Somnath: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that destructive forces and people who follow the ideology of creating empires through terror can dominate for some time, but their existence is not permanent as they cannot suppress humanity forever.
He also said it was Indian people's spiritual bent of mind that kept the country united for centuries, and called for the need to develop the "spiritual tourism" sector for the progress of different regions and creation of new job opportunities for the local residents.
Modi was speaking while virtually inaugurating a few projects of the famous Somnath temple situated in Gir-Somnath district of Gujarat.
"This temple was demolished numerous times over several centuries in the past. Idols of deities were also desecrated. Attempts were made to erase its existence. But it came up again in its full glory every time it was demolished," he said.
This temple gave a message to the entire world that "truth cannot be defeated by falsehood, and faith cannot be crushed under the feet of terror", he added.
"Somnath temple is a symbol of trust and assurance for the entire world. Forces that strive for destruction and those who follow the ideology of creating empires out of terror can dominate for some time, but their existence is never permanent as they cannot suppress humanity forever," the PM said.
This was true when some tyrants were demolishing the Somnath temple, and it is true even today when the world has apprehensions because of some people following such ideology, he said.
The prime minister's remarks come in the wake of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
As the chairman of the Shree Somnath Trust, the PM inaugurated and laid the foundation stone for four projects, worth Rs 83 crore, of the Somnath temple. It included the ground-breaking ceremony for the Parvati Temple that is coming up near the main temple for Rs 30 crore.
The three projects that he inaugurated were a 1.4-km long 'Samudra Darshan' walkway or promenade built at a cost of Rs 49 crore on the seashore behind the temple, a newly-built museum housing ancient artefacts constructed near the temple at Rs 75 lakh, and the renovated 'Ahilyabai Holkar Temple' or the old Somnath temple, renovated at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and other dignitaries attended the programme at a temple auditorium.
On the occasion, Modi also said that India, which was at 65th position in 2013 in the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, jumped to 34th position in 2019.
He remembered the contribution of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in building the present Somnath temple. He also paid tributes to India's first President Dr Rajendra Prasad and freedom fighter from Gujarat K M Munshi, who played a key role in the construction of the temple.
The PM said that out of the total 40 pilgrimage places covered under the Centre's PRASAD (Pilgrimage Rejuvenation And Spiritual Augmentation Drive) scheme, the work on 15 projects was already over.
"We are now planning to connect Somnath with other tourist spots and cities of the state, so that people who visit one place are encouraged to visit other places too," he said, adding that the Centre has identified 19 iconic tourist destinations across the country for further development.
"Thanks to such initiatives and other policy decisions for the tourism sector, India, which was on 65 position in the world Travel and Tourism Competitive Index in 2013, jumped to 34th position in 2019," he said....