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Vivekananda on tourist map

Nov. 18: The Vajpayee government has decided to turn all the places that Swami Vivekananda visited in his Bharat Darshan into tourist centres.

Before his daylong visit to Calcutta tomorrow, Union tourism and culture minister Jagmohan said the project will begin with the renovation and restoration of Swamiji’s ancestral house in Calcutta. The Planning Commission has made Rs 3 crore available and “we have provided Rs 2.40 crore already. A library is being built in the house which would be thrown open to common people and would attract scholars and tourists from abroad”, he said.

For the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Calcutta, another Rs 2 crore has been allotted to build space for more people to come and stay, especially for conducting research.

All the money that has been sanctioned for tourism and culture in Bengal will be channelled through the state government.

Apart from the Vivekananda project, the ministry has sanctioned funds to develop tourism facilities at Bishnupur in Bankura, Darjeeling and Santiniketan, where Visva-Bharati University will be in charge.

Jagmohan will visit the Dakshineshwar temple, for which he has sanctioned Rs 1 crore, essentially to stop erosion of the river bank there, a project that the Calcutta Port Trust will implement. Shops around the temple will be removed to an area — a furlong away — to open up the congested approach.

The Sarada Mission, for whose restoration the Calcutta Municipal Development Authority has been granted Rs 80 lakh, is on his itinerary, too. At Bishnupur, Rs 3.50 crore will be spent to construct and improve roads, build a motel and fair grounds and to reinforce the bund on the river. Santiniketan is getting Rs 53 lakh for environmental improvement and developing resorts.

Jagmohan said turning all the places Swamiji visited into tourist attractions was one way of uniting the diverse cultures of a vast country. “Though the project begins with Bengal, we are also planning to develop Kanyakumari. A sum of Rs 4 crore has been sanctioned, out of which Rs 2 crore will be spent on a light and sound show there and the rest on a museum and a place where tourists can stay.”

Even the Delhi house on Roshanara Road, where Vivekananda used to stay, has been notified as a historical monument and is being restored at the initiative of the Ramakrishna Mission in the capital.

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