| The Kali temple at Masimpur. A Telegraph picture |
May 21: Two ancient temples of historical significance in Cachar are set for a major facelift with Dispur going all out to promote religious tourism.
Replete with temples from the ancient and contemporary eras, the district boasts of at least two religious sites capable of satiating the hearts and souls of those with a penchant for pilgrimages.
A state government official said the Union tourism ministry had unveiled a new plan to spruce up the famous Kali temple at Masimpur, 10km west of Silchar. This burgeoning district headquarters draws lakhs of devotees from almost every state in the country.
A majority of them visit the shrine on the occasion of Pous Sankranti every winter.
The scheme envisages an expenditure of Rs 18 crore for constructing a winding 1km-long road to provide the tourists and pilgrims a hassle-free ride to the Kali temple, perched on a hillock.
The official said Delhi had also sanctioned Rs 24 lakh for the fortification of the walls beside the temple, remodelling of the abode of Goddess Kali in the sanctum sanctorum as well as the beautification of a cluster of trees (the Panchavati) besides setting up cottages.
Those who prefer to be amid the serenity of nature in a pious ambience, the Kali temple, spread across 20 bighas of land, is an ideal destination.
Situated in the proximity of two big cantonments — one housing the BSF frontier headquarters and the other housing the headquarters of the Mountain Division of the army — the temple has now become a regular weekend destination for many in Silchar town.
Established on January 13, 1909 by Dayananda Thakur, the shrine is an institution by itself. A secular atmosphere permeates this temple with its patrons. The authorities insist on keeping it an open house for visitors, including those of other religions, who make a beeline everyday.
Such congregations swell every year in mid-January when the annual Pous mela is held amid fanfare.
History reveals that the temple acquired fame when the British army, under the then Cachar deputy commissioner, Capt. Broughton, carried out a weeklong raid on the temple premises on July 7, 1922 to flush out freedom fighters.
The official said the Centre had also sanctioned Rs 54.7 lakh for sprucing up the remote Bhuban temple under Sonai block in the district, another important pilgrim centre in the Northeast.
The plan envisages the construction of concrete steps on the serpentine slope of the hill to enable the pilgrims a relatively easy access to the temple of Lord Bhubaneshwar or Shiva, whose idol was installed there in the seventh century. Despite its remoteness and difficult terrain, the temple located atop Bhuban Hills near Motinagar township continues to attract over 10 lakh pilgrims every year.
“If efforts are made to further ease the hassles of the pilgrims undertaking trips to the twin temples, it will lead to a greater inflow of devotees and at the same time improve the district’s moribund economy,” the official added.