areas for tourism to spend at least five per cent of their budget on buying local products, saying the small step could help boost the local economy in a big way.
The Prime Minister said a ropeway to the Hemkund Sahib gurdwara will be celebrated by followers of the Sikh faith not only in the country but also in countries like the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada.
He appealed to locals to support the labourers engaged in the construction of ropeway projects, as they are in this way serving the almighty.
Mr Modi said that Mana is called the last Indian village because of its location but for him every border village in the country is the first village from where the doors of prosperity will open.
Earlier in the day, Mr Modi offered prayers at the famous Kedarnath and Badrinath temples in Uttarakhand. The Prime Minister performed the puja at the temples wearing the traditional white attire of the hill people with a swastika embroidered on it.
At Kedarnath, he also laid the foundation stone for the 9.7-km Gaurikund-Kedarnath ropeway project. Using the ropeway, devotees will be able to reach the temple from Gaurikund in 30 minutes.
The priests who performed the puja prayed for strength for the Prime Minister to take the country forward. He also visited the Samadhi Sthal of Adi Guru Shankaracharya at Kedarnath and spent some time there.
This is Mr Modi's sixth visit to Kedarnath and his second to Badrinath as Prime Minister.
During his Ayodhya visit Mr Modi will perform puja at the Ram temple. He will also inspect the construction site of the grand Ram temple and later, perform a symbolic coronation of Lord Ram.
In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office said that at around 6.30 pm, the Prime Minister will witness the aarti on the banks of the Saryu river, which will be followed by the launch of the grand "Deepotsav" celebrations by him.
The sixth edition of Deepotsav is being held this year and it is for the first time that Mr Modi will be participating in the celebrations. More than 15-lakh "diyas" (earthen lamps) will be lit on the occasion. Five animated tableaux and 11 Ramlila tableaux showcasing various dance forms from different states will also be performed during the Deepotsav.
Mr Modi will also witness a 3-D holographic projection mapping show at the Ram Ki Paidi on the banks of the Saryu, along with a grand musical laser show.