Millennium Post

Will spend Rs 25 cr to turn Mahesh into religious tourism hotspot: CM

Kolkata: The state government will give Rs 25 crore to convert Mahesh in Hooghly district into a centre of religious tourism, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday, while attending the Rathyatra festival there.

Banerjee said the state government has already allotted Rs 10 crore for the renovation of the natmandir, guest house and its adjoining areas. Another Rs 15 crore will be given for the development of the area. The state government will repair 'Mashir bari' and its adjoining areas as well.

"Mahesh will be converted into a centre of religious tourism. More people will visit the area because of its historical significance," she said. The state government has already developed the areas surrounding Bandel Church, Imambara and Tarakeshwar Temple, all situated in Hooghly district.

It may be recalled that the state government has already spent more than Rs 100 crore to develop Gangasagar and has made it into a religious tourism hotspot. Meanwhile, ISKCON is making Mayapur into a world religious centre. The state government has given a go-ahead for the same and construction of the new temple is going on in full swing.

The Rathyatra festival at Mahesh is being celebrated since 1396, making it the oldest Rathyatra festival in the world.

In the 14th century, Drubananda Bramhachari went to Puri where he had the desire to offer bhog to Lord Jagannath with his own hands. The temple authorities opposed it and Drubananda sat on a fast unto death. It is said that on the third day of the fast, he heard the voice of Lord Jagannath, who instructed him to go to Mahesh and set up a temple.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited the Mahesh temple and went into deep meditation. Drubananda requested him to stay at the temple because of his failing health. Mahaprabhu recommended Kamalakar Pippalai to become the priest.

Pillai started the Rathyatra festival in Mahesh. The Rath that is being pulled today is 50 feet height and has 12 wheels. It was built by the Martin Burn Company.

The Chief Minister also pulled the rope (rashi) of the Rath and inaugurated the Rathyatra festival of ISKCON in Kolkata. She offered Aarati to the trio as well and visited the ISKCON temple on Albert Road.

The procession moved through important thoroughfares in Kolkata. A temporary 'Mashir bari' has been set up in Maidan, where the trio will stay for seven days.

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