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Ayodhya: A spiritual hub transforming into an economic powerhouse


Ayodhya: Not merely a testament to faith and spirituality, the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya is transforming this vibrant city on the banks of the Saryu river, into a major economic centre.


“The wave of development and enthusiasm surrounding new projects in Ayodhya is poised to propel the overall growth of Uttar Pradesh,” said Mukesh Meshram, Principal Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism.


As per the Tourism Department, the city has witnessed a massive surge in tourists in the last few years -- from a modest 3.25 lakh in 2021 to an astounding 2.39 crore in 2022. This further increased to 31.5 crore in 2023, as claimed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

 

“Following the consecration of Shri Ram Lalla on January 22, Ayodhya is set to emerge as a highly developed and prominent tourist destination on the global tourism map. The double-engine government is actively working on the development of religious tourist sites across the state,” the CM said and added, “Ayodhya's increasing prominence is not just limited to its spiritual and emotional significance; it is emerging as a major tourist destination. The city has recently been granted international airport status to facilitate global connectivity.”


The economic impact is anticipated to be substantial, with experts projecting an additional business boom of Rs 50,000 crore, reflecting the nationwide enthusiasm for the upcoming Pran Pratistha ceremony.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on December 30, dedicated numerous development projects to Ayodhya, laying the foundation for works worth over Rs 15,000 crore and envisioning Ayodhya as a regional growth hub.


The ambitious redevelopment of Ayodhya, outlined in Master Plan 2031, is slated to be completed over 10 years with an investment exceeding Rs 85,000 crore. The city's potential to attract pilgrims and tourists is emphasised by the expected 1:10 ratio of residents to tourists.


“Ayodhya holds immense potential as a spiritual destination for tourism, especially with the upcoming opening of the Ram temple. We believe the tourism industry could see a 10-fold increase by 2024, making Ayodhya a global spiritual centre,” asserted Kamlesh Singh, a tour operator in Lucknow.


Tour operators like Manoj Singh are witnessing a rapid surge in tourists to Ayodhya and Varanasi, with bookings for 2024 experiencing a huge growth of over 100 percent. Singh highlighted the positive impact on the travel industry and tourism in Uttar Pradesh, positioning it as a much-needed boost after a decline in tourist numbers post-2019


Manoj Singh said that his company is facilitating comprehensive travel arrangements for pilgrims from Kerala and Tamil Nadu to Ayodhya. The five-day-four-night trip costs a minimum of Rs 15,000 per person, including accommodation, food, and local transportation. Singh pointed out that while there is a fixed level of minimum expenditure, there is no upper limit for those willing to spend more.

From January 23 to September 23, a total of 2,03,64,347 tourists visited Ayodhya. Of these, 2,03,62,713 were domestic tourists, and the remaining 1,634 were international tourists.


The expected business generated by this influx of tourists is estimated to exceed Rs 150 crore, with over 1,000 small and large travel agents operating in cities like Lucknow, Varanasi, and Prayagraj.


Chairperson of the Shri Ram Mandir Construction Committee, Nripendra Mishra, foresees a surge in economic activities around Ayodhya after the inauguration of the Ram temple, potentially leading to city expansion akin to the National Capital Region (NCR).


The Ram Mandir Committee is committed to accommodating the faith of devotees by ensuring that 70,000 worshippers can have daily darshan. Ayodhya, similar to renowned temples like Padmanabha Swami, Tirupati Balaji, Vaishnodevi, Siddhivinayak, and Kashi Vishwanath, is implementing convenient arrangements for devotees.

 

Since the groundbreaking Bhoomi Pujan on August 5, 2020, Ayodhya has undergone a remarkable transformation. The city is witnessing projects worth thousands of crores, including the construction of Rampath, Bhakti Path, and Darshan Path, aimed at facilitating the easy darshan of Ramlalla.

Several temples are undergoing renovation to encourage tourists to extend their stay and explore the rich religious heritage of Ayodhya. Plans for the 84 Kosi Parikrama Marg and approximately 60 associated religious places are also in the proposal stage.


Prof. Devashish Das Gupta from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow, advocates implementing a model akin to South Indian temples in Ayodhya. “This model prioritises devotee convenience, safety, health, and local cottage industries to enhance the overall experience and promote local goods,” he said.


Dinesh Goyal, the National Senior Vice President of the Indian Industries Association, anticipates a significant economic boost, estimating an additional business turnover of Rs 50,000 crore in the country due to the preparations for Pran Pratistha. He sees tremendous potential in Ayodhya as a major contributor to the national economy.


“The growing interest in Ayodhya is not limited to its spiritual significance but is also manifesting in the widespread popularity of products related to Ramlalla. These products include Shri Ram flags, Angavastras, garlands, lockets, key rings, pictures of Ram Darbar, models of the Ram Temple, decorative pendants, bangles, and more,” Goyal said, adding: “Business entities across the country are capitalising on these opportunities, seeking to connect Ayodhya's identity with consumers nationwide.”



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