Kashi Vishwanath temple will be equipped with world-class facilities by year-end
On the initiative of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, physically challenged devotees of Lord Shiva will now have a hassle-free ‘drashan’ at the famous Kashi Vishwanath temple in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had received several suggestions/complaints from divyangs, a new name was given to physically challenged persons by the PM, about they find it difficult to climb up the steep temple staircase. They also complained about non-availability of wheelchairs, helpers or other facilities for them to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva at the famous temple. When the issue was brought to the knowledge of the PM in June first week, he immediately directed officials in his Lok Sabha constituency to make all arrangements for divyangs, including construction of ramps, availability of battery-operated wheelchairs with helpers and a separate route for them to visit the temple without any trouble.
“Our Prime Minister is very sensitive to the cause of special people. The thought never came to our mind that they too have a right to Lord Shiva’s ‘darshan’ like any ordinary person. We thank the Prime Minister for his initiative,” said temple Priest Sri Kant Sharma.
With a go-ahead from the Prime Minister, the Kashi Vishwanath Management Committee took up the issue on priority and began construction of ramps. “The work for the construction of ramps is near completion and we may offer the facility to divyangs by this month-end,” said Vishal Singh, the CEO of the temple.
Singh claimed that Kashi Vishwanath temple will soon become the second in the country after Mahabaleshwar Temple in Ujjain to extend all facilities to ‘special’ devotees wishing to visit the temple for darshan.
The temple management committee has also created a separate entry point for divyang devotees on the sides of the adjoining Gyanvapi mosque to ensure that these special devotees are not caught in the crowd and any stampede-like situation. “Ramps are being constructed on staircases and raised platforms for their smooth entry to the temple without facing crowd on the battery-operated wheelchairs,” said the CEO.
About half a dozen battery-operated wheelchairs have already been handed over to the temple management committee. About a dozen ‘sewadaars’ (volunteers) have been selected for the running the wheelchair service free of cost for divyang devotees.
“Mobile numbers of these sewadaars will be displayed at all entry points of the temple for any divyang devotee to avail the services free of cost,” said temple Priest Sri Kant Sharma.
The temple will also make available battery-operated wheelchair service to elderly and sick persons who cannot walk in the narrow lanes and climb the staircase to reach the temple for ‘darshan’ of Lord Shiva.
For blind devotees, the temple will offer a special headphone linked with google navigation system which will automatically keep guiding them about the temple route on their way through the voice calls.
A hi-tech stick will also be provided to such devotees. It will vibrate to alert the blind person about any obstacles coming on their way to temple. Separate literature and display boards at the temple in Braille language will be made available to these special devotees to know about all information and history of the world-famous temple.
“I am excited at the news of a separate route and wheelchair facility at the Kashi Vishwanath temple. I would visit Varanasi during the month of ‘shravan’ to fulfill my long cherished dream to offer ‘jalabhishek’,” reacted Amit Saxena, who is paralyzed after an accident seven years ago.
Earlier, on the request of the temple management committee, the Varanasi Police had raised a special force of 24 men and women police personnel donning saffron ‘dhoti-kurta’ or sarees to man security inside the temple and welcome the devotees at the temple in the traditional way. Members of this new force were given special training in the crowd and hospitality management by experts for ‘friendly policing’ at the Kashi Vishwanath temple.
“The results are encouraging. Earlier, the presence of impolite and rude men in khaki shouting at them for keeping in queue always used to irk devotees. It’s a pleasant surprise for them now to see same policemen attired in dhoti-kurta, welcoming them inside the temple and guiding them for darshan,” claimed the Chief Priest Ashok Dwivedi.
The temple management committee is also introducing a token system for crowd management during the holy month of ‘shravan’ when about 3 to 4 million devotees throng the narrow lanes of the temple for ‘jalabhishek’ on Lord Shiva.
It will be made available online as well as several counters are being opened at the Airport, Railway stations and other important places for the convenience of devotees to book their darshan in advance. They would get an automated alert SMS on the mobile number provided requesting them to reach temple at the time allotted to them.
Despite opposition, work on creating the Kashi Vishwanath Temple Corridor is in full swing to widen the lanes and by-lanes leading to the main temple. The committee, heading the project, has already identified houses and shops falling on its routes for demolition and their rehabilitation.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s special interest and attention, Kashi Vishwanath temple will be equipped with world-class facilities by year-end to become one of the best temples in the country.
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